Friday, 23 May 2008

Newsletter Issue 149, May 2008

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 149, May 2008
Hi guys,
We continue Anita Attridge's article on organisational culture in That’s How We Do Things Around Here, Part 3 below.
Fuel may be increasing at the pumps, but Sports Utility Vehicle Sales are still on the Rise
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

That’s How We Do Things Around Here, Part 3

In the third part of Anita Attridge's article on organisational culture, we look at at networking, personal observation and interview questions about culture.
Network, Network, Network: The Critical Next Step
After gaining an initial understanding of the company, getting in front of people is one of the best ways to learn about what really goes on there. So, who can you network with to learn about the companies you’re interested in? If you’ve never done this before, you might be surprised at how many resources you actually have:
  • Make a list all of the people you know and the companies they work for. This list should include friends, relatives, present and former colleagues, neighbors—even the people you run into when you’re at the gym or out walking the dog. There might be dozens of people you don’t realize you have fairly easy access to.
  • Also list the professional, community and religious organizations to which you belong. There are all those people you know from church, synagogue, PTA, Little League, etc. Professional associations have lists of members and their workplaces. These lists are invaluable tools for identifying people to call. Even if you don’t know the people, you can contact them and tell them that you’re a member of the organization and would like to have an informational meeting. Members like to help other members.
  • Scour your alumni directories. Fellow alums are excellent for networking.
Use all of these networking resources! The more people you talk with the more you’ll learn, and since you’re asking for information—not a job—people are likely to be cooperative and generous.
Personal Observation: You Can Be an Eyewitness
At The Five O’Clock Club we have always recommended arriving early for interviews. This gives you the chance to see and hear what’s going on in the workplace. You can ask for water, and may be directed to the water cooler or to the employee kitchen. You can observe:
  • How people are interacting with each other.
  • How they’re dressed.
  • The energy level and activity.
  • Items on display in the company reception area. What company symbols are visible and how are they used?
  • How the physical space is designed. Are there offices and cubicles of varying size? Are there cubicles in a large bullpen area, or are offices accessible by corridor?
  • The awards, certificates of recognition and employee photos on display. These offer clues to the company values.
As well as observing, you can also ask questions. If you meet someone at the water cooler, you can say, “There’s so much hustle and bustle here [or: This place seems so calm], what’s it like to work here?” Of course, you’re trying to get a feel for the company culture. You may be surprised at the answers. (See our book Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game by Kate Wendleton.)

Ask Questions about Company Culture During the Interview
Based on your research and networking, you should have questions that relate to the culture. Having done the Working Style Preferences exercise, you have a better grasp of the kind of environment you’ll do well in, and you can probe as to how the work gets done. It might be too confrontational to ask, “Is it appropriate to question current practices in the organization or is it best to just follow the practices in place?” Nor would you want to say, “According to what I’ve been reading on the blogs, your CEO is a real tyrant.” But you can ask, “What’s the tone here? Is it okay to make suggestions about improving procedures? What’s the company culture like?”
Case Study: Doris: “If Only I Had Asked”
Doris, a marketing researcher, interviewed for a position at a research consulting firm. She met with her perspective boss, the president and several colleagues. The projects sounded interesting and challenging, so Doris was delighted to receive an offer. In her previous jobs she had enjoyed collaborating with colleagues, and she looked forward to doing the same in her new role.
On her first major project, she did extensive research, summarized her findings and asked a colleague—who was working on a similar project—if he would like to compare notes. He told her that wouldn’t be necessary because everyone worked alone for the most part, and had the freedom to present projects to management and customers without consulting others. Research was the key, not collegiality. Doris soon found that everyone liked to work alone; no one was interested in collaborating or even sharing information. In fact, they considered collaboration a waste of time.
Doris realized that this culture was different from those she had worked in before. Collaboration was important to her and she assumed that most organizations operated on this basis. It had not even occurred to her to ask—during the interview—about how people accomplished their projects. Now she would have to adjust to a lonely way of working, or move on.
In the next newsletter, in part four of Anita's article, we look at at adjusting to culture and observing culture from within..

SUV Sales still on the Rise

Some people are too are too addicted to living lives with a large footprint, especially if sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are anything to go by:
  • In 2007, US sales of small SUVs totalled 301,625 year-to-date through November, an increase of 22.7% vs the year-ago period, according to AutoData
  • BMW saw its 2007 profits up by 9%, in part because of higher sales of its popular X5 SUV
  • In 2007, 341,798 SUVs were sold in China, up 49.1 percent compared to the 229,182 SUVs sold in 2006. And in the first two months of 2008, sales of SUVs in China were up 38 percent, while sales of luxury cars climbed 30 percent compared with the corresponding period a year ago
  • In Australia, sales of new SUVs jumped 4.6% in October 2007 compared to September 2007
  • And in New Zealand, SUVs accounted for a record 23.7% of passenger car sales in 2007, up from 20.5% in 2006, and just 17.2% back in 2004.
Perhaps higher fuel prices may influence the prosperous eco-unwilling, but these figures certainly don't reflect that happening yet. Maybe once we are up to $2.50 a litre?!

You Can Query Windows Secrets Back Issues

For those of you who have been thankful from the bottom of your heart for the expertise at Woody's Office Watch, the LangaList, Brians Buzz or Windows Secrets, those amalgamated organisations have just set up a search tool on their website at
You can either query their content or all Windows sites. They have added the ability for you to search every individual article that's ever appeared in the Windows Secrets Newsletter, the LangaList Newsletter and Brian's Buzz on Windows). They plan to add Woody's Office Watch back issues to 1998 in the coming weeks.
You use Google  instead of Windows Secrets, but the advantage of using Windows Secrets is that their front-end makes Google only crawl through sites focusing exclusively on Microsoft Window information. So instead of seeing row after row of sites that sell Windows, you'll get results from sites that have great information about Windows.
Nifty, eh?!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • VMFS, Virtual Machine File System. A cluster file system, developed and is used to store virtual machine disk images, including photos. Multiple servers can read/write the same file-system simultaneously, while locking individual virtual machine files. VMFS volumes can be "grown" by spanning multiple VMFS volumes together.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do with Alt and letters. This time it's I (there are no Gs or Hs):
  • PowerPoint "Switch to the Index tab" Alt & I
  • Access "Switch to Index tab while working in Help menu" Alt & I
  • Word "Switch to Index tab while working in Help menu" Alt & I
  • Word "Switch to Print Preview; use when working" Alt & Ctrl & I
  • Outlook "In the Save As dialog box to select the Folder List; arrow keys to select a folder" Alt & I, Arrow Keys
  • Word "Display the Mark Citations dialog box" Alt & Shift & I

Hot Linx
If there is ANYTHING that you need a how to video on, the place to search for it is They claim to have every 'how to' video ever made... give them a try!
To download programmes (TV, that is!) off the internet, the bit torrent software takes a wonderful approach; finding the files and snitching a bit from hundreds or millions of other users that pours into your PC and is bionically reassembled from
And still on the TV mode, get your news live & streaming at Who needs a TV really - when you can watch your favourite news items just when you want them :-)
Another up & coming thing is software as a service. Where you no longer buy your software, but rent a spot in a 'multi-tenancy building'. Check out

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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