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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't take my word for it - run the numbers yourself

Is your company full of the best and the brightest? Are you sure?

At some point in the past, I was introduced to the Drake equation. It probably happened as a result of watching Contact. In any case, it basically involves multiplying little fractions against each other. Even though you're slicing it up so much, you might still get results which are worth the time to investigate.

I thought of this when considering some other math-related items.

Let's say there are 7 billion people on the planet. Some fraction of them are working age. Some fraction of them speak the language used for business in your company (let's say English). Then you have to take into account that only some part of that group will legally be able to work for you -- citizenship, visas, and the like.

So now let's make it messy. What percentage of that group is any good with computers? Of those people, who actually wants to work with them all day long? And of those people, who wants to work in your company's environment while they do it?

Now I'm going to throw the final monkey wrench at you. Let's say your company prides itself on being full of geniuses. For the sake of argument, call that a 160 IQ, even though everyone has their own cut-off point for such things.

If the probability of someone like that existing is 1 in 31,574 and there are 7 billion people right now, then there are about 221,701 people on the planet who fit into that bucket. This is before you apply all of the other filtering described above.

Now then, how big is your company? Do enough people exist on the planet to back up the claims?

Also, if you claim to go on a "big hiring spree", doesn't that actually mechanically translate into "lowering the bar"? Where else are these people coming from?

It's not like a Dr. Seuss book where you pop someone into a machine and it stamps a star on them. You have to deal with the population as it is. There's no way around it.

It might be time to adjust that PR campaign.