April 2014


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Holding onto what doesn’t work seems to have become the order of the day.  Rather than open doors for new opportunities we are quite content in maintaining the status quo.  The resume is one such animal that is long overdue for a major overhaul.  Job applicants hate them because it simply doesn’t reflect the whole you, and if one was to try and make it such it would become a book of epic proportions.  Employers hate them because it has become a cookie cutter exercise of consistent formats, embellished with a bit of designer paint and the real content has to be unearthed deep within the smarty crafted eloquent words of today.  In short resumes suck and it doesn’t get any better when as a secondary measure we try and compensate using a barrage of interviews by various parties.

So what is the problem?  In short, having been on both sides of the document and being out of the employed job market for more than 2-1/2 decades the problem is that nothing works.  It doesn’t work because the jobs we are trying to fill, the candidates we are trying to attract and the talent that we are willing to develop cannot be portrayed ‘the resume’.  In fact, if we go a bit afield and look to foreign employees you will find added bits and traits added that are decisively unique, possibly bordering on illegal in some nations (both East and West).  So what do we do?  Do we put up and shut up, do we adapt using compensating measure or is it time for a new straw man to be put forth and developed in the upcoming years?

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I am obviously not happy with what we have today.  There is however some pretty talented content and design examples and this gives my encouragement that the general format of the Holistic Repertoire (HR coincidentally it matches up with Human Resource) will become the new resume of the future (or at least those who want to been understood or for companies who want the whole person). It does not service anyone except those looking for traditional consistency that fails to achieve our goals of either getting work or hiring ‘right’ people.  But what is ‘right’ and how is that different than in years gone by?  Today, 2014 ……. personality, social skills, interests/abilities, talents, and even a bit about what things they have dreamt about.  In short a holistic repertoire of the person and not just a fragment traditional glimpse of work.  Yes, there was a time in which that was all an employer was much interested in and the same also held true as to what a candidate wished to expose about themselves.  As an example of this point many employers are looking for an inside glimpse about the person through their social network activities.  Its not just looking at what they have been engaged in during the last few months but goes back and parallels both work and even school periods of time.  I have personally know about the forensics of social network examination to even look at when posts, views and comments were being made (to what extent) and whether this coincided with a time in which their attention should have been elsewhere.  While on one hand social network experience and exposure is today a positive element it can also be to your demise if it was exercised in a prudent fashion.

The HR, replacement for the long traditional resume, is new and without form.  So what I am about to share with you is based upon what I would either want to share (candidate) or have (employer).  I envision the HR to be a series of tab delimited 1-2 page sections.  Each section addressing a specific focus of interest.  It is my suggestion that at least 3, no more than 5 sections be included in any HR bundle.  The three (3) that I suggest are:

  • Professional,
  • Personal and
  • Talents. 

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The Professional section would be what we know today as the resume and would include;

  • Professional Career Objective (one-two line desire),
  • Education and
  • Work experience.

The Personal section would focus on your interests;

  • Professional/Personal Balance,
  • Personal interests,
  • Accomplishments, and
  • Social Involvements.

Talent section is a place where you can describe some of the things that you have pursued, accomplished but possibly are no longer involved with.  This may be past interests, achievements or involvements that you have had but for whatever reason you are no longer active, and current undertakings including things you want to accomplish (sort of like your bucket list).  Why is this important?  It really reflects a cross section of your evolution as a person, the journey that you have made but also the direction that you are presently going in.

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What I am still struggling with is how to bring this evolution forward.  We also must considered the internal workings of human resource departments that may be constantly challenged by an ongoing barrage of applicants to which the solution has been the use of technology to collect critical data.  I don’t believe that this particular aspect will be a problem because the professional section is not a departure from traditional resume formats.  Its more a case of collecting the additional information that is contained in the new HR form and to be able to relate this to meaningful information that will permit proper consideration.  If you put your HR out there employers may not be ready or interested in accepting this new form.  As an employer if you want the new form how can you foster applicants to comply with it?  I might suggest that its the obligation of employers to encourage the adoption of HR using an application format process.  Ultimately this will lead to a folio that will resemble the proposed HR template previously described.  Keep in mind however that this is not about emulating or creating a form, but producing content rich information that encourages better candidate selection.

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So as we proceed forward into the great unknown its up to us to shape and reshape, invent and reinvent each and everything around us.  Continuous process improvement is about change, not just for the sake of it but because it is providing ever growing value.  Its fundamentally driven by knowledge, experience and the exploitation of new additives whether it be technology or simply the advent of new supporting outlets.  Kaizen (Japanese) means ‘change for the best’ and its my hope that the fundamental adoption of a new style of resume (the HR) be the crown jewel to getting right resources-in right seats-for right growth potential.

