Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics" Military shibboleth

The above quotation I learned while in uniform; the latest writing by Robert D. Kaplan offers another version, one I rather prefer..."Amateurs discussed tactics, and rank amateurs discussed grand strategy, while professionals discussed logistics" (Imperial Grunts, pg 228)

My suggestion is measured media leadership is obsessed with tactics and strategy and too often fails to grasp or even appreciate the practical, real-world logistics now in play.

Andrew Odlyzko, Director, Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota, and 26 year veteran of Bell labs, serves up some interesting speculation, to wit

  • Content is not king
  • Streaming real-time multimedia is not the future
  • Intelligence, costs and revenues will continue to migrate to the edges
  • Rates of change: Technology - Fast, Consumer habits - Slow, Industry dogmas - Slowest
  • Faster-than-real-time video file transfers: cater to human impatience, enable transfer to portable devices, enable far simpler networks and already dominate
  • Flexibility of the Internet is enabling innovation that bypasses misleading industry dogmas
  • Build it and they may come, but always in their own sweet time
  • Painful restructuring in store (telecom)
  • Industry hobbled by misleading dogmas (telecom)
  • File transfer for local storage and transfer to other devices the most natural evolution
  • Long historical tradition of overemphasis on content
  • Connectivity has traditionally been valued much more than content
  • Social connectivity very important but neglected
  • Content...is big and important, it is just not as big or as important as connectivity

Please permit me to suggest these telecom issues are also relevant and merit attention in any serious discussions about measured media. Agree or not with Andrew, his pov is well worth your bandwidth and consideration. You may find his home page here

Lots of email regarding the earlier post on hiring. Chasing the same subject matter, here is an excellent point made by Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Channel via USNews.com...

What's the primary thing you look for when you're hiring?

I can't stand negative people. Negative people will bring you down. Life's tough and then you die, and the first 100 years in the ground is just the beginning. I mean, it's just not a good time to get depressed–it's gonna, it could get worse later. And if you can't manage to be positive in a job interview, chances are not great that it's going to get better anytime soon. If you run into people who are negative, and always telling you that the cat got ran over, and you couldn't get the car started and you've got a cold, the suits are idiots and life isn't fair, you know, you need to get away from those people because they will suck you under and hold you down and drown you. Read the entire piece Q&A with Roger Ailes here

My recent counsel to a young manager asking me what to look for when hiring...

21 hiring tips to help you to hire the very best talent

  • hire on attitude (see Ailes above)
  • hire smart people (as Bruce Johnson said "you will never teach someone to be smart")
  • hire "over-qualified" people whenever possible
  • hire "tie-breakers", the people with drive, initiative, tenacity and imagination
  • hire folks preoccupied with today and tomorrow, avoid those who want "yesterday" back
  • hire those that understand they are responsible for producing results without credit, without excuses or reasons
  • hire the hard-working, those with a history of making things happen, those known to get things done (work ethic can not be taught)
  • hire folks that answer "I don't know" when that is the most appropriate response in the interview, seek the intellectually honest, those able to make unvarnished candor effective
  • hire those that former employers say "gave us their best efforts"
  • hire people who are decisive
  • hire people with a sense of humor
  • hire people who say they love what they do and claim to have fun at what they do
  • hire the curious, those that speak in the language of possibility, those with a dream
  • hire those willing to admit their last big failure and share what they learned from the experience, always hire resilience
  • hire those that respect flexibility ("Flexibility is the highest attribute of human intelligence" so said Bob Henabery or as Aristotle wrote, the ability "to entertain a thought without accepting it")
  • hire those that grasp simplicity as the solution to complex problems
  • hire those that do their homework, those that consistently take measured risks
  • hire those who understand execution without urgency is, most often, action plagued by process
  • never hire any person with a history of being "unlucky" (wise advice also from Bruce Johnson)
  • pay attention to their questions and to their listening skills
  • hire those that use plural pronouns in greater number than personal pronouns, seek those that speak using verbs

Finally, in the initial interview make every effort to let the candidate do 85% of the talking. Allow the candidate to finish a response, then wait, let the moment fill with silence and allow them to fill that void. Avoid the temptation to sell the opportunity and/or the company. Those activities are best left to the second or third interview. Immediately after the first interview write down your impressions, go with your gut - how does the candidate make you "feel?"

Andrea Mitchell's book is a fun, smart read especially if you work, have worked, or dream of working as a reporter. Bravo Andrea!