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    • Fascinating, Ned. I've always wondered how it worked at places like the Forest Service. I've actually been curious about that for awhile because it seems whenever I meet a park ranger they seem great. I don't remember meeting one who wasn't friendly and helpful and I wondered how that was possible with the way they hire a fire. Maybe just my sample size?

      Back in the day I worked for Steve Jobs at NeXT, which Apple bought, and our software NeXTstep became Apple's OS X and iOS. Steve was fond of saying all his life, "A players hire A players, but B players hire C players." And he said the As get frustrated and leave when there are too many Bs and Cs.

    • In fairness, many of the people I dismiss as dead wood standing are nice, and are able to interact with the public reasonably well, but when it comes to actually contributing to innovative management, not so much. We see so many more people in the woods making recreational demands, and we also have species under strain and higher timber extraction targets and etc... it takes a bit of creativity to make all this work together, and that can be in short supply.

      Also, just to make a distinction that many people don't understand, the Forest Service is part of the USDA. A Ranger in the FS is the line officer responsible for acreage, sort of the captain of a single ship in an armada. One fascinating thing: signatory responsibility for acreage lies at the District Ranger (a GS-12 or 13 position that is always local). The Forest Supervisor can instruct (admiral in my fleet analogy), the Region can instruct (fleet command), but the ultimate authority lies locally. That doesn't come into play much, but it does change the dynamic. Parks (and Monuments) are part of DOI, as is the BLM. A ranger in Interior tends to be much more outward facing.

      As far as I can tell, the Government takes a perverse pleasure in making things difficult to understand with different names for the same role and jargon for every aspect of process, and then asking for public input which they will disregard if the details of the comment aren't perfect. Where's the beating head into the wall smiley? :-)

    • Fascinating! I can't get enough of understanding what makes organizations tick and I've always wondered about them.

      I used to work with a guy who was making a transition from 20 years as a park ranger to working in tech as a product manager in a Steve Jobs company. He was so charismatic and smart, but the aggressive, high-paced life really ate him up.

      To be fair, it ate up people who were used to mild cultures like HP was famous for too. I'm told by my friends at Facebook, the #1 rated best place to work in America by some rating agency I don't know, that Google employees really struggle when they get there.

    • There has to be employment for the average joe. Police / fire / ranger / all attract a certain type who aren't intent on changing the world, just doing the job each day, dealing with whatever arises, rinse and repeat.

      There's a world of difference between public employment and the high intensity private sector where you are judged on performance and paid, or fired, accordingly.

      The "job for life" suits a certain type of person who is content to work at a certain pace. There are ambitious people in the public services, who go for promotion, better themselves by getting degrees, but the majority are journeymen / women who are content to do each day for a set wage with the security of employment that is offered.

      I don't know if I could have worked in the private sector in the US. Being constantly under pressure to perform and to excell.... I think I would have burnt out.

      There was a good article in the NY Times about working conditions in Amazon


      I wouldn't last 10 minutes in that workplace.

      Quote from above article:

      "Bo Olson was one of them. He lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

    • Interesting thread. When I started at SGI, we were in orientation where we were told “you are the best and brightest”. Which follows As hire As. But not everyone is an A at some point.

      SGI was where I was introduced to HPs rating and ranking system. HR had their list of titles which meant you might have two people with the same title doing different jobs and were ranked and rated as if they were the same. I have never been in such a politically charged meeting as a ranking and rating session. It’s why good people get left by the wayside or leave-it is the reason penguins harp “wasn’t strong enough to survive” in order to justify their decisions.

      In a couple of startups I’ve been at since then, G&Os were important and reset from time to time. At review time, your performance was measured against you. Much better in my mind.

      Regarding whether I’d fight to keep someone. Idk. By the time someone resigns, it’s too late. It’s better that you keep your ears and eyes open and respond before it gets to the point of begging and pleading. At the least, see what you learn about the whys. Fix what you can and move on.

      The biggest thing I’ve taken away is that a team that enjoys success may not necessarily succeed again. There are intangible things like timing, outside influences, and other things that contribute to great teams and those aren’t always easy to put a finger on.

      Back to As. You need a balance of all three. And it’s best when people recognize and embrace their roles as opposed to figuring out how to sabotage others.

    • One of the big issues that I have witnessed and struggled with is how keeping the wrong people on punishes the right ones.

      I shared the below thoughts recently with an amazing teacher whose co-worker was destroying the organization environment: