Are you involved in creating the future?

20 10 2006

Facts serve no purpose by themselves, they exist.

We confuse the accumulation of facts with education.

A good education should inspire us to continue to discover and understand more. It should give us the tools and teach us how to think.

Thinking is the abilty to visualize, create and discover relationships between facts.

Intelligence should not only be measured by how much we know, but rather on how we apply our thinking and on much of that knowledge is passed to others for the future.

The future will be in the hands of those learning today.

Are you sharing your intelligence with others and creating that future?

(inspired by the study “Are they really ready to work?”)

Related Links

The future of our entry level workforce – gloomy

Are they really ready to work? (PDF)

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The future of our entry level workforce – gloomy

19 10 2006

Will our future entry level workforce be competitive and competent?

Are we ready to build a nation full of entrepreneurs and world class workers?

I highly recommend you read the study published by the The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management, entitled:

Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce”

According to this study of 431 companies in the US, representing over 2 million employees in a variety of industries and geographic areas, the future is bleak.

“The future U.S. workforce is here—and it is woefully ill-prepared for the demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) workplace.”

The basic skills and knowledge identified and considered to be very important elements for future employees include:

  • English Language (spoken)
  • Government/Economics
  • Reading Comprehension (in English)
  • Humanities/Arts
  • Writing in English (grammar, spelling, etc.)
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics History/Geography
  • Science

The applied skills, which are increasing in importance as criteria for success in the future:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving—Exercise sound reasoning and analytical thinking; use knowledge, facts, and data to solve workplace problems; apply math and science concepts to problem solving.
  • Oral Communications—Articulate thoughts, ideas clearly and effectively; have public speaking skills.
  • Written Communications—Write memos, letters and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration—Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers; be able to work with diverse teams, negotiate and manage conflicts.
  • Diversity—Learn from and work collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, races, ages, gender, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints.
  • Information Technology Application—Select and use appropriate technology to accomplish a given task, apply computing skills to problem-solving.
  • Leadership—Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals; use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others.
  • Creativity/Innovation—Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work; communicate new ideas to others; integrate knowledge across different disciplines.
  • Lifelong Learning/Self Direction—Be able to continuously acquire new knowledge and skills; monitor one’s own learning needs; be able to learn from one’s mistakes.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic—Demonstrate personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time and workload management.
  • Ethics/Social Responsibility—Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior; act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind.

Excepts from the study:”Business leaders must take an active role in outlining the kinds of skills we need from our employees for our companies and economy to thrive.”

“As business leaders, we must also play a role in creating opportunities for young people to obtain the skills they need. Businesses can partner with schools and other organizations that work with young people to provide internships, job shadowing programs and summer jobs. Businesses can encourage their employees to serve as mentors and tutors. Businesses can invest in programs at the local and national level that have demonstrated their ability to improve outcomes for young people.
Finally, business leaders can use their expertise in innovation and management to help identify
new and creative solutions.”

We assume that our schools are producing graduates with fundamental business abilities, why isn’t it happening?

Are we going to accept that the training of the future workforce is in the hands of private business, and not the educational system?

What is the cost to business when new employees must be given remedial training, just to get them up to entry level?

What is your organization doing right now to ensure, or create talent for the future?

Read the study, pass it around the office and makes sure the boss and human resource people get copies.

This is no longer someone elses’s problem.

“ The numbers don’t bode well for the future—the future of our workforce. It is in our interest to help solve the problem. And business has the capacity to help solve the problem by partnering with education and community leaders to create opportunities for young people to practice the skills they need to be successful.” – Bill Shore, Director, U.S. Community Partners, GlaxoSmithKline

Related Links

The Conference Board: Are they really ready for work?

Are they really ready to work (PDF)

Most young people entering the US workforce lack critical skills essential for success

Young Workforce is “Ill-Prepared”





Re-inventing the job interview

6 09 2006

I’ve been monitoring with great interest the idea and reactions to Seth Godin’s post The end of the job interview. He questions our current job interview process and proposes an interesting alternative.

Perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at our hiring and interview processes. Are they serving our needs and requirements or creating future problems?

Reinventing the job interview and hiring process makes perfect sense when we reflect that it was developed for a 20th century workforce that consisted primarily of manufacturing laborers.

The 21st century, brings an abundance of knowledge workers and forces us to ask what is the best method to determine if they are right for our organization. The interview and process required in order to understand the potential employees abilities are very different for knowledge workers.

The top leadership and management jobs in our companies have always been filled by candidates that have come with recommendations from other companies or executive networks. This provides a certain level of security that they had the skills in the old job, but no guarantee they will succeed in your organization and corporate culture in the future.

