DEADLINE, chapters 6 & 7. It feels like this woman fell from heaven.

Mr. T starts chapter 6 in a tough situation. Not only is he afraid of how many people he’ll have reporting to him, but he also must choose each one of them. At least, eighteen, according to his calculations. How is he supposed to start deciding among 200-ish software managers? Well, Mr. Tompkins uses his secret weapon, a hidden ability that has been in his possession since his early years…the art of procrastination.

“Lazy Like a Sunday Morning” flickr photo by andymiccone shared into the public domain using (CC0)

To avoid facing the work he had pending, he started reading a book called Structural Cybernetic Management that Lahksa had given him. After a while, Waldo started a conversation which eventually led Mr. T to realize that he needed somebody to help him make decisions, to which Waldo suggested the person who was originally chosen to take Mr. T’s position: Belinda Binda.

After reading her resume and hearing about her from Lahksa, Mr. Tompkins was 100% positive that she would make for a great consultant, even if she was a bag lady living by the docks. He headed out to look for her and once she was found, they had a weird first conversation.

In a few words, they both agreed that the book Mr. T was reading didn’t seem to understand what management is about, to which Binda began to explain the essential “body parts” of a good manager. After a long conversation, Mr. T asked Belinda to work for him and she took the offer.

The body parts Binda mentioned were:

  • Heart. It is what people respond to. Leaders with no heart can lead, but people won’t follow them.
  • Gut. That little voice that tells you if you’ve found what you were seeking for or if you need to keep looking even if the opposite seems true.
  • Soul. Lets an atmosphere where intimate interconnections can happen exist.
  • Nose. Sniffs out rubbish.

We’ve all felt our gut trying to tell us something at some point. This article explains how gut feelings are some kind of natural algorithms that often compare to results thrown by data analysis and computing. There are many ways in which these feelings may manifest, but they won’t be very useful if we don’t learn to recognize them. The article may not be very scientific, but it includes the voice of experience and a few pieces of advice that may come in handy for any type of management.

“nose” flickr photo by aglehg shared into the public domain using (PDM)

In chapter 7, the plot is very simple. Mr. Tompkins and Binda both go and interview several of the candidates for project managers. Since they are all located somewhere within the campus, Binda suggests that it’d be better if they got to meet them personally rather than just reading their resumes. It probably also helps with the gut part mentioned in the previous chapter.

On the first day, around thirty interviews were completed, but only three seemed to be important enough to capture most of the points Mr. T made on his journal.

During the first interview, they asked the candidate what his view of management was. He answered with an analogy with the movie Patton and how the first battle scene explained his understanding of management. Once it was finished, Binda explained to Mr. T that the Patton analogy that the candidate used was not what was actually happening in the movie. Mr. T wrote down the actual metaphor for management on his journal: “By the time the battle begins, the manager’s real work is already done”.

The second interview was an example of what they were looking for. Even if Binda insisted on hiring him right as the interview started, she had her reasons to. Elem Kartak -the candidate- had rearranged his office to better adapt to his and his people’s needs. Also, his people seemed to have very good opinions on him. Both of these facts were enough for Binda to tell that Elem was awake enough to alter his world to make it harmonize with their goals.

The most relevant candidate was the last of the day: Molly Makmora. Mr. T and Binda were witnesses of the semi-anonymous system she had for her people to confess to her any problems they were having. Molly explained how it makes it easier for the employees and how much it has helped them all. She was hired, but her relevance didn’t end there. When they were deciding what project she would be managing, Binda suggested a similar one to those she had worked on before, since she has already proven to be competent on that level. Mr. T also wrote about that on his journal.

Mr. Tompkins had previously scanned through the resumes and ordered them according to what he thought would be the best candidates. He felt like this probably helped throughout the day.

The rest of the important points are related to the interviewing process. These are advices for directing interviews and hiring new people:

  • Letting different gut feelings complement each other may be useful, so doing these processes alone is not the best option.
  • People that were already hired may have other great candidates in mind and may lead to new good hires.
  • Finally, the most important one, listen more than you speak.

I want to elaborate a little bit on the last point. Binda mentioned that it’s important to notice how people react to awkward silences since it may give you a clue about how they behave or what their thoughts are. This article lists 9 tips on conducting interviews, and number 8 is, precisely, “Listen, really listen”. It explains that, not only silence can help you understand people, but letting them drift off and explain as much as they want about certain topics when answering may also reveal some of their traits. Although it has a different approach, I recommend reading all 9 points in the article, many of them make sense on the management area.

“The Silence (only with some Ennio Morricone in the background..)” flickr photo by andymiccone shared into the public domain using (CC0)

These last two chapters didn’t include many technical terms, so it was a little more difficult to find information to back them up. Regardless, it’s interesting to see how several of the points made in the book still remain to these days.

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