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UPCOMING
Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

PAST BUT NO REPLAY AVAILABLE
Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter XII

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI Chapter VII, Chapter VIII, Chapter IX, Chapter X and Chapter XI in case you missed them.]

On one thing they all agreed.  Much more deciphering was needed to paint a more complete picture of what Mr. Cummins had been doing, for how long he had been doing it, with what impact on the organization, and with what, if any, co-conspirators.  In addition to the deciphering of current files found on Cummins’ desk and the current chart on his office’s white board, much deeper data digging and analysis would be needed to review every candidate who had passed through Cummins’ “hands,” their evaluation process and hired or not hired story, and so much more.  And, although records over the past year were automated, digging into earlier records would involve a lot of manual work on files which were stored — as you’d expect — in a records management facility.

DCI Fritz suggested that since the murder had just happened, it was far more likely that it was related to current or recent activities rather than to something which had occurred (or should have but had not occurred) more than a year ago.  He also realized that taking Zelda away from her pressing responsibilities on the stealth project were already causing challenges for that project, challenges which would become much worse if she wasn’t able to address them.  Therefore, he asked if an analyst could be assigned to work under Ms. Kahneifmeyer’s direction to continue the deciphering and compare what they had learned to the automated records for the current activities.

With information from these files and some interviewing guidance from Ms. Patel or someone on her team, Fritz further suggested that his team could interview every one of the candidates on which they had color-coded, tick-marked, manual records to fill in the demographics and obtain any insight they could as to the hiring process and results.  Of course, doing that outreach was going to raise a certain amount of scuttlebutt about what was going on at Great Software, about the murder itself and what connections it might have to the company, so discretion and a suitable “cover story” were needed.

Since it would also be necessary to interview all of the hiring managers who appeared, subject to further deciphering of Cummins’ tick marks, to be either (at least) comfortable or not comfortable with the demographic filtering that Cummins appeared to be doing, Ms. Patel suggested that she was in the best position to speak with each of these hiring managers without raising any unnecessary or distracting fuss.  That said, it was going to awkward as hell to determine how best to approach a potentially complicit hiring manager, who might in fact be the murderer, and ask questions which might reveal something useful without appearing to accuse them of anything related to the murder.

Knowing that there was no way to keep a lid on the situation, Mr. Wrigley suggested that he and DCI Fritz hold a joint news conference, announcing that there had been a suspicious death and that an investigation was underway which would involve not only interviewing colleagues of the deceased but also members of the community with whom the deceased had had recent contact in the course of his duties.  That would handle both internal and external interviews but not alert unduly the potential culprit(s) to their suspicions of murder by someone connected to whatever scheme or because of whatever scheme Cummins had been running.

Stay Tuned For Chapter XIII

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter XI

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI Chapter VII, Chapter VIII, Chapter IX and Chapter X in case you missed them.]

Fearful that Ms. Patel had fainted, Zelda stopped mid-way in her explanation of what she had found and moved quickly to Ms. Patel’s side while DCI Fritz asked one of his officers to bring some water and a cool wet cloth.  Mr. Wrigley was strangely silent while the others fussed over Ms. Patel, but in a few minutes her color improved and she asked that Zelda go on with her findings-to-date.

When Zelda had finished, Mr. Wrigley’s sputtering began, slowly and softly at first but then rising to a crescendo of alarm.  “How could this have been going on right under our very noses?  What about will be the legal and financial fall-out of violating our regulatory and contractual commitments for having fair and open recruiting practices?  What will be the damage to our employment brand, short and long term, among our increasingly liberal talent pool of new PhDs.   The publicity will kill us if this ever gets out.  What could Cummins have been thinking?  With whom, if anyone, was he collaborating?  And why was he or were they doing this.”  As before, Mr. Wrigley’s voice got louder, his speech faster, and he really did seem in danger of some kind of fit.  Fortunately, DCI Fritz now had an officer standing by with glasses of water and cool clothes, but Zelda thought to herself that something stronger would be needed before they sorted out this case.