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We hear allot about design…..

  • Simplicity of the design,
  • Durability of design,
  • Beautiful design,
  • Failure in design, and
  • Blah-Blah-Blah design.

What the heck is all of this stuff about design?  Thousands if not tens of thousands of books have discussed, formulated and promoted design as the key to outcomes.   But as we see the buck stops at the talk and often goes no where beyond that stage.  Why is this happening?

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Myth #1 – Design is not a Title

Sure you may have the word in your position but design is not reserved to one person or one group.  Everyone does some sort of design.  Design is not a task but an interconnected set of events that compositely give us a sense of doability, complexity and direction in which to advance the development of a product or solution.  I’m sure that most have sat in meetings in which business units will sketch out what they are doing and what they would like to have happen… this is design.  Albeit possibly not to the formal liking of the purists it is none the less design, don’t make fun of it!  Even the administrative assistant who is arranging that all important luncheon meeting is doing so by design.  Some possibly from experience and habit and in some cases by a sketch of things to do and organized into some paradigm that they (or others) can utilize.  So design is not reserved just for those titled but everyone is a designer unto their own rights.  If we think back to our childhood, the moment we observed things and later picked up a crayon, pencil or pen our goal was to design something.  Maybe it was a big red barn, a portrait of our family (in stick figure form along with fido) or maybe it was a more ambitious project to form shapes that lead us to the creation of letters.  All of this is design.

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Myth #2 – Design is Necessary

I prefer to think of design as not being necessary but merely the natural bi-product of thinking.  The human mind cannot process chaos, it strives to have order and seeks out some place where past experiences have had similarities.  The freeing of process to seek a base of information is essential but in doing so we need something that gives us certainty about so so many questions.  Some look for solutions, others question the importance and some even wonder whether we have got some reasonable level of completeness.  To answer these and many other questions we look for help and to achieve this we look to formed methods and techniques.  Experienced individuals will have their own preferences and even some custom made methods that they rely upon to acquire design awareness.  I have relied on tools such as Unified Modeling Language (UML) (structural, behavioral and interactive models) to exercise the multifaceted features of an application project but my design toolbox isn’t limited to this one approach.  Such techniques as high impact inspections, test driven design (TDD) and rapid story creation have been equally valuable and gratifying. These all are beginnings leading to a design vision.  It very well can be and often is more than one, and this is okay.  Multiple options give us flexibility and alternatives which we are most often going to need during the course of a project.  In the case of Agile projects if we look at the arrangement of stories into families, usually surrounding the notion of work to be performed we have a design that can be lifted from it.  In the more classical context of waterfall or v-model methods we are more apt to conceive design as a bi-product of understanding and embracing design.  Both the same yet achieved in difference ways (and possible with prejudice different expected value to be achieved from each of the approaches).

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Myth #3 Design Is Magical

This is where it gets a bit dicey…. is design something you do regardless of sound engineering principals being applied or not?  Those who are proponents of building and exploring (which is by definition research) really do so without a design.  I would, from practical experience, say yes.  Its not that its not important or necessary its because the process being used is intended and focused on doability and the possibilities that can be exploited, nothing more. For this reason this sort of work is intended to lead to knowledge, which in classical terms is a defined requirements vision, to which the formalization for completeness can be exercised.  Unless we intend never to do anything more with it, including repair work, then design is not needed.  However, most will reverse engineer a design from what is produced to not only create a positive maintenance atmosphere but also to definitively answer the question about whether the endless possibilities of the research has been reached.  For others design ‘anything’ are used as guides to form work and task lists of things to be constructed to achieve the desire outcome.  This includes a definitive understanding of how the piece parts will work in harmony or contention, based on the desire of the design outcome (and requirement visions).  The creative aspect of design takes place as the result of formation and the convergence with specific technologies be it hardware, software or idiom (SaaS, Cloud, Big Data, etc.).  Its this exercise that we start to seeing balancing, or the absence of, occurring.  We hear the term dependencies to reflect the level of cohesive and interdependencies that exist in design.  There are reasons for tight cohesiveness, often centered around constraints (memory, bandwidth…) but sometimes its caused by gross negligence and poor practices.  Design management cannot be taken lightly, it required purposeful and dedicated attention to insure that all is made right.

