Showing posts with label Teamwork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teamwork. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2013

Teamwork's Just Another Word for Shifting Blame

Lyrics aren't TheHackerCIO's profession, but I'm sore tempted to write them about the evil Idol of "Teamwork." Perhaps, to the tune of that old standard, "Me & My Bobby McGee." Something like:

 "Shifting blame was easy, Lord, when we were screwed and blued ..." 


"Teamwork's just another word for Shifting All the Blame ... "

I know whenever I hear people singing praise to "Teamwork," that 5-9s of the time (i.e., 99.999%, for those of you unused to uptime claims), they are euphemistically referring to a Blame-shifting subterfuge, rather than a productive collaborative effort. 

Recently, for example, Beth Comstock angered TheHackerCIO with her conventional Whiz-Dumb -- so typical of the Bureaucratic Hidebound Enterprise (where TheHackerCIO has unfortunately spent the majority of his career) -- that "There is No Lone Genius; Hire a Team". 

Which, in response, elicited my very popular posting, Never Hire the Greatest Scientist The World Has Ever Known, mostly focused on Newton, but which could just as well be generalized to "Never Hire the Greatest Minds the World Has Ever Seen," and broadened to include many other notables, including Rene Descartes, or, in more modern times,  Einstein, who noted of himself:

"I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork; for well I know that to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person should do the thinking and commanding" [ref: here]

Can you envision the HR department interview? So, Mr. Einstein, are you a Team player? 

So many today seem to worship at the alter of the "Team Player." In my experience, the "Team Player," is either one who is too junior to work independently, without senior direction and supervision, or one who wishes to have others involved in his work products, so that blame is either difficult to assess or to attribute to one agent. I can't really see any other advantage to it. 

As the reference cited notes, this also was the belief of Descartes, the founder of Analytic Geometry among myriad other things. He noted in his Meditations, as summarized here, that:

"the works of individuals are superior to those conceived by committee because an individual’s work follows one plan, with all elements working toward the same end. He considers that the science he learned as a boy is likely flawed because it consists of the ideas of many different men from various eras." 

Frankly, anyone can verify these claims very simply: just sit on a committee. Almost any committee will do. But, especially, on a "Steering Committee." You wouldn't allow a committee to steer your car, bus, or plane, but suddenly everyone goes mystically silent when someone proposes the same thing for directing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of technology and equipment. Wreckage everywhere is the result, uniformly. 

None of this means that there isn't value to be found from collaboration. But, the benefit that does accrue comes from and is made possible by the individual achievement of the actors involved. Individual achievement is a "basic." It's a fundamental. It's a basis, on top of which collaborative synergies can layer in and develop. To put that down is to destroy the very underpinnings of achievement. Only an HR department can do that effectively. 

I Remain, With Single Harness, 


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Never Hire The Greatest Scientist The World Has Ever Known

Once again, The HackerCIO is ticked. He's reading Beth Comstock's article:

How I Hire: There Is No Lone Genius

Since there is no Lone Genius, there must have been no Newton. And, obviously, no one should ever hire anyone like Newton. It isn't that everything Beth suggests is wrong. But consider how Newton contradicts this popular, conventional Whiz-Dumb. By her standards, one of the greatest, most innovative minds of all time should have been avoided by employers!

I don't know if Newton -- or for that matter, the very notion of the Lone Genius -- is romantic. Maybe the hacker soul isn't compatible with grokking that idea, but I know for certain that Newton was a complete and total lone genius. Experience and research about Newton indicate that his lasting success -- namely, in laying the foundations of modern physics -- resulted not a whit from any collaboration or teamwork. Newton never had any collaborator or competitor who drove him anywhere -- other than, perhaps, crazy. In fact, his competitions with Robert Hook had nothing but a negative effect on him and resulted in a reluctance to publish which only hampered the development of Science. He almost didn't publish his creation of the Calculus because of his competitive experiences.

Plenty of innovation resulted from this loner: The Calculus. The Physical Science of Mechanics. The Physics of Light.  Seems like he'd be pretty useful in a startup. Seems like a man with a biography called "Never At Rest," might have had a decent work ethic. 

Now consider the 4 traits proposed by Beth for hiring, but against the backdrop of Newton:
1) The fish out of water. Newton, the Loner, was the ultimate fish out of water. 
2) Someone who can FIO (Figure It Out).  Again, this non-team-player was the ultimate in FIO, fortitude and creativity. This is an employee who couldn't figure out the Mechanics of The Celestial Universe, so he invented Calculus as a tool. That sounds like the paradigm case of FIO!
BTW, I would never hire anyone who worked for the Peace Corps.
3) Candidates with design training. Newton learned tool-making and doll-house miniature building, as a child. Seems to me like design training. Again, these aren't team sports.
4) The well-balanced player. I doubt if Newton would be characterized as well-balanced, but he certainly balanced his equations! He mastered Calculus balancing it with Physics, as well as Alchemy/Chemistry and Religion. And on the business side he superlatively managed and led the Mint in the project of the complete recoinage of England. Pretty good business administration for a lone genius who never had a friend.
TheHackerCIO hates it when people denigrate the lone genius. Genius of any variety must be celebrated. Hired. Encouraged.  If only we could find plenty of these loners/geniuses. I'd hire every damn one! And he hates it when people worship the false god of teamwork. I hate prejudice against single player sports, too. Tennis is one-on-one competition. That doesn't teach life lessons?  What about the lessons of Golf, where you can play against EVERYONE, including yourself! Now there's a model for corporate emulation!!!
Why is it that while everyone loves innovation, they hate the lone innovator?

I Remain, With Edge Honed,