By now her usual self, but as before, Ms. Patel spoke more quietly and thoughtfully.  She too realized the huge, negative implications of Zelda’s research on many aspects of the business, and she had many more questions.  “How long had this been going on?  How many hiring decisions have been made within this biased and, potentially, illegal decision-making framework?  Have any of the hiring managers been aware of this?  Been complicit?  And what about those who had been hired via Ms. Cummins’ discriminatory system?  Did they have any idea what was going on?  Clearly Ms. Kahneifmeyer didn’t know, but then her project was fairly new, and most of her hires-to-date have been transfers from other parts of the organization.”

So many questions, and very little time in which to track down the answers and determine if they would lead to Mr. Cummins’ killer.  Unspoken was the concern that, where one murder had occurred, others might follow.

Stay tuned for Chapter XII

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter X

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI Chapter VII, Chapter VIII and Chapter IX in case you missed them.]

Mr. Wrigley was the first to speak after the word murder had hung in the air for a bit, and he was quite agitated.  “But we’re a top security facility, and there’s not a chance that some deranged person from the outside wandered in, weapon in hand, and pushed a knife into Mr. Cummins’ chest,” said Wrigley.  “So are you saying that someone here at Great Software, someone we all know, is the likely murderer of our lead recruiter?  Stabbing in the chest with a beautifully etched oriental-looking curved knife?  Doing this during normal business hours in Cummins’ own office?  Without being seen or at least not seen by anyone who has yet come forward?  With what possible motive?”  By then Mr. Wrigley was sputtering, and he stopped doing so to pull himself together.

Ms. Patel, who had listened to the proceedings in her usual quiet way, taking everything in and thinking carefully about what she had heard, began to speak when Mr. Wrigley stopped for breath.  “If it’s an “inside job,” as the Americans say, and no one has yet come forward, either as a witness or with any useful intelligence, then I think we must search for a motive in order to find the culprit unless we assume that this was a random murder by a homicidal maniac who just happens to work here.”  And then to DCI Fritz she added: “Have your investigations uncovered any possible motive that’s internal to our organization?  Do you have any suspects in mind?”  Then, hesitating just long enough for DCI Fritz to notice, Ms. Patel continued:  “Could there be something about the work he was doing, about how he was doing it, or with whom he was collaborating that bears on the investigation?”

With this wonderful opening, now turning to Ms. Kahneifmeyer, DCI Fritz said:  “Perhaps you’d like to explain our findings-to-date in our deciphering of Cummins’ manual staffing records?”  But before Zelda could respond, Ms. Patel jumped in with:  “Manual staffing records?  Manual staffing records?  What manual staffing records?  We converted all of our staffing processes more than a year ago to wonderful new technology from Intergalactic ATS, and everyone’s staffing records are now completely automated.”

Even as she acknowledged her own surprise at finding these remnants, these artifacts, of their previously more manual staffing processes, and using some of the manila folders and Cummins’ white board chart as props, Zelda began to explain what they had found in his office and what their deciphering efforts had thus far revealed.  When she got to the part about color-coded tick marks on both candidates and at the intersection of candidates and hiring managers, Ms. Patel, already reeling from the apparent murder of one of her top recruiters, slumped in her chair.

Stay Tuned for Chapter XI

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter IX

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI Chapter VII and Chapter VIII in case you missed them.]

As agreed, they all convened in Mr. Wrigley’s office at 7:00 AM, hoping to meet while the building was quiet so as not to attract undue attention.  Because she was best qualified to explain their research into Cummins’ recruiting records, Fritz had told both Mr. Wrigley and Ms. Patel that he had invited Ms. Kahneifmeyer to their meeting.

Before the meeting, DCI Fritz had gotten an update on his team’s work, and there was a lot of progress to report.  He also wanted to report the results of his own meetings with Cummins’ bank, accountant and lawyer before joining Ms. Kahneifmeyer the previous day.  Once everyone was settled, Fritz began his report.

Nothing in Cummins’ finances suggested that he was paying or receiving blackmail nor that he was in anything but reasonable financial shape for a man in his circumstances.  His finances, at least as far as they could tell from the obsessively neat office in his modest home, consisted of his salary from Great Software, some income from savings and investments, and a small annuity that he appeared to have inherited.  Per his banker, there was no obvious pattern of deposits or withdrawals that would suggestion that he was either the perpetrator or victim of blackmail.  So no obvious motivation for suicide there or any indication of a motive if in fact he had been murdered.

