Random snippets of articles, books, magazines, and websites that were striking at the time I read them.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy

Here is an unbelievably entertaining and enlightening read for anyone who:
- Is interested in Jakob Nielsen's work; or
- Is interested in web design; or
- Both!

Kudos to the folks at Design by Fire for this piece of work.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Expectation Management

From the Art of Worldly Wisdom -- a collection of aphorisms from the works of Baltasar Gracian, as translated by Martin Fischer.

#19. Do not enter where too much is anticipated. It is the misfortune of the over celebrated, that they cannot measure up to the excessive expectations of them afterwards: never can the actual attain the imagined: for to think perfection is easy, but to incarnate it, most difficult...

Too often, we avoid being the "bad guy" by not saying no, or by not correcting people's lofty expectations. We don't give ourselves the opportunity to sweeten our relationships by setting the bar low enough that we can do more than what's expected.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The Book Exercise

Got this from Tim Oren's Due Diligence Blog:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"For the point where the successful commander concentrates his forces must be a point that is vital or at least extremely important to the enemy."

From Bevin Alexander's "How Great Generals Win: A military historian appraises the world's greatest commanders, from Hannibal to MacArthur".

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ask the HeadHunter

At a time when many people are anxious about job prospects, career paths, and employment packages, it's always refreshing to come across a site that gives targeted and meaningful advice to both applicants and employers.

I first encountered Ask the Headhunter years ago because I was new as a hiring manager and was probably more nervous about conducting interviews than any of my interviewees. I was always combing the bookstores and the internet for advice on how to conduct job interviews. The articles by Nick Corcodilos helped me put the whole job interview process into perspective: forget the trick questions -- just focus on finding out if the interviewee is someone you want in your firm.

Over the years, I've pointed many of my younger friends to Nick's newsletter and I continue to revisit it myself on a regular basis. Much of the career advice directed at employees (e.g., How to perform in a performance review) can be flipped around and used by bosses as concrete advice on how they can be better managers. Anyone who seeks self-improvement will manage to find something new to think about from this site.

True Professionalism

Several years ago, I came across David Maister's book, "True Professionalism". What a great book! I found myself underlining so many passages because I agreed with so much of what's in it.

"Principles (or values) are the most effective management tools a firm can use. Successful firms are differentiated not by their different goals, clever strategies, or special managerial tactics -- these are all remarkably similar worldwide. Successful firms are clearly differentiated by a strict adherence to values, i.e., to professionalism." - page 2

Too often, I pick up the latest management book from the latest management guru and increasingly find myself getting less wheat for the amount of chaff that I have to wade through. The books may offer new concepts and a new framework, but in the end, a firm's ability to execute on its strategy is still dependent on the professionalism of the people in the firm.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Dell and Rollins

From a Fortune Magazine (May 10 issue) Interview of Michael Dell and Kevin Rollins (Dell's new CEO):

"People don't realize that the way Michael and I have been running the company was irrespective of titles. We just worried about what needs to be done and who's available. We don't spend a lot of time wondering who's in charge of what."

I particularly like the above quote, because it very closely describes the way that we work in my company. However, I'd always thought this type of freewheeling / as needed coordination would be possible only for small firms. It's refreshing to see that it's just as effective a management style in large firms.