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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(August 15, 2003) -  No one really understands the mechanics of the job board market. Like the old Sufi tale about the blindmen and the elephant, everyone has a piece of the thing. Each thinks their perspective is complete. They all miss key elements.

Competition is like that. The very best teams compete with themselves, keeping an eye on those who are close by. Without a refresher from time to time, it's easy to begin to imagine that the only external competition is what you see every day. Paranoia is useful to the extent that it keeps the normal blinders from growing in the spots that make you vulnerable.

Analysts (including us) are like that as well. You see what you can see and occasionally misinterpret that as a comprehensive view of the universe. It takes immense discipline to continue to keep perspective refreshed and open. It's downright awful to know how much you don't know as a routine way of looking at things.

In the end, the minimum requirement is a frame of reference that enables you to meet your goals. People and organizations always behave in the ways that they believe will help them reach their goals. Always. Always. Always. Understand their goals and you can predict their behavior.

It's a little trickier than that, of course. People are not equally good at the public articulation of goals. From time to time, you have to impute goals from behavior, maybe even most of the time, particularly with competitors. Nonetheless, you can rely on the fact that behavior is simply a manifestation of the underlying goals.

Watch what they do more closely than you watch what they say.

Even when goal achievement is frustrated or impossible, people and organizations will continue to work towards their goals until they figure out how to change them.  It's surprising how persistent ineffective behavior can be. Once internalized, goals are very, very sturdy.

Changing goals is no small matter. They are typically entwined with the very identity of the person or organization. Meaty goals, coupled with great quantities of commitment, are generally the foundation of great accomplishment. Misplaced, misunderstood or misaligned goals are usually the source of frustration and immobility. Meaningfully changing goals, particularly when they are a source of ineffectiveness, takes great amounts of discipline and openness.

Sustained open-ness, while typically prescribed by OD professionals, is a recipe for disaster. Focus is the name of the game, in general. Periodically, however, each organization and person needs an intensely introspective examination that questions the relationship between personal or organizational effectiveness and the underlying goals.

We'll try to bring that sort of freshness to our examination of the Human Capital Acquisition Market over the next couple of weeks. Things are changing, we think.

John Sumser

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