Nothing in his legal affairs suggested anything out of the ordinary except that his will left everything he had to a number of charities, at least some of which warranted further investigation.  On the surface, they looked reasonable, but one of his team members seemed to recall a connection between one or two of those named charities and some rather unpleasant, anti-immigration agitators.  Also, per his accountant, Mr. Cummins was in the habit of making small donations annually to a number of charities which appeared to be fronts for various anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi groups, but here too there was no suggestion of coercion or undue influence.

The further results of the autopsy did show that Mr. Cummins was taking garden variety tranquilizers and may have had a bit more in his system than would be recommended, but not so much as to make him either unaware of what he was doing nor an easy victim for a stranger.  The autopsy also showed that the angle of the knife and the damage done by it were not very likely to be the result of a self-inflicted wound.

Summing up their investigations-to-date, DCI Fritz used one of his favorite phrases: “Together with the scene of crime evidence, it’s beginning to look a lot like murder!”

Stay Tuned For Chapter X

Death by Lousy HRM — Chapter VIII

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI and Chapter VII in case you missed them.]

In response to Zelda’s excitement over the phone, DCI Fritz stopped only long enough to pick up some tea and scones in the cafeteria, rightly assuming that Zelda hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for many hours, and he was with her within the hour.  As she showed him what she had discovered before and since she had called him, he quickly saw the implications.

If Zelda were correct, then Cummins was conducting his hiring practices not only outside of the automated systems intended not only for great efficiency and effectiveness but also to ensure compliance with both regulations and company policies.  Clearly Zelda knew nothing about this, but who else might have known or discovered what Cummins was doing?

Was Cummins acting on his own or were there others conspiring to bypass the laws on non-discrimination in employment?  If he were acting on his own, could someone have found out and murdered him to protect the company so that, when the story broke, as such stories always do, his death could be passed off as a suicide whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed with guilt?  Had Zelda’s unexpected arrival after normal business hours prevented the murderer from finishing the stage management needed to persuade the police that this was a suicide?  At this point in their ponderings, they both realized at the same moment that Zelda could well have run into the murderer and herself been killed.

So far, the autopsy findings were inconclusive, and it was just possible that Cummins, in a fit of despair or anxiety over being caught and revealed as a racist, operating on his own as rogue recruiter, had taken his own life in a hari kari sort of way (but hitting his chest instead of his stomach).  It could still have been suicide, albeit a weird one as to method and a complete lack, at least so far, of a suicide note, even if Cummins had not been working alone.

And then suddenly a whole raft of other questions surfaced.  If there were others involved, how far reaching was the conspiracy and whose careers would go up in smoke if they were discovered to have been a knowing co-conspirator?  What Cummins’ was doing was not only illegal but could expose Great Software to very expensive litigation, with potentially large fines, awards, and legal fees, and/or to even more expensive out of court settlements, so were there higher ups who, although perhaps not involved in the original “crime” of institutional discrimination, would see their own careers go up in smoke when this was discovered for their negligence and lack of effective oversight?  They could see several possible motives for murder here, along with a growing list of murder suspects if murder it was.

And even if this were genuinely a suicide out of remorse, with no co-conspirators nor avenging higher-ups, was Cummins’ despair the result of new pressures on him to improve his recruiting performance?  Had someone found out and been threatening exposure as the basis for a little blackmail?  Or had this been going on for long enough that someone had found out and been blackmailing Cummins until the poor man was wiped out, both financially and emotionally?

Stepping back from all of this supposing, and putting aside an entirely personal suicide that had nothing to do with what Zelda had deciphered, DCI Fritz felt is was time to meet with the GM, Algenon Wrigley, and the CHRO, Nikki Patel, together with Ms. Kahneifmeyer.  He wanted to bring them up-to-date and to rattle their cages just a little in case either Wrigley or Patel had a hand in this affair.  Setting the wheels in motion for a meeting early the next morning, DCI Fritz suggested that they call it a day.

