OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 36 – Rarity of Excellence
September 10, 2007
by Sean Hull
Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group
It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We have a lot of new topics coming up, and plenty planned for the new year, so stay tuned.
Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.
In This Issue:
Excellence is a funny word. It sounds really big on paper, but how often do we stop and think of what it really is?
I was recently at dinner and I was noticing how our waiter was particularly attentive. They were asking us what we wanted, but also noticing things, whether we had napkins, or whether our glasses were clean, or what type of extras we wanted with our order. After taking the order they were still paying attention, and obviously in the kitchen they were as well because our food came out promptly, and was cooked well and still steaming hot.
I was talking with my mother about it, we were having dinner together. I said you know it seems so obvious, things like showing up on time, and doing the job you say you’ll do, yet it seems more rare that we actually encounter this. This got me thinking that excellence starts with someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, not necessarily someone who knows the most, or who has the hottest resume.
The same conversation had come up earlier. I had a very close family member in the hospital, and spent a few days there after surgery. Every so often an attendant would come in to check on something, make sure some numbers weren’t too high, or there wasn’t any pain and so on. It was my mother again who was keeping an eye on things, asking lots of questions, and double-checking. I asked, naively if all of that checking was really necessary. I mean don’t they have all of this down on checklists, and don’t they perform these same duties day in and day out, I asked? No, but you really need to keep on them, she said. And it was true, as I watched, I noticed little things. This resident didn’t like this other one, this one tended to be more carefree and forgetful, this one maybe not so friendly. There were even inconsistencies with what the doctor said, and what they had down on their computer printouts, food, and even prescriptions. I was surprised to say the least.
A while back I was reading Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”. It is a hilarious tale, a behind the scenes look at the restaurant industry. I remember one point he made. He said one employer he worked for had a very particular way of hiring candidates. He didn’t much care about resumes, or what was on paper. He was interested in the person’s character. Were they on time, were they honest, were they loyal etc. He said those are character traits you pickup when you are young, and they are much harder to fix or learn. Any skill or knowledge can be learned, if the individual puts their mind to it.
I may be oversimplifying things a bit, but really a large part of excellence involves just a few basics. 1. Showing up on time 2. Doing what you say you will do. and 3. Paying attention to details which includes listening well, and communicating. In a nutshell those are the big ones. So if we are looking for that rare candidate that will really excel, we should look well beyond the resume at these characteristics to find them.
Last April was the
In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.
Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.
The Economist once again brought a great author to my attention. Joseph Finder writes very intriguing fictional tales of corporate culture gone wrong. Layoffs, out-sourcing, technology and security, he hits on a lot of these topics, in a fast-paced dime-store mystery kind of way that is easy to digest and enjoyable.
If you haven’t already had enough of all of the how-do-I-get-my-great-idea-out-there type of books, this one is definitely worth a read. Folks who like Gladwell’s books will probably like this one as well.
It seems The Onion has
found some factual errors on the internet. Impossible!
I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!
SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:
If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.
This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.
Issue 33: Market For Experts
Issue 32: Different Heritages
Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer
Issue 30: Crowdsourcing
Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets
Issue 28: High Availability
Issue 27: Fragile Foundations
Issue 26: Logistical Fitness
Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues
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