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Friday, July 24, 2009

A made up story about Shaquille O'Neal

Coach: Hey Shaq, thanks for coming into my office for your performance review.

Shaq: No problem.

Coach: Well, I wanted to tell you that you're not quite up to our standards, and we're going to put you on a performance improvement plan.

Shaq: Really? What do I need to improve?

Coach: Well, the main thing is we really need to see more basketball mastery out of you. You tend to miss a lot of shots, and you pass the ball on to others a lot instead of taking it up the court yourself. That's not what we're looking for in a point guard.

Shaq: I'm not sure what I can do, I've been trying really hard and it seems like nothing I do really works. I've been working on my dribbling skills, and I pass the ball to other people because they can do a better job of it than I can.

Coach: But to be on this team, you need to demonstrate basketball mastery. And unfortunately I haven't seen that out of you yet. So I'm going to schedule weekly one on ones with you and have you work with our ball-handling coach on Tuesdays, and our jump shot coach on Fridays. Then in 6 months, we'll schedule a time to meet up and I'm confident you'll improve. But if we don't see any improvement, we might have to release you.

Shaq: Coach, I've been thinking, maybe point guard isn't the right position for me to play.

Coach: Really, why do you say that?

Shaq: First of all, I'm 7 feet tall and I weigh 325 pounds. I think if you let me play center, I'd be able to dunk over anyone who'd be guarding me.

Coach: I definitely see that you're tall, and you are pretty muscular. But in order to be successful on this team, you need to demonstrate basketball mastery in the role you are in right now. After you do that, you can consider a change to center. So I want you to concentrate on your ball handling skills and your jump shots, and I want to see you bring the ball up the court instead of passing it on to the shorter and quicker players.

Shaq: Coach, I will do my best, but I really think if you gave me a chance to play center, I could demonstrate my basketball mastery skills by rebounding and scoring near the rim.

Coach: Basketball mastery skills are fundamental and they are the same in any role. So you need to demonstrate them in your current role as a point guard. After you've proven yourself, then someone in the center department might be willing to take you on.

Shaq: Um, OK...

Follow up

So Shaq goes out and tries to demonstrate his basketball mastery skills by taking the ball up the court and working on his jump shot. But he struggles, turning the ball over a lot and missing a lot of shots. He ends up being put on the bench, where he sits there today as a 3rd string point guard, never getting a chance to play center, and the world will never know how good of a center he could have been...


Monday, July 20, 2009

Countdown to the sabbatical!

Last week I turned in my leave of absence form to HR... And it's suddenly it's feeling a lot more real that this is actually going to happen! I've spent the last few days working on finishing up some things, transitioning my work to my replacement, and starting to do some pre-work in finding my new role for when I return. I sent out an announcement to my project team today, and the best response I got was "You lucky SOB." August 5th will be my last day in the office for three months... Only 12 business days left!

I read an update about the guy who left his corporate job to join a baseball league in Germany on the Escape From Cubicle Nation blog. One thing that hit home with me was how his parents didn't exactly agree with his decision, just like mine, and it encourages me his parents are starting to come around (my dad still avoids the subject when I bring it up). He's enjoying his time and doesn't regret doing what he did. Here's to me having the same experience with what I'm calling my SEEF3M!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

The stem cell fallacy

No, this blog didn’t turn into a political activist blog for or against stem cell research. Yes, this is going to be an analogy. This came to me recently as I was discussing my post-sabbatical future with my boss. He’s done a lot to help me out, but it’s hard for me to get the recognition I deserve because I’m in a very non-traditional engineering role (i.e. one that’s entrepreneurial with projects that are outside the box and usually much smaller than typical). So to stay in my function I’d probably need to do more traditional roles so I could get the recognition (i.e. promotions and raises).

I’m at the point now where I’ve been around long enough that I have a little more say in my career, and I know enough about career paths to be able to know what I want. In the past, I did what I was told and went and did a traditional role. I don’t feel like the company got the most out of me.

What bothers me is corporations think we’re stem cells. At the risk of oversimplifying, stems cells are undifferentiated cells and can grow into whatever type of cell it’s placed near. If a stem cell is placed near a liver cell it grows into a liver cell. If it’s placed near a heart cell it grows into a heart cell.

Corporations think we’re all like that. You put me in a traditional engineering role, and I will turn into a traditional engineering person. You put me in an operations role, and I will turn into an operations person.

Well, I’m just not like that. The issue is everywhere I go, they assume that. If I want to go into marketing, they want me to turn into a marketing person. If I want to go into R&D, they want me to turn into an R&D person.

Corporations think of themselves as one person and the employees as cells within that body. We’re more like an ecosystem, individual organisms that interact with each other and evolve as conditions dictate. Why can't they recognize that?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Notes from the blogosphere

There were three mention worthy posts from A Smart Bear and Adam McFarland's blogs this past week:

From "Adam McFarland":

Funding your first business - This was a neat take on what path to take to your first business. The path to the corporate world is really well worn (go to school, get a job, work for 30 years, retire). Adam proposes a neat path to the entrepreneurship world, starting with a "non-career job," providing a service, then finally getting to the point of starting a business. It's really close to a Corporatepreneur path. Maybe the subject of another post!

From idea to cashflow - Adam responds to a request I had to describe how he went from getting an idea to getting cashflow. In the corporate world, we're given ideas and told to execute them using their systems. How do we go from idea to cashflow on our own? Good post, I'm hoping that he talks a little bit more on the nuts and bolts to starting a business, i.e. how the heck do you get to be a distributor? Do you just call someone up?

From "A Smart Bear":

Sacrifice your health for a startup - Here's Jason being all contrarian again. :) In this post, he feels like you need to work really hard to the point of sacrificing your health and friends/family in order for a startup to be successful. I don't have that kind of drive, so am I doomed to start? Can I be an 80 for 20 type person and still be successful?


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Open-source economics

Here's another great TED video about how business in the information age has to be approached differently than business from the industrial age. The change is based on technology, the web, and collaboration.

Yochai Benkler explains how collaborative projects like Wikipedia and Linux represent the next stage of human organization. Yochai Benkler has been called "the leading intellectual of the information age." He proposes that volunteer-based projects such as Wikipedia and Linux are the next stage of human organization and economic production.


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