Stay Tuned For Chapter IX

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter VII

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V and Chapter VI in case you missed them.]

With her eyes gone dry and her back aching, Zelda knew she needed a break and some time for all the disparate facts and questions to chase each other around her fertile brain until a useful pattern emerged.  Since she was reluctant to go to the cafeteria where gossip about Cummins’ murder was by now swarming, not to mention word of her having found the body, she slipped out quietly, got into her own car which had been left at the office overnight, and drove to the local curry take-away.  Then, while parked at the edge of the village pond and eating her curry, Zelda listened to an episode of East Enders and put her Cummins deciphering problem right out of her mind — or so she thought.

When she got back to the office, she found herself taking each of the candidates whom she had interviewed personally and looking hard at their manila folder tick marks and those on the wall chart.  All three of those candidates had been well-qualified, but in each case Mr. Cummins had either identified HR-related reasons why they would not be an appropriate hire (e.g. that they did not have the requisite certifications or that a background check showed some unexplained gaps between periods of employment) or reported that the candidate had taken themselves out of the running because of another opportunity.  A closer look at those folders showed that all three of those candidates had several tick mark and color combinations in common.   So what was it about them that Cummins wanted to remember, that was the same or similar for all of them, but which couldn’t or shouldn’t become a part of their automated record?

Suddenly, Zelda let out a gasp.  Those three candidates had all been women of color, one of Indian, one of North African, and one of Caribbean descent.  They had all been fairly recent immigrants, either coming to the UK as children with their immigrating parents or arriving for university and staying on.  And they were all women of considerable presence, accomplishment, strong ideas, and the effective presentation of those ideas.  Could it be that the tick marks were Cummins’ way of recording facts about ethnicity, personality, citizenship, gender, etc. which were NOT acceptable as input to hiring decisions and/or hiring offers?

Then looking at all of the hiring managers on the white board chart who had tick marks against these same candidates’ names, she saw that the intersection cell for each of them with her name had some of the same tick marks in either red or mostly green, whereas the color coding of tick marks on the manila folders never used those two colors.  Was it possible that Cummins was recording, by hiring manager, which of these facts about ethnicity, personality, citizenship, gender etc. would be acceptable or not to specific hiring managers?

Knowing that she was on to something, Zelda dialed DCI Fritz’s cell phone and waited impatiently for him to pick up.

Stay Tuned For Chapter VIII

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter VI

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, Chapter IV and Chapter V in case you missed them.]

Zelda did not sleep well that night, but she was up early to notify her boss of what had happened and that DCI Fritz would be in touch to request information about her project and, perhaps others on the campus, which she hadn’t been authorized to provide.  She also notified her team, without giving them any of the details which DCI Fritz had asked her to hold confidential, that she might be unavailable for most of the day due to an urgent matter that needed her personal attention.  By the time DCI Fritz’s team member arrived to drive her back to the office, she was feeling much better after a good night’s sleep, a decent breakfast, and time to collect her thoughts on what had happened.

Back in Cummins’ office, with the body removed and a good bit of rapid cleaning up, Zelda and DCI Fritz sat down with those manila folders and the actual whiteboard in front of them to begin deciphering those color-coded tick marks.  With many years of taxonomy building, database design, and pattern recognition and abstraction under her belt, Zelda saw this “project” in those terms and began immediately to note what was known, e.g. she recognized almost all of the row names on the whiteboard as hiring managers across the organizations which Cummins represented as their recruiter for key positions, and she recognized several of the column names, also found on manila folders, as candidates whom either she or one of her colleagues had interviewed.  Making the leap from there that all the manila folders might represent candidates and that all the rows on the white board might represent hiring managers, she was ready to tackled the color-coded tick marks.

