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    Friday
    Feb052016

    GUEST POST: American Muscle Cars, Ranked

    Editor's Note: Today, in a very special event on the Steve Boese blog, we present (another) very, very rare guest post. 

    Today's post is from none other than the star of stage and screen William Tincup, HCM industry thought leader. Prior to immersing himself in the world of HR and HR Tech, William piloted fighter jets with the Navy, and allegedly had an encounter with a Russian MiG in disputed airspace in the South Pacific. Later, William went on to graduate from the prestigious Naval Aviator's academy in Southern California, where he also gained notice with his singing and volleyball playing ability.

    William has always had that proverbial 'need to speed', so today we present this take on a very, very important topic: American muscle cars.

    Enjoy! 

    Classic American Muscle Cars, Ranked

    By William Tincup

    Notice the word classic. So, if you're pissed that your 2017 Corvette Z isn't listed, well, this list isn't for you. Similar but different, this list will not rank Jaguars or Lamborghini’s, etc. By using the words "classic" and "American" the list is really focused on the greatness that was produced here in the 60's and 70’s. Okay, okay. Here we go...

     

    10. 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.7 secs

    Exterior: Sebring Yellow (Black trim)

    Interior: Black

    Hardtop

     

    09. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.3 secs

    Exterior: Dusk Blue

    Interior: Black

    Hardtop

     

    08. 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 Judge

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 6.0 secs

    Exterior: Orbit Orange

    Interior: Black

    Convertible preferred

    07. 1969 Dodge Charger 500

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.5 secs

    Exterior: Bright Red (white trim)

    Interior: Black

    Hardtop

     

    06. 1970 Plymouth Cuda 440

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.6 secs

    Exterior: In-Violet (Black trim)

    Interior: Black

    Hardtop

     

    05. 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.5 secs

    Exterior: Candyapple Red

    Interior; Black

    Hardtop

     

    04. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette 427

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 6.5 secs

    Exterior: British Green

    Interior: Tobacco

    Convertible preferred


      

    03. 1967 Shelby GT500

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 4.8 secs

    Exterior: Silver Frost (Black trim)

    Interior: Black

    Hardtop

    02. 1967 Pontiac GTO

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.2 secs

    Exterior: Signet Gold

    Interior: Parchment

    Hardtop

     

    01. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

    Speed: 0 to 60 mph: 5.3 secs

    Exterior: Misty Turquoise

    Interior: Ivory

    Convertible preferred

     

    Something to think about. In your opinion, when does a typical mid-life crisis occur for men? Pick a range of years. Now, think back to the guys (and gals) that fought in WWII. Would the makers of these classic cars AND buyers of these cherry rides... would they be in that mid-life crisis range? Probably huh. Well, now you know where innovation really comes from. 

    You can comment if you like, but if you disagree with me, of course you would be wrong.

    Steve here - fantastic stuff, William. Love the Chevelle at #1. Also am a big fan of the Cuda. But I would gladly take any of them.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Feb032016

    Learn a new word: Goodwill Impairment

    If you follow the tech and finance news at all, you will no doubt be familiar with the recent and ongoing troubles and challenges being experienced at Yahoo.  

    Yesterday the 'old school' internet company announced some strategic shifts, including the plans to reduce its workforce by 15% in the coming months, resulting in an employment count of about 9,000 -  42% below the level in 2010.

    Part of the earnings announcements included this statement, about on-paper losses totaling about $4.4B due to an accounting exercise known as 'Goodwill Impairment'. Here is the language from Yahoo, then we'll break it down a little, because well, that's what we do here on the blog:

    We concluded that the carrying value of our U.S. & Canada, Europe, Latin America and Tumblr reporting units exceeded their respective estimated fair values. The goodwill impairment resulted from a combination of factors, including decreases in our market capitalization, projected operating results and estimated future cash flows.