We are already seeing a shift in how we hire and select candidates. The use of networking and on-line social networks are allowing job seekers and employers access to individuals (at all levels of the company) who come with a certain degree of “recommendation”.

Dr. Ellen Weber has added her opinion to Seth’s ideas at Brain Based Business. Her piece Seth wants to bury job interviews for his own alternatives adds scientific and psychological perspectives as to why or why the concepts might just work.

David Maister lends his voice to the discussion with a resounding “I’m of the belief that the overwhelming majority of recruiting interviewing is a complete waste of time. In Screening for Character he argues that we should be hiring attitude and character, and our goal in the hiring process is to identify these traits. But there is a catch. We are not trained to do this. He suggests that candidate recommendations from others that we respect and trust are our current best method to assure “success” in the hiring process.

It’s a profound, extensive and obviously well known dilemma in our society and organizations. We know exactly what’s broke and not working well.

Now, who knows how to fix it?





10 Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

24 08 2006

To complement my list of 10 things you should do on a Friday afternoon (Link), here are some of the activities that should be avoided on Friday afternoons.

Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

  1. Initiate a major project
  2. Schedule any type of meeting or seminar with customers or employees
  3. Give an employee review
  4. Make important strategic business decisions
  5. Ask people to work extra hours
  6. Give bad news to the office, your team or co-workers
  7. Raise your rates or product prices
  8. Obsess about or relive any failures that occurred during the week
  9. Go out for a 3 martini lunch and come back to the office complaining
  10. Give the boss an ultimatum or try and force a decision

Related Link

10 things you should do on Friday afternoon





The 6 Fundamental Concepts Behind Every Successful Business

22 08 2006

1. Supply and Demand. The fundamental idea behind business and a market economy. Want to determine where to sell or buy, or predict if prices will be going up or down? Understand the concept of supply and demand.

2. Cause and Effect. Physics applied to the business environment. What you do will affect your competitor and the market and vice versa.

3. People like to feel important and special. Learn this and you’ve discovered one of the fundamental qualities of a great salesperson or marketer.

4. Simple clear communication, on-time. Don’t make it technical, keep it easy to understand. Answer all questions when asked, and never forget to call back and follow-up.

5. Get the work done, on time, and with the highest degree of quality possible.

6. Ask lots of questions and get all the answers.





Do you use summer internships at your company?

24 05 2006

In Mexico and the USA, internships are not an important part of the business culture or human resources strategy as compared to Europe.  The “dual education” system has not yet caught on in the Americas.

In Mexico the “part-time” job is virtually non-existent for most high school and college students because the position becomes “full time”, filled by adults who have not had the benefit or access to higher education.  Students who are going on to universities, emerge from the education system with very little practical work experience. 

In the USA, companies look at interns as expensive, or not economically viable, or as a method to evaluate potential candidates for the company after graduation.  Very few, if any businesses look at internships a method to increase and share knowledge for the common good, and to inject new ideas and enthusiasm into an existing structure.

So here is where I point your attention to the following…..why not actively seek and promote internships at your company?  It will provide “real world” training for these people.  I’m sure you can think of some activities with a clear objective for a 6 or 8 week project, that could be economically viable or close to it, make sure they must interact with knowledgeable employees, and let the entire company benefit from their ideas and enthusiasm while at the same time offering some structured business training and a look at how the world really works.

If you are questioning….”why me”…”why should I pay for training someone who won’t be around a long time”….”what’s in it for me”….think about the following:

Young people have different and new ideas that your people are not using or thinking about.  They also have terribly impractical and unrealistic ideas that your organization can banish and eliminate from their thinking processes.

The interaction between theoretical and practical applications provokes questions about how to do business….and why…for everyone involved.

Established workers can provide information that will greatly increase the productivity and shorten the learning curves on “real life organizations” for the interns

Your company can interview and pick the “best and the brightest”, who knows perhaps when they graduate they will come knocking on the door again

You might make the world a better place to live

Good public relations (OK, so greed is a motivator too).

Outline for Internship Program

  1. Identify specific objectives or projects within your company that can be completed by high school and college students in 6 to 8 weeks. 
  2. Actively promote the internship idea with local high schools and universities, your suppliers and customers.  Let them understand what the program is, and let them suggest possible candidates.
  3. Map out the process required to meet the objective, and identify the people in your organization (or outside) that must provide information and interact with them.
  4. Have a company meeting with these people, explaining the goals of the project, and the reason for bringing in interns.
  5. Hire.
  6. Provide and explain the tools, the project and the expected outcome. 
  7. Evaluate the project in 3-4 weeks with the interns, make modifications as required.
  8. 7-8 weeks.  Final review of the project, the interns, feedback, what worked, what didn’t and why.
  9. Do it again next year.