Realizing that Ms. Kahneifmeyer’s deciphering capabilities far exceeded his own, DCI Fritz left her to get on with it.  Meanwhile, he went off to work with his team to digest the scene of crime findings, await and then review the autopsy report, get preliminary findings from the cyber team’s review of Cummins’ electronic devices, from his use of Great Software’s applications through those devices, and his online activity and social exhaust.  He also needed to speak with Cummins’ immediate boss, the CHRO Ms. Nikki Patel, and with the head of Great Software’s campus and UK GM, Algernon Wrigley, to whom both Cummins (ultimately via Ms. Patel) and Kahneifmeyer (directly because of the importance of her project) reported.  Although he had spoken with Ms. Patel immediately after getting word of the death because otherwise entry might have been delayed at the secured premises and again that morning about the events of last night, he wanted to speak with her in greater depth as soon as she returned later that afternoon from a business trip to Paris.  Also, although Cummins wasn’t known to be married or to have any children, Fritz still needed to inform and then interview his next of kin, speak with his banker and his lawyer, and initiate a thorough search of his home.   With a very full day’s work ahead of him, DCI Fritz gave Ms. Kahneifmeyer his cell phone number and asked her to call him if she had any progress to report.

Left to her own devices, Zelda did get on with it.  First, she went through all of the manila folders, looking at the various combinations of color-coded tick marks and creating a list of each different mark and color combination.  Then she did the same for the white board chart.  Some of the marks were used quite liberally, in the same and different colors, both on the board and in the folders.  Others were used very sparingly, with fewer color combinations.  Finally, she found that there were a few marks which only appeared in a single color and which were used quite rarely.  And of course, as she already knew, there were no such annotational marks and color combinations offered as a feature of their quite fully featured staffing automation software.

Was Cummins trying to describe something about individual candidates and/or about the interaction of candidates and hiring managers for which their advanced software provided no capabilities?  Were there important KSAOCs or other points that Cummins wanted to record in a way which only he could interpret?  Hmmm…

Stay Tuned For Chapter VII

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter V

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III and Chapter IV in case you missed them.]

Zelda had remained where DCI had found her when he arrived on the scene.  As he approached her for his preliminary interview, she appeared to have dozed off (it was nearly 9:00 PM), but in fact she was in the early stages of shock.  She’d drunk the sugary tea which was the universal British antidote to shock, but it hadn’t helped much, and she was loath to ask for the Mount Gay with tonic and lime for which the occasion seemed to call.

But Zelda became quite alert looking when Fritz introduced himself and asked for her name etc.  As the interview proceeded, Zelda told him of her scheduled meeting with Cummins, of finding the body and calling for help.  She explained her role as a project manager and, therefore, as a hiring manager.  In response to his questions about the nature of her project, she said that he would need to present any such questions to her boss since her project was in stealth mode.

She then explained that Mr. Cummins, as the parent company’s senior most recruiter, had been assigned to source candidates for her project.  Then, once she had made hire decisions, Cummins’ job was to secure their employment via a competitive but within guidelines offer, to sort out any remaining candidate questions or concerns, to arrange a start date, and to oversee the onboarding process — with all of this being done as quickly as possible in order to fill the key positions assigned to Cummins because of his presumed expertise.  She also described the events of the previous day which almost lost them a great candidate and then, when she had turned things around as much as possible with that candidate, were further compromised by Mr. Cummins’ proposing an almost insultingly low end job offer.

DCI Fritz took all of this in while quietly assessing Ms. Kahniefmeyer’s demeanor, speech patterns, body language, and all the other clues which he’d learned through experience could signal whether or not the “witness” was being entirely truthful, leaving something out or avoiding some aspect of the situation, going to be a keen and accurate or muddled observer, etc.  Ms. Kahniefmeyer was making a very good first impression with no obvious signs of lying, obfuscating, or muddying the waters, but Fritz knew better than to let first impressions solidify before their time.

Once Fritz knew that Cummins was a recruiter, the folders began to make much more sense as did the chart on the wall, but something the “witness” said gave him pause.  “I really don’t know why Mr. Cummins would have any such folders or that chart.  We’ve automated the hell out of all of our HR processes and data over the last couple of years, really automated all of our administrative and recordkeeping processes.  Cummins should be relying on and annotating those automated records, to include records on each job or position against which he’s recruiting, records on each hiring manager and how they like to work as well as their KSAOC preferences, records on each candidate and on every step of the candidate’s passage through the recruitment process, along with summary charts and analytics of everything you could ever want to know.”  Zelda had added: “And while I understand that he might want a giant chart so that, at a glance he could see where he is with meeting each hiring manager’s needs, I have absolutely no idea, from the pictures you’ve shown me of his chart and from a quick look at these manila folders, what information is contained in those mysterious, color-coded tick marks.