    Seems kind of boring, almost normal accounting-speak right? Let's look at the definition of a 'Goodwill Impairment', courtesy of our pals at Investopedia:

    Goodwill that has become or is considered to be of lower value than at the time or purchase. From an accounting perspective, when the carrying value of the goodwill exceeds the fair value, then it is considered to be impaired. Negative publicity about a firm can create goodwill impairment, as can the reduction of brand-name recognition.

    And in the notes about the accounting requirements related to Goodwill Impairment for companies, Investopedia says this:

    Generally accepted accounting principles, (GAAP), require businesses that have the type of assets that might be impaired to make periodic tests to see if those assets are, in fact, impaired.

    So the accounting rules require if your business has a potentially 'impaired' asset like Yahoo's $1.1B Tumblr division, that you must from time to time evaluate (and likely have audited), the 'true' value of the asset. And in the case of Tumblr, it turns out that it really isn't worth $1.1B and the true value is something like $300M, then you have to take a charge for the difference, ($800M), in the financial statements. And that stings investors a little bit. Ok, maybe a lot.

    Why the mini-accounting lesson?

    Because the periodic review, valuation, and write-down of financial assets in the accounting sense is probably an exercise we can and should apply to all kinds of projects, technologies, programs, even personal relationships. 

    Does that 'progressive' and high-tech performance management system and process you implemented in 2012 still have value today? Or does it need some kind of 'impairment' write-down as well?

    Does the new employee orientation guide that you spent big bucks developing and printing up in 2010 still have relevance today, in light of all the changes in business, technology, employee expectations, and more?

    Does your 'best work friend' that you have had since 2008 remain the 'right' person for you to pal around with, or are they kind of holding you back at the office?

    As Yahoo's experience with it's Tumblr acquisition remind us, things can change really, really fast. And an asset that was worth $1.1B just a couple of years ago suddenly is worth less than half that amount today. But the 'Goodwill Impairment' while painful, at least provides financial types a mechanism to recognize these changes, attempt to make them right on the financial statements, and give leaders a chance to move forward from a new starting place. And when times are bad, that at least offers a little bit of hope moving forward.

    If you could take a 'Goodwill Impairment' charge in your business or life today, what would it be?

    Tuesday
    Feb022016

    We value hard work, but we reward natural talent

    Of all the phrases used to describe a candidate or an employee, 'He/she is a hard worker' is probably one of the most valued by employers, colleagues, and the people in general. We like people that work hard. We value the effort, the grind, the grit of folks who show up, dig in, plow through - day in and day out. Some even think that 'working hard' is actually a skill akin to other technical or practical kinds of aptitudes that are often harder to find.

    After all, 'hard work', even if it is a skill, is probably one that can be 'learned' by just about everyone. In many ways you just have to decide to work hard and there it is, you are a hard worker. Doesn't exactly work that way for other skills like coding, painting, or hitting 3-point baskets.

    But as much as we value hard work,  a skill that is readily observable, some recent research suggests that we value (and reward) something more intangible much, much more - the ore opaque notion of 'natural talent.'

    Researchers Chia-Jung Tsay and Mahzarin Banaji examined what has been called the 'naturalness bias', the tendency to choose and reward so-called 'naturally talented' people over the classic 'hard-worker' in a series of experiments that were recently described in FastCo Design. Here is an excerpt from the piece: 

    "We are likely influenced by concepts such as the Protestant work ethic, and the American dream, and ideals such as a truer meritocracy, opportunity, and social mobility that can be achieved with enough hard work and motivation," says management scholar Chia-Jung Tsay of University College London, via email. "We may subscribe to these ideas, but our preference for and fascination with naturalness still seem to emerge through our actual choices."

    Tsay’s research has documented this tendency—which Malcolm Gladwell coined as the "naturalness bias"—across creative fields. A few years back, Tsay and Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji asked 103 professional musicians to rate two performers based on a written profile and clips of them playing Stravinsky's Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka. The two performers were actually the same person, with one profile tweaked to emphasize work ethic and the other made to highlight natural talent.