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Myth #4 Design Is a One Size Fits All Proposition

Will the concept is rational, at least in so far as the initial deployment, subsequent activities that involve changes and modifications results in an erosion to design.  This produces some interesting challenges for such paradigms as the software reuse factory, refactoring and agile driven modularity.  So how can this be overcome if at all?  Since it is a foregone conclusion that our lives will not remain static we have to assume change.  We might even have a pretty good idea as to where it will take place, when it is like to occur and to what extent it can be expected.  If we have even the slightest idea about any of these things we can insult our general design in two possible ways.  The first is by utilizing a plug-n-play approach where pieces can be exchanged in an out of the solution set.  The second more difficult approach  involves design retrofitting, the act of redesign taking place as changes occur.  In order to sustain durable and reliable design one must have software support to provide us with real time dynamic vision  into the solutionset.  Using this information is like having a dashboard that permits us to address the impact of change as to the target design it is being made against.  Not all design is evil.  In fact it can be a welcomed relief for legacy applications and those in which design was really never a strong point from inception (e.g. may be caused by rapid response driven deployment or first time out solutions).

imagesMyth #5  Design Mastery Can Be Taught

There are some things that you simply can’t teach without experiencing it.  It takes practice, failure, listening, observing and mentored guidance to become not just the ‘titled’ individual but one that clearly understands and has mastered design.  Disciplines such as structural and civil engineers mandate not just schooling but also board examinations and a period of internship.  Yet in information technology certifications are a matter of choice and not one of mandate.  Some might argue that the risks are different, but are they?  Maybe the most compelling reason for experience is the result of converting intellectual visualization into an habitual endearment to the means of achieving designs that work.  We sometimes make the mistake of thinking about the end and not about the means of achieving it.  In the immortal words of Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.  Design is how it works.”.   Maybe this is why Steve Jobs worked so so well with his long time friend Steve Wozniak.

 

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I have found it interesting to watch over the last several decades the unification goals of neighboring nations.  Once possibly enemies that have forged alliance in order to capitalize on power against more formidable unions and lead economic nations.  In the case of ASEAN the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (2-24-1976) was signed in order to maintain the autonomy of each of the member nations.  This is a bit different that the EU in which a common economic (currency) unity was formed and even involved regional mobility in the form of the Schengen Visa and EU passport.  So it ends up being the convergence of interests in the areas of,

  • Economic Growth (probably the biggest aspect but most complex of all the objectives),
  • Social Progress,
  • Cultural Development and 
  • Stability in the Region

What is a bit confusing is how these goals can possibly come into congruence given the diversity of the countries in terms of economic and cultural differences.  While some believe that all you have to do is to snap your fingers, holds some meetings and discuss how things can be leveled out the reality is that it will require a concentrated unified mandate.  This in an of itself challenges the accord as mentioned earlier.  How can you have compliant change and equalization without directing change within each and every one of the ten (10) member nations?  Some socially and cultural have a much stronger attachment to the ASEAN unification that others, in fact some of the originating member nations who you would think to be the strong backers of change are today some of the most staunch opponents for some very personal and controversial reasons.

The effective implementation of a real and positively constructed alliance will require sweeping change in just about every nation.  While some may have more barriers to overcome, others will still need to make change in order to make prudent inline adjustments.  It will most certainly require a comprehensive examination of key contributors to the goals of ASEAN.  These contributors will then have to be evaluated both internally and in unbiased fashion outside of the nations involved in order to formulate an appropriate action plan and timetable for implementation.  Most certainly additional changes will be required and a close monitoring maintained over the ever changing dynamics within the region.

Most certainly issues that require attention will center on the following.  Each nation is convinced they are bring value to the pact but are apt to either over estimate the value or undervalue their shortcomings.  This is why it is so important that proper impartial evaluation takes place.  Some of the areas will most likely include,

  • economic balance and currency equalization,
  • foreign direct investment policy (fdi),
  • balance of trade within region and globally,
  • trade agreements,
  • import/export policy including anti-dumping and IPR (intellectual property rights) protection,
  • matters relative to special inter-ASEAN activities include immigration, aviation, media, and internet,
  • education (all levels),
  • human rights, and
  • rules of law including arbitration and extradition.

A man is not an island and the creation of the ASEAN alliance brings together both opportunity as well as challenges.  Positive and meaningful creation of ASEAN will depend upon whether its some diplomatic exercise that sounds good but does little, or whether the current 10 members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) are simply fair weather participants.  I know that time will tell but I am hoping that the discussions will become open starting today and not left to occur upon the embarkation or the next scheduled meeting.  Stay tuned for the upcoming regional economic integration to occur in 2015.

