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CAREER

Size Matters

There are some rules for résumés that will never go out of style - never lie, for example, and always proofread carefully. Others, however, can be the result of passing trends.

Take the "two page maximum" rule. John Davis, president of John J Davis & Associates (www.johnjdavisandassoc.com), a New York City-based executive search company focused on IT management, argues that candidates for senior-level IT positions should provide recruiters with as much information as possible, however many pages that takes. "An IT résumé can't be too long. The more detail we're given, the better we can get to know the candidate and evaluate her against the client's job requirements."

This viewpoint may not sit too well with busy corporate human resources departments, which are often trying to fill multiple positions in multiple departments and don't have time to peruse a detailed, five-page IT résumé. The solution? Davis says he sees many candidates create two versions of their résumé - one that's short and concise, for use when contacting the HR department directly, and another one that's longer and more detailed for their favourite head-hunters.

QUOTED

"Dotcom start-ups that don't figure out how to make money without the Internet are never going to figure out how to make money with the Internet." - Jerry Gregoire, former CIO Dell Computer and PepsiNEW TECHNOLOGY A-Walkin' and A-Talkin' If you're not exercising regularly, you may want to consult your doctor before using your cell phone. Sound strange? Inventor Trevor Baylis doesn't think so. He's the brain behind some electric shoes that allow you to power batteries while you walk.

Earlier this year Baylis, along with England's Texon International (www.texon.com), a footwear components manufacturer, established The Electric Shoe Company, based in Leicester, England, to develop the technology. Baylis successfully tested the shoes last June in a 100-mile trek across the Namibian Desert. Using a generator located in the heel, the shoes convert the mechanical energy produced by walking into an electrical current. A leisurely walk, for example, can generate enough to keep a Sony Walkman powered during your stroll. To have a decent cell phone conversation, you'd have to walk at a rate of about 2.4 kilometres an hour.

Possible future applications for the electric shoes include powering laptops and use in developing countries where landline infrastructure is unavailable.

The company is still working out a few practical matters - currently, to transmit electricity from your foot to power-hungry devices, you would have to run wires from the back of your shoes, up the inside pants seam to the pocket, with a pull-release connector at the back of the shoes. Eventually, the company hopes to streamline the system by incorporating wireless technology instead. The shoes are expected to become commercially available in early 2002. That should leave plenty of time to get in shape.

BIOTECH

Up with Technology!

FLACCID FOLIAGE? Limp lilies?

Science may have found the answer to your horticultural horrors. Local researchers at the University of Newcastle and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have discovered that Viagra, the anti-impotence drug that has men standing up and cheering, also puts the perk back into droopy cut flowers and extends the shelf-life of packaged flowers, fruits and vegetables. When researchers added the little blue pill to water, it kept cut flowers alive for up to seven days beyond their normal life span. Now - purely scientific curiosity here - what happens when you eat those fruits and vegetables? Let us know if you find out . . .

CONSULTING

Keeping Up with Yourself

Dell Computer recently announced that it will begin offering its much-celebrated electronic commerce know-how as a consulting service (through its new consulting partners Arthur Andersen and Gen3 Partners), an original move for a PC manufacturer. But ironically, behind its slick, automated Web site, paper still rules at Dell - and probably most anywhere else you look. Dell staffers often take orders that come into the Web site, print them out and retype the information into the company's order fulfilment systems. At a recent conference, Dave Allen, Dell's vice president of worldwide operations, said just 10 per cent of Dell's orders are "frictionless", meaning that they go from the Web site to fulfilment electronically. (When contacted for verification, a Dell representative in the US said the rate is actually higher, adding that "for competitive reasons, we don't discuss details of our Internet sales, beyond that they exceed $US40 million per day and account for nearly 50 per cent of our total revenue.") Some of the friction comes from differing data standards and customised systems across Dell's worldwide operations. But most troublesome are Dell's own fulfilment and manufacturing processes, which change so quickly because of the company's rapid growth that keeping pace is difficult, Allen says. - Christopher KochBy the Numbers Using Metrics Effectively Compiled by Susannah Patton If you are using metrics to measure the effectiveness of any system or application, it's important to make sure they give you relevant information. The American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) recently concluded a study comparing the benchmarking techniques of nine best-practice organisations (partners) with 14 sponsors looking to improve their measurement practices. APQC found that partner companies use a process called the "balanced scorecard", an approach that calls for carefully choosing a limited number of metrics directly tied to a company's strategy. Selected results that follow show that best practice companies involve more employees in choosing what to measure, and they make sure everyone has a stake in positive results.

Best Practices

1. Keep it simple.

Companies should establish a simple structure and limit the number of items measured so that results will be useful to a wide group of employees. "Companies should break away from the idea that they need to measure everything," says Neil Peltier, a member of the APQC study team. "If it's kept simple, it can be much more than a strictly executive tool." For example, Boeing's customer service group uses a system that includes a performance index that ties metrics for employee and customer satisfaction to financial performance. It uses charts with simple colours - red, yellow and green - to rank results.

2. Open up the process.

When deciding what to measure, invite a wide variety of employees to participate. APQC found that best practice companies were more likely than other organisations to include a cross-functional team when designing a measurement scorecard. GTE HR's metrics team includes a director plus three employees who have been dedicated to the team since the beginning of the balanced scorecard initiative.

3. Reward everyone for good results.

Although some best practice companies don't tie bonuses or compensation to performance measurement, those that do strive to include employees as well as executives. "The person working the shop floor has had to make changes, so he should reap the benefits as well," says Peltier.

4. Create an auditing process.

An outside auditor can go a long way toward protecting the integrity of metrics data. "You can make numbers say anything you want if you try long enough," Peltier says. Caterpillar, for example, brought in PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit its data and processes, Peltier added.

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More about AndersenAndersenArthur AndersenBoeing AustraliaCaterpillar of AustraliaDell ComputerGen3 PartnersGTEJohn J DavisPricewaterhouseCoopersPricewaterhouseCoopersSonyUniversity of NewcastleUniversity of Newcastle

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