    In questionnaires, study participants claimed to value effort and practice over innate ability. But when it came time to rate the "two" performers, they gave the natural higher marks on talent, likelihood of future success, and value as a musical company hire, Tsay and Banaji reported in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. In a follow-up, the researchers found that seasoned experts favored naturals even more than novice musicians did—a finding with troubling workplace implications, given that veterans tend to make hiring decisions.

    Did you catch that? Two performers, who were actually the same performer, and the one that was pitched as having some higher level of natural talent was rated more positively and favorably than the performer who was portrayed as someone whose achievements were a product of hard work. Additionally, the more experienced and 'senior' the evaluator, the more likely they were to reward the 'natural talent' over the hard worker.

    Really interesting implications for this data, particularly in the world of talent evaluation and hiring. If the 'naturalness' bias does exist in organizations, then they could be overlooking or discounting individuals that are totally qualified and capable of performing at a high level, if their history of 'hard work' is somehow diminished in value in the eyes of the talent evaluators.

    More interesting still is that while this research appears to suggest the existence of a bias towards 'natural talent', it seems like 'hard work' is much more reliable in the long run. 

    Let's toss it back to my favorite metaphor for talent and workplace comparisons - basketball.

    'Natural talent' may account for a high degree of accuracy shooting 3-point baskets. But this 'skill' also can come and go in the course of a game, season, and career - sometimes inexplicably. 

    Playing tough, solid, and aggressive defense however, is usually chalked up at least primarily to 'hard work', which tends to be much more reliable, repeatable, and predictable. 

    It can be kind of hard to 'see' natural talent in all kinds of fields. Hard work is a little easier to spot.

    Monday
    Feb012016

    Intelligent Technology

    Because my life is much, much less interesting than yours, I am spending my Sunday night doing two things: Watching NBA basketball and reading this - The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report. 

    There is some really interesting information, research, and conclusions about the most important tech trends for the coming 3 - 5 years in the Accenture report, as well as a (probably unintentional) nod to my friends over at Ultimate Software as their slogan 'People First', is literally all over the Accenture report.

    Accenture identifies 5 big themes in their technology vision for organizations, and there is one in particular, actually Trend #1, 'Intelligent Automation', that I was most interested in, and wanted to explore a little bit. A few weeks ago I posted my 'What HR should be talking about in 2016' piece, and in that piece, (written over the holidays and before I became aware of the Accenture report), I had this to say about 'Intelligent Technology' - pretty much the same thing as 'Intelligent Automation':

    But this year, I hope that HR and HR tech expands not just the capability but the conversation in this area just a bit further, into something more akin to a kind of 'intelligent' set of tools and workflows that will help HR, managers, and employees complete processes, tasks, and hopefully allow them to make better decisions. This technology would not just predict the likelihood of a potential outcome, but would 'learn' from usage patterns, history, preferences, and more about what you (the employee) should do next, given a set of data and process conditions. That could mean surfacing the 'right' learning content when you get assigned to a new project, suggesting you make an internal connection with a specific colleague when you run a search in the corporate knowledge base for a specific topic, or if you are a manger, provide you intelligent recommendations about how to handle coaching conversations with your team members, adapted to their individual profiles and preferences. 

    Pretty heady stuff, right? I spent at least 20 minutes on that post. For real.

    Now let's take a look at the above-mentioned Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report and take a look at a bit of what they have to say about 'Intelligent Automation':

    On the surface it may appear to be a simple transfer of tasks from man to machine. But look a little closer. The real power of intelligent automation lies in its ability to fundamentally change traditional ways of operating, for businesses and individuals. These machines offer strengths and capabilities (scale, speed, and the ability to cut through complexity) that are different from—but crucially complementary to—human skills. And their increasing sophistication is invigorating the workplace, changing the rules of what’s possible so that people and their new digital co-workers can together do things differently. And do different things. 

