- More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa require food assistance due to the drought. WFP has declared a corporate emergency, elevating the crisis to the highest level of action. Read more
- The United Nations says that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Across the country, nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7 million people – are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south. Read news release
- WFP is reaching 1.5 million people in Somalia now, and is scaling up to reach anadditional 2.2 million people in the previously inaccessible south of the country.Read more
- A WFP-chartered aircraft carrying 10 metric tons of specialised food to combat malnutrition in children has departed Nairobi for Mogadishu. The food will be distributed through health centres and by WFP partners in the Somali capital as part of a scaled up feeding programme for families fleeing the severe drought.
- WFP plans to deliver 100 metric tons in a series of flights to Mogadishu, enough to give35,000 malnourished children the life-saving treatment they need for a month.
- WFP is very concerned about the incorrect and damaging perception generated by inaccurate television reports regarding food stocks in Mogadishu warehouses allegedly not being distributed. Read more
- Malnutrition rates are very high among refugees from Somalia - especially children - who have been crossing the borders of Kenya and Ethiopia in large numbers.
- As the number of hungry people rises, there is a greater need for fortified, supplementary food products to combat malnutrition, especially in children
- It costs an average US $0.50 to feed a beneficiary in the Horn of Africa for one day. This is based on the average cost of our operations across Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
Creative business owners frequently minimize the importance of hiring. It’s a “tertiary task” superficially unrelated to client work, and often triggered under duress: a huge new client project to ramp up for, the opening of a new office, or the exodus of a few great employees. For this reason, hiring often takes on a stressful tone and is executed hastily. Yet no decision can have a bigger impact on the direction of your work and the long-term success of your business.
Hiring exceptional people allows a leader to set strategic direction and then hand over incremental decisions to smart, capable team members. In Linchpin, Seth Godin uses the example of the fast and complex Japanese transit system, which operates on-schedule and on-budget, not by top-down directive, but by a large pool of empowered employees making the best decisions in the moment. “Letting people in the organization use their judgment turns out to be faster and cheaper - but only if you hire the right people and reward them for having the right attitude.”
The trick is uncovering those talented and trustworthy people - and knowing what they look like when you find them. Here are a handful of tips:
1. You cannot clone yourself. One of the first obstacles in expanding a creative operation is rewiring your brain. Subconsciously or not, you may be fixated on looking for someone with the skills, mannerisms, single-minded passion, and other useful qualities that mimic your own. Instead, look for a cocktail of complementary skills to balance your weaknesses. Seek a foundation of rudiments and a likeable and hard-working personality. There is no one who loves your work more than you.
2. Persistence is golden. There’s a rule of thumb called The Rule of 100. Assume you’ll need to make contact with 100 people in order to find 10 prospects to narrow to a pool of 3 great matches. Sometimes this is an overestimation, but the point is that finding the right person is usually a matter of persistence. Don’t stop looking if you’re having trouble finding the right fit, just keep looking.
3. The best resource is your personal network. Hands down the best source for locating a person that fits you and your company is your circle of contacts. It’s your job to communicate effectively to your network by being clear about what you’re looking for and the context of the hire. It helps to be specific when approaching your network to give them information that’s easy to act on.
4. But… don’t forget to look beyond your network. It is a common strategy (and a common mistake) to stick to your personal network to find quality people. Go beyond your circle of contacts. Make a list of people and companies you respect or admire and reach out to them for assistance. Always ask who you should speak to next to continue to expand your network concentrically outward.
5. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior... but it’s not always obvious. Often a person’s interests are found in the seams of their resume or professional trajectory. Find out about hobbies, art projects or groups they started outside of work. This type of initiative will provide insight into how well a person works independently and if they’re prone to turning ideas action.
6. Use “critical incident interviewing.” This is an interview model that queries specific past events as a basis for discerning a person’s capabilities. It’s all about cascading questions. Start by asking about an incident, then peeling back the layers to evaluate the person’s thought process, judgment, and how he or she deals with a situation.
7. Assign homework. After a series of interviews, it is common practice for companies to assign a phantom project or problem to solve. Some even hand off a client assignment and compensate potential employees for their work. There’s no better way to predict performance than by having the opportunity to evaluate the work directly and get a feel for a prospect’s style and habits.
