Thursday, May 17

Microchip humans who are dangerous

Well, if they can do it to dogs, presumably they will also do it to Humans? I quote:

Millions of dog owners could be forced to pay for microchips for petdogs under plans to be announced next week. Ministers are expected to call for every newborn puppy to be fitted with a device that stores information about the dog, its breed and contact details for its owner.

The information would then be stored on a central database available to the police and the RSPCA, which the government believes would make it easier to track and prosecute owners of dangerous dogs. A consultation on whether to introduce compulsory microchipping in Wales is due to be launched later this year.

Charities campaigning for better laws to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs have welcomed the changes, but concerns have been raised that while many responsible owners will shoulder the cost – between £20 and £30 – owners of dangerous dogs could choose not to comply.

This is a classic case of government impotence. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. there are people who keep dangerous dogs, just how is this microchip going to stop them? You will end up prosecuting the owner anyway, no? And just how difficult would it be to fry the microchip? a short answer is given here from here.

If I had this problem, then I would want to destroy the chip immediately. The best way to do this is with radio frequency interference. Using a microwave gun would work, but it would also hurt the dog. The other way is to build a moderately powered radio transmitter to fry the chip by putting too much power through it. Unfortunately, you would need to tune it to the frequency of the chip, so it would be hard to accomplish. However, you can make a transmitter that will transmit on all frequencies. The easiest way to do this is with a spark gap transmitter. This means using a high voltage, high frequency power supply, discharging it through a spark gap, and grounding one end while attaching a directional antenna to the other and pointing it at the dog. The dog will not be hurt in the few seconds that it will take the chip to be destroyed, and there will be no way to detect that the chip was intentionally destroyed. The downside with this idea is that you will need to build a rather powerful high voltage power supply that may generate unsafe currents.
Here are some schematics:

this is ridiculous.

This is another way of thinking about the universal ID system in the UK (which was stopped) and India (where its still going on). I would guess this would be faster and easier.

Tuesday, May 15

When HR is short for ‘horror’

You know my views on HR. But here’s an interesting article on HR. I quote:

There are plenty of movies and novels about salesmen, copywriters, editors, journalists, accountants, and even CEOs. But when was the last time you saw a movie or read a novel in which the hero/heroine was an HR executive? Never? Ever wonder why? I have my own theory: writers and filmmakers know that their main character should be one with whom the audience can empathise. And having an HR manager as the lead character sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Sure, not all HR execs/departments are bad. There are exceptions, but most are busy proving the rule. Last week, I got a call from a journalist friend who had just resigned from his job at a reputed publication. He was upset with his ex-employer’s HR.

During his last month at the company, he came down with gastroenteritis and took four days’ sick leave. But the HR deducted four days’ salary from his final paycheck though he had plenty of sick leave left. Apparently, his company’s HR policy did not allow an employee to take sick leave (or fall ill) during the notice period.
“What kind of idiocy is this?” he ranted. “Suppose during my notice period I have a heart attack and so can’t come to work for a few days, my company’s humane response would be to aggravate my misery by cutting my salary!”

So far so ok, nothing surprising at all. But check this out.

So what exactly is the role of HR? You don’t have to be an MBA to figure out that HR has four critical functions that, unlike salary processing or attendance marking, can neither be outsourced nor automated: 1) retaining talent; 2) identifying talent outside and persuading them to join the organisation; 3) coming up with sensible ways of measuring performance; and 4) putting systems in place to keep employee motivation high.

While friends in the media cite the odd organisation that may be above average with functions 1 and 2 above, most HR departments are clueless about 3 and 4. This is all the more puzzling, given that if you have an effective way of measuring and giving feedback to employees, then that becomes a training tool as well, and a motivator for employees who are performing well.

I should point out that by statistical definition, there wont be just the odd organisation above average, assuming a normal distribution, there will be a fairly large number of organisations above average otherwise if you have different distributions, then you will have some extraordinarily wonderful organisations which pull up the average compared to a very large great unwashed herd of bad HR organisations.

I know, I know, I am anal, I am quibbling over minor things, but heck..come on, that’s my job on the blog!

Monday, May 14

The main challenge in managing a department

You know what I do when I am asked to transform something? I look at the front line, line managers, and concentrate all my efforts on them. Why? because they are your leaders of your individual contributors. Pretty much all your company’s revenues, customer satisfaction, process improvements and employee satisfaction/motivation rests on these folks.

In the little experience I have had, organisations frequently fail at this level of management. Attention is paid to the global leads, attention is paid to the employees, attention is paid to strategy, attention is paid to so many places, but how many organisations actively pay attention to the frontline line managers? Not many. But if you find an organisation which does this, then you will see that they are good. Pick pretty much any successful organisation that you like and you will find that they spend extraordinary time on the line managers.

Some questions to ask.

  • Do you promote your best individual contributor to being a line manager?
  • How do you ward against the Peter Principle?
  • Do you have a coaching programme by senior management to the fresh line managers?
  • Do you have a brutal succeed or out policy for failed line managers?
  • How do you compensate for the fact that your most successful individual contributor is now a line manager and cannot generate revenues/services?
  • How are you making sure that the new line manager’s previous great skills as a revenue generator / service delivery manager is replicated across his new team?
  • What leadership training are you giving to your line managers?
  • Is there a clear dual track career path? managers and individual contributors.

Sunday, May 13

Daddy, you are more evil than I thought

This was a bit of a good post about a conversation that a Dad had with his son. Given that over the past couple of weeks, I have had similar ones with my son made this interesting.

I quote:

So, says my son asks you like nasty people to steal from poor investors, mutual funds (and he did not say pension funds for school teachers) so that you can join them in taking the loot by being a short-seller – and you don't want the regulators to do anything about it because there are more opportunities for you?
Sheepishly I confess yes.
And he says with a mixture of admiration and horror: “daddy you are more evil than I thought”.