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    (February 20, 2002) - There are at least two pieces of legacy that we will inherit from the current "Enron Crisis". Obviously, transparency in the accounting of past transactions will be at the forefront of any legislative or accounting standards changes. Increasingly, new employees will be able to ask more effective questions about corporate stability that involve a clearer understanding of the balance sheet and its meaning. Recruiters will be at the front lines of this new view of companies and the likelihood that they might fail.

    There really ought to be an institution that serves recruiters as the winds of change rearrange the focus of the message they deliver to prospective employees. We wonder who is going to take the responsibility for helping current professionals explain this new dimension of concern to their prospects. It's not like it's directly related to what was being explained last week. Sooner or later, professional education will have to become a component of the Human Capital Acquisition industry. After all, 67% of all dollars spent by organizations on human resources are devoted to the components of this task. We'll get serious about the need for an institution in later articles.

    The other issue raised by the Enron mess involves the characterization of future transactions. We were struck by an interview with Peter Doyle, the co-founder of the Kinetics Internet fund (the closest thing to a success story in last year's rout of Internet holdings). Doyle said:

    Valuations for these companies are based on pro forma numbers that are pure science fiction. And unfortunately, it's undermining the whole capital markets, and it's having impacts on the risk premiums, which are going up for all companies, even those that are doing things legitimately and are trying to do things conservatively in their accounting.
    From The Street

    He was talking about the fact that out-year forecasts, which are widely used as a means of valuing a particular company, are often based on little more than science fiction. No checks are made to validate the possibility of the market or the company's ability to field a workforce large enough to handle the workload associated with the growth.

    Any more, it is frighteningly possible to determine exactly how many of which type of professional are going to be able within commuting distance of a particular plant. Although it may be a royal PITA, it is also now possible to precisely forecast the demand for those professionals (with little more than SEC filings). That means that it is not only possible but increasingly likely that a measure of a company's success likelihood will be a part of our universe. The risk associated with acquiring a sufficient workforce is a measurable number that will become a part of accounting audits. Recruiting tactics that include the development of real talent pools and other outreach will be the obvious risk mitigators.

    If you do not have enough people and a clear method for acquiring the additional bodies you need, your financial forecasts are bogus.

    - John Sumser

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