Since it was now getting on toward 11 PM, and he could see that Ms. Kahneifmeyer was at the end of her tether, DCI Fritz suggested that she leave her car in the office parking lot, and let a policewoman take her home and pick her up again in the morning, about 10:00 AM.  He knew he would need her help to decipher those tick marks, which instinct told him were likely to be important to solving this case, so he asked her if she could clear time on her schedule the next day to assist him with this.  By now Zelda would have agreed to anything just to get out of there, and so she did.

Stay Tuned For Chapter VI

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter IV

blog-dilbert-evil-hr-52521ee980dbabd9286331355dc6fd85[Chapter I, Chapter II, and Chapter III in case you missed them.]

It certainly felt like several hours had passed, but in fact it was only twenty minutes before DCI Fritz of the Peterborough CID arrived, followed shortly by his forensics, coroner and crime scene crew (collectively referred to as SOC).  After asking Zelda if she would bear with him for a while before he interviewed her, if she’d like a cup of tea and perhaps to wait in the cafeteria, and accepting her thanks for the tea but that she’d wait right there, Fritz began the routine investigation that every sudden death and potential crime scene warranted.  Always mindful of the SOC experts doing their preliminary examination of the body in situ, their photographic studies and fingerprinting of the surroundings, their retrieval for detailed analysis of all electronic devices, and so much more, DCI Fritz began his own assessment of the scene.

DCI Fritz was not a digital native, but he knew from his experience and training how much valuable information could be obtained from the digital, including video, records that surround all of us and from our social media exhaust.  His team would take care of probing those sources carefully.  But he also knew that, even at the end of 2016, most people still left a fair amount of physical detritus in their wake, from sticky notes inside their tablets with critical passwords to receipts — yes, some transactions still produce paper receipts — in their pockets.  And the sudden death of someone, in their own office, inside a tight security building (security which had been tightened even further when Great Software housed their “bet the farm” next gen architecture project there), made a quick and then meticulous search of that office a focus for DCI Fritz.

Doing that quick first look, and remembering that DCI Fritz didn’t yet know who Cummins had been, the nature of his work, etc., two things really stood out.  First, there were stacks of carefully labeled manila folders on Cummins’ desk, each with what appeared to be a person’s name on the tab.  They were filled with printouts of electronic records, many with handwritten notes and multi-colored tick marks, as well as handwritten records.  Second, there was a giant chart on the wall-sized whiteboard across from the desk whose rows were unknown names, whose columns had names which, on first glance, seemed to match those the folders, and whose cells were filled with multi-colored marks whose decoding wasn’t obvious.  Taking pictures of the chart on his phone and gathering up the folders once the fingerprint folks had done their thing, Fritz decided it was well past time to speak with Ms. Kahneifmeyer.

Stay Tuned For Chapter V

Death By Lousy HRM — Chapter III

Evil HR Director

Chapter I and Chapter II in case you missed them.]

Mr. Cummins and Zelda agreed to meet the next afternoon, just a little after the close of business, because Zelda had to lead a major code review that was going to take all day.  That night, in addition to preparing for the code review, she did her homework with Glassdoor, Salary.com, and lots of Google searching to come up with what she thought would be needed in Dee Dee’s offer to attract this highly qualified candidate for a critical position on Zelda’s “bet the farm” next gen architecture project.

Based on her research, she was ready to propose a slightly above market rate salary offer, a substantial signing bonus payable in twenty-four monthly installments, participation in the senior individual contributor incentive compensation plan with goals tied to the success of the next gen architecture project, and a modest but appropriate number of stock options.  Zelda also felt that Dee Dee’s work demands would be such that he should have three weeks PTO per year instead of the usual two weeks until his seniority made that the norm.

True to her own nerdy (some would say meticulous) work habits, she prepared a chart of her proposal with the backup included of how she