Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category

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Dennis Blair the Intel HR Mistake

May 24, 2010

“Blair arrived at a DNI that was bloated, with a staff of several thousand, that had already calcified, institutionally, and lacked support and authority. It proved too difficult for him to break apart firewalls.  Certain things did not make sense…”

This is from Thursday’s article in The Atlantic about Admiral (Ret.) Dennis Blair’s resignation as Director of ODNI. While it’s tempting to slam bureaucratic systems for behaving like bureaucracies, my interest in the Blair story is it highlights the recurring problem of selecting folks for jobs just because they were successful at any number of other jobs, setting them (and their organizations perhaps) up for failure.

Ret. Admiral Blair

From what I read in the news and hear from the IC, it sounds like Blair made fateful political mistakes that could have been avoided with better preparation for the job. But it’s not like new government leaders are given in-briefs on how to play nice with Rahm Emanuel. Blair’s mistakes could also easily be blamed on “the system.” But which system, exactly, is at fault?

Blair is a decorated sailor and respected former leader of countless organizations. The phrase I quoted above probably didn’t surprise Blair on his first day when he arrived at NCTC; one can assume that he saw being its director as a fresh challenge he wanted to blow out of the water. But instead he couldn’t make find his way and so quit, something that might be his career first and probably one of the toughest decisions he’s made as a civilian. So I don’t blame him for failing to bring his kid gloves to the CIA and White House.

It is apparent to me that there is some HR lever that allows for the hiring non-bureaucratic bureaucrats, non-political figures to politic. Was it just an inaccurate position description that lured Blair in? Or another decision maker’s bad hiring judgment? More importantly, will it be flipped off now so that the wrong guy isn’t selected for the job again? As a taxpayer and someone interested in the success of the next ODNI, I would like to know who is responsible and what they are doing about the issue of the government system still (consistently, in my mind) not selecting the right people for jobs.

But the Washington Post’s own editorial is titled “Blair’s Replacement has Problems to Solve,” and rehashes some of the big problems Blair wasn’t able to solve during his tenure before he quit/was asked to leave. But show me one organization anywhere that doesn’t have problems. Without problems, we wouldn’t need leaders! The WaPo editor at least notes that Blair had “poor management” and  “was the product of personal as well as institutional failings.” But how about putting that under the headline “OPM, NCTC Still Searching for Capable Leader.” That’s what I wish these taxpaying, government-dissing journalists would chew on for a while.

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What I Did on my Sick Day

May 21, 2010

I was laid up for most of Tuesday and half of Wednesday, possibly from food poisoning. I had to lie very still to avoid the stabby feeling in my guts.  I’m all better now and on the good side, I had hours and hours of uninterrupted research time on the Internets.

Here’s what I was up to:

  1. Turning over all accounts and files related to the website I created
  2. Looking into free data analysis and visualization tools and resources
  3. Taking online classes in the C programming language from this guy on YouTube
  4. Fiddling with Yahoo Pipes for a media monitoring effort
  5. Lots of lying and sleeping in the mummy position – Michael called me Paigepalegic

Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s useful to go through the motions of implementing a business idea just to go through the motions of exiting; my website was literally and virtually a ‘business in a box’ for someone else. Cha$hing! I’ll go ahead and give credit here to someone I learned a lot from in this: Jarom Adair.
  2. IBM sponsors a bunch of cool research geared towards collaboration and visualization. And it makes its stuff easy to find, hoping someone will come up with a brilliant way to apply or reason to further develop protoypes. Check out this site, a NY Times site deployment, this one, and these three Twitter feeds.
  3. C really is a lot easier than HTML or CSS, the two languages I can claim I know other than English and non-verbal body.
  4. Yahoo Pipes looks deceptively easy.
  5. I love being physically active and am thankful that I still have the ability to run, bike and paddle around on this blue-green Earth!
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Anna Wintour the Creative’s Blotter

March 31, 2010

I just watched “The September Issue” on Netflix and felt so moved that I thought I’d scuttle over to my 16 square feet of office space write-off and blog about it.

links to the preview

The ‘documentary’ is starts off with you in a face to face interview with the real “Devil (who) Wears Prada” while she explains that she thinks people may mock the fashion world but it’s because either they don’t understand it or they feel left out. You can’t tell if she really is an ice princess or the woman who has the hutzpah to put the “industry” in “fashion industry.” By the end of it, I thought the latter.

The scenes were almost all shot in HD and many were of beautiful sets and fashion shots. I suffered a 7 year addiction to Sex and the City and never give a hoot about haute couture but was enthralled with the presented story of how Vogue, no, Anna basically decides what products high-end and low-end stores alike will sell 5 months out.

I actually liked Anna and wouldn’t have a problem with her in person because I like her perfectionism. I think that by following her lead I could actually get along with all those fashiony-types whom she works with. They’re the ink and she’s their blotter.

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Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates: Round 1

March 20, 2010

But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve Jobs directly in the eye, before starting to speak, “Well, Steve, I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found that you already had.” http://ow.ly/1oPxV

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Snowmageddon Stranded me in Santa Monica!

February 10, 2010

No I’m not complaining. I’ve gone shopping, seen sites, jogged along the beach at sunset…what more could one want out of being snowed out of DC in February and “stuck” on the coast of the peninsula that faces Malibu?! I anticipated a return to DC after only a few days here so I kept myself on East Coast time. I’ve always wondered what it’s like getting up early and now I know – it’s like being asleep by 9. Heh.

I’ve been meaning to update my blog with my goings-on but my BFF Sarah beat me to my romp around town last weekend, complete with pictures. I just have an emo shot of me taken with my webcam in my room at the Channel Road Inn. I have been doing a lot of business writing and especially reading. My hair is a mess from being let down after a jog. It’s 8:30pm local time and I’m ready for bed!

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What I Didn’t Know About How Planes Fly

January 30, 2010

I’m flying to LA and Germany next month and normally break out into sweaty anxiety just when imagining airplanes. I’m cool up to 25,000 feet but somewhere between 28k and 31k I decide the I am likely to be sucked out into space like little Jackie tells Robin Williams’ character in Hook or flip over and fall to the ground.

But I know it’s safe and I really want to take the trips so I am preparing mentally and physically. This time I don’t want to be carrying-on my own single serve liquor bottles in plastic baggies (yes the TSA folks let you do that and get a kick out of it).

I’ve decided to learn about physics. Please note I dropped out of H.S. physics when I just couldn’t wrap my head around scientific notation (I still don’t get it).

Today I discovered this Webpage that sets me at ease when imagining the plane tipping.“The top of the wing is rounded and the bottom of the wing is more straight. Air takes longer to travel over the top of the wing than the bottom, which results in more pressure on the bottom, hence the lift. Right? The main reason planes fly is far simpler: wings force air downward, which in turn force the wing (and therefore the plane) upward.”

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Best Global Brands of 2009 Infographic

December 15, 2009

Best 2009 Brands

aled 27%.