The Magic Bullet Is Coming…Not

waiting man sit
waiting. flickr: milena mihaylova’s latest post touches on “The Godot Effect,” aka the “Dr. Staff” problem, or what we might call “computer jesus.”

Some years ago [writes consultant Stephen Balzac] I was sitting in a product design meeting. The discussion kept circling around some particularly knotty issues that no one in the room actually knew much about.

In one sense, this wasn’t a serious problem given that the company was still actively hiring and there was a recognition that more people were needed. Someone finally commented that we’d have to make sure to hire someone with the particular expertise in question, and in one fell swoop, that task was assigned to a non-existent person. Again, this is not necessarily a problem … yet. It became a problem, however, as the meeting progressed:

“We don’t have anyone on the team who can handle […technology…] either.”

“That’ll be the next hire.”

“Wasn’t the next hire supposed to be […original problem…]?”

“We’ll need someone who can do both.”

And so it went, he says, with every problem the company needed to solve assigned to the mysterious “next hire.” “Those who have ever read a college catalog might have noticed the vast number of courses in a wide range of subjects taught by Staff. Well, by the end of that meeting, Dr. Staff was probably the only person who could have handled the job.”

This is what creates job postings like this one—as ludicrous as this sounds, somebody was thinking “Okay we only have the budget for one hire, and we need both A and B, so…”

Hiring #fail!