    Machines and artificial intelligence will be the newest recruits to the workforce, bringing new skills to help people do new jobs, and reinventing what’s possible. 

    Although the two pull quotes are not exactly the same, mine is kind of narrow, and talks about some HR tech-specific use cases while Accenture is talking really big picture kinds of things, at their core they are really talking about the same things. Technology, automation, and intelligent solutions that will do what machines can do best, (collect, analyze, and synthesize large data sets), and which will in the most effective organizations combine with human intelligence, experience, and social understanding to lead to the most effective outcomes.

    I have to admit is was pretty cool to see the Accenture report this weekend and read that Intelligent Automation/Technology was featured so prominently in their take on 2016 as it was on my, HR-centric take from the beginning of the year. It feels kind of validating in a way. Now both Accenture and I could be wrong about this I suppose, but at least I don't feel crazy for positing the idea.

    Ok, enough, the Knicks are about to start. Check out the Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report for more information on this, and after you have checked it out, send a note to your HR Tech provider to see what, if anything they are working on towards a future of 'Intelligent Technology'.

    Have a great week! 

    Friday
    Jan292016

    GUEST POST: Girl Scout Cookies, Ranked

    Editor's Note: Today, in a very special event on the Steve Boese blog, we present a very, very rare guest post. 

    Today's post is from none other than the mighty Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, Professor of Many Things at St. Norbert College, father or twins, founding member of The 8 Man Rotation, and all around swell guy. Matt's past is a little less clear, some say in 1935 he ran guns to Ethiopia, and in 1936 he fought in Spain on the loyalist side. I like to think he may have killed a man, but that's the romantic in me. 

    Nonetheless, and without delay, I present Matt's take on a very, very important topic: Girl Scout Cookies. Enjoy!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Girl Scout Cookies, Ranked 

    By Matthew Stollak

    If you aren’t already aware, it’s Girl Scout Cookie season. If the Girl Scouts haven’t already been to your front door selling their wares, they are waiting outside your local supermarket, or a dutiful parent is pitching them at your office.

    I’m on record as stating that Girl Scout cookies are mediocre, but you’ll buy them anyway. So, if you have to purchase them, here’s the definitive 2016 ranking.

    12. Caramel deLites/Samoas – Controversial, I know. It has chocolate, it has caramel. But, it also contains the devil’s floss – toasted coconut. Worst!

    11. Cranberry Citrus CrispsWhat focus group demanded these? Is it still Thanksgiving?

    10. Lemonades – There are many great icings in the world…chocolate, vanilla….yet, you choose lemon?!?!?

    9. Savannah Smiles – You can try to cover the sour taste of lemon with powdered sugar, but it is still a fail. More like Savannah Frowns, I’m afraid.

    8. Rah-Rah Raisins - It’s horrible to reach for a chocolate chip cookie, only to find it is oatmeal raisin. Now add yogurt and make it mass-produced, and you have something not worth cheering about.

    7. Trios – Too much of everything….chocolate chips, peanut butter, oatmeal. Should work in theory, but the whole is less than its parts. (Steve here - agree, and oatmeal does not belong in cookies)

    6. Toffee-tastic – Rich, buttery cookies with golden toffee bits. Add chocolate and it would move up the charts.

    5. Trefoils – This is your basic shortbread cookie. Not bad, but it doesn’t wow you either.

    4. Thanks-A-Lot - They take the Trefoil and add fudge to the bottom. Plus, the embossed “Thank You” is in several languages. So, not only is it tasty, it’s educational as well.

    3. Do-Si-Dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich – Top 3, but could rise higher if they switched out the oatmeal cookie with the shortbread.

    2. Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs It’s a generic PB Twix. 

    1. Thin Mints – What else could be at the top? Especially out of the freezer, you know you’ll eat a whole sleeve.

    Steve here - Thanks Matt for weighing in on this important topic.

    And as always with these 'Ranked' posts, you could disagree, but you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!