8. Do great work and make great stuff... so the best people find you. It’s no surprise that the best companies always have the easiest time hiring. That’s because people are clamoring to work for them. Strive to do mind-bendingly great work and the hiring will take care of itself!
What’s Your Experience?
How do identify great hires? What do you struggle with?
--Scott McDowell works with business leaders and creative teams to ease collaboration. He's also a DJ at WFMU. Follow Scott @mcd_owell. --
For more tips on managing your business in the day-to-day, check out 99%'s “Daily Action” series, presented by BlackBerry. To join the conversation and share your insights, visit bizblog.blackberry.com.
In the olden days, the ability to collect, organize, and analyze massive amounts of data was largely the province of scientists working in academia, government, or private industries like pharma or biotech. Not so in the 21st century. Data collection and analysis is now a key competitive advantage for online companies from social networks to consumer shopping sites. It’s not just NASA that has a “Chief Scientist” anymore – LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Amazon have them, too.When it comes to running an online business (be it a blog, a network, or a store), data analysis has become an incredibly powerful tool and a bit of an obsession. But what are the best practices for collecting and managing data? How can we use data to really empower our businesses and our customers?
To answer these questions, we recently connected with LinkedIn’s DJ Patil. As the company’s Chief Scientist, a position that he created in 2008, Patil has been instrumental in transforming massive amounts of data into creative products like “People You May Know” and LinkedIn’s new “InMaps,” which allows you to create a visual graph of your entire professional network. (Patil’s own map is pictured above.)
Here’s 6 best practices for harnessing data and making it actionable, illustrated with excerpts from our interview with Patil:
1. Iterate quickly.
“We build all of our systems with the intention of being able to iterate very fast, so we’re able to modify and change them very quickly. Having that ability to iterate quickly is essential, because we never really know which aspect of a product is going to be the winner.”
“With our ‘Groups You Might Like’ module, the original product was built in less than a week. And we iterated on it very, very quickly; we tried a number of things to see what really worked. Then we were able to build out much bigger technology once we knew what was really winning – the aspects that people really liked – and translate it into a much more powerful product.”
2. Test, test, test.
“Sometimes we test internally, and let our employees try things out. We also do user testing, where we invite people into the company to test things. Once people have tried a new product out and we’ve taken their feedback, then we might roll it out in different versions to different people to see what they like, based on their usage. Then, once we find what’s good in there, we tend to roll it out on even bigger and bigger levels. Maybe we roll it out to 1% or 5% or 10% of our user base.”
“It’s essential that we’re always testing the product in different ways. And that’s not just with my team, that’s a cultural paradigm for all of LinkedIn. We really pride ourselves on a relentless pursuit of making sure we’re providing increasing value for the user.”
3. Use cheap solutions.
“There’s so much great technology that’s open source. You don’t need to pay 10 million dollars for these very sophisticated data systems anymore. You can start and try things on the cheap until you know that you’ve got a winner.”
4. Track your numbers very, very closely.
“You’ve got to be absolutely rigorous in how you track and how you monitor and are able to actually take that data and understand what the value is.”
“I think we’re seeing a unique time where there’s a lot of technology that we can apply to the data problem. At LinkedIn, we’re really focused on high-quality data. You can do tremendous things to make the product more useful when you have high-quality data.”
5. Empower your employees.
“We have a notion called: Leadership, Leverage, and Results. Leadership is the ability to inspire people and get them to drive towards a common, shared vision. Leverage is being able to really do something with a modicum of resources – so we don’t need to hire an outside company to work on new ideas that we have. Results is getting it done, moving the needle.”
“Then we empower our employees to do these things, believing that they are the best-suited people to drive the mission of the company forward. Everything from our lab sites, to internal rollouts, to product testing – there are lots and lots of ways to make those things real.”
6. Emphasize creative experiments.
“One of the things we have once a month is InDay. It’s on a Friday and there are no meetings allowed; it’s a day where you get to do whatever you want. We bring speakers in, people arrange classes, but you can also just decide that you want to work on a project and you plan it out. And you may get 3 or 4 people that say, ‘That’s a really cool idea; I want to help you with that.’” “So you get a bunch of guys, and you take a chance on it. And maybe it takes a couple of InDays to get it over the line. That’s how a lot of our innovation happens. A lot of great stuff is created by having time and flexibility to foster the creativity, come together to find solutions, and to make them real.”