Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review - The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course In Finance for Non-Financial Managers, by Robert Cooke

This book is perfect if you are not an accountant and one of the following things are true.

-You need to read financial reports
-You interact with executives
-Deal with CFOs or Controllers
-Prepare budgets
-Invest in companies

As a technology consultant, I’m often asked to help with difficult business problems, and more often than not, those issues deal with accounting principles. I’ve tried reading Accounting 101 books, but I don’t need to know how to keep a "T" account. I needed a summary book for Accounting 400, and this book fit the bill.

There is also an online test that will grant you a certificate of completion. I didn't do that, but you might like to.

Here's the Amazon link:

The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course In Finance for Non-Financial Managers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review, Hiring Smart by Pierre Mornell

Before reading this book, I thought my philosophy of hiring fast and firing fast was a sound management principle. I was wrong. After reading the horror stories in this book, I am recommitted to interviewing thoroughly, completely a full background check, checking all references, and then proceeding cautiously. I still believe that we should terminate employees very soon after discovering that they weren’t who we thought they were.

I also have a habit of being captivated and intrigued by everyone I meet. I need time to let that fade away. I need reality to set in before making an objective hiring decision.

This book is filled with 45 great tips on hiring good people, but all of them don't need to be applied all at once. In fact, I think that would be impossible. Instead, I intend to continuously evolve the hiring process by selectively applying these tips. I’ll just keep experimenting until the perfect team is assembled.

I liked the idea of putting prospects on projects immediately. For instance, I could show a prospect a user interface design and tell them to improve it. I could show them a database and ask them to write a query.

Mornell mentions that we should walk the prospect to his or her car. He says you can tell a lot about a person by how they organize their car. Mornell is a psychiatrist, and brings a unique insight to the hiring process.

Mornell mentions a 49er's Football scout that would not recommend a player until he observed 200 plays of the player. He did this so he could feel comfortable with how they react in different situations. It's impossible to observer 200 plays when hiring people, but we should watch the person in a variety of situations before making a hiring decision.

This book was very easy to read, had very big type, lots of pretty pictures, and can be completed in about 2 hours.

Software development is increasingly becoming a team sport. This book reinforced my belief that the team needs to be part of the entire hiring process.

Here's the Amazon link:

Hiring Smart