One last concern is the question relative to the turbulence that will impact non-ASEAN nations.  Whether its with the general geographic region (Japan, India, Korea, China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand) or much further afield in North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  As we have seen instability in Asian monetary markets sends jitters elsewhere, and with a unification that is new (and possibly unstable) one can only wonder whether the outside world will side with the change or reserve their intimacy on a one-on-one basis with individual ASEAN nations.  I am sure that if the ASEAN pact can do the right things, take the proper measures and be real that the world community will embrace the change.  This is not to say that the world community must give approval but without an acknowledgement ASEAN may be just a bit of paper without being able to capitalize on the strength in unity as it was first imagined.

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Added Details can be found at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASEAN

 

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Engineering (from Latin ingenium, meaning “cleverness” and ingeniare, meaning “to contrive, devise”) is the application of scientificeconomic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. It may encompass using insights to conceive, model and scale an appropriate solution to a problem or objective.  (source: Wikipedia)

As humans we are apt to try and fool ourselves into believing that we aren’t perfect but we can be if we follow a ritualist approach to things.  We do this in order to convert what might be haphazard into a prescriptive, methodical and cohesive way.  One might ask why this is wrong?  In fact it is quite well intentioned and in most cases a quite appropriate thing to do.  Since the beginning of engineering like activities we have worked as skilled, talented artisans.  As the popularity and durability of the profession became established a need flourished to put formality (in written and pictorial form) to it.  But did we do it right or did we simply scribe forth what we had done and overlooked some of the more important aspects such as the ‘skilled craft’ element that only a select few can do?

I’m sure some of you have read ‘How to’ books, how often can you apply what is being written and have it turn out like it was intended to?  Skill, talent and even mental conditions are of immeasurable importance to the outcome whether we follow guiding instructions or not.  We often marvel at those individuals who can use (or not use) a guide and still overcome challenges and may even further improve upon what is being done.   The true purposes behind these pragmatic and detailed engineering frameworks is to institutionalize behavior in the context of the masses.  It is a foregone conclusion that the ‘masses’ must do something with it other than blindly use it.  People need to consume, explore, develop experience with and institutionalize it within the sphere of technical abilities.  It isn’t about adaptation but embellishment.  We hear time and time again that it “will depend” or “it may not fit all circumstances” and my reply is simply “rubbish”.  The framework of engineering is universal and if sound it will bear tentacles applicable to the situations and circumstances for which it is being applied.  An example is the comparison of traditional software development methods (waterfall, RUP, RAD, JAD, iterative, conical, V-Model…) against agility (Scrum, Xp, Crystal…).  They all have three components; a stimuli, construction and confirmation.  Whether the stimuli is created in an ah hoc fashion by inexperienced and unskilled individuals is irrelevant.  What we do with this source and the participants involve is a totally different matter however.  Its only when it start entry into the engineered construction cycle that we make choices about the raw materials.  If substandard or inadequate we know that it needs transformation to a level acceptable for advancement.  As professionals we are obligated to exercise prudent care, not reckless acceptance.  NO Engineering method will ever overcome environmental conditions that are unacceptable.  If one leaves these matters to chance or luck then its not engineering its what we would call ‘game theory’ and the last time I knew there was no mention of such facts in the annals of ‘best practice’.  The ploying of engineering practices to construct make best sense when in harmony with the intellect and experience level of its participants.  Even though there might be a better engineering approach to a problem one can never overlook the readiness of the people involved.  Too much, too dramatic and a steep uphill learning curve that has been contaminated by past failures is not a right setting for revolutionary change.  Let me be a little more to the point, it might be just what is needed however all of the other things (in the negative) that have gone wrong will only make this attempt ripe for failure by way of it being used as an excuse.

The art of engineering takes the pieces, places them inside of a vision (aka a design driven outcome) and is crafted and bonded together.  This is, as we all know, in the most simplistic and idealistic sense.  What really takes place is allot of effort driven by experience, compensated and grown through collaborative efforts, and willingness for open transparency as to what is taking place.  If it becomes an exercise in politics and hidden agendas the engineering initiative has failed from the onset.  This is about producing results and not about a total fixation on happiness.  Both can occur but not at the expense of the other.

This gives you a bit of a sense for engineering in its most primal sense.  Its pragmatic, yet flexible, intent on knowledge equality among the masses and a means to achieve sound/safe/reliable results.  An engineering method is only as good as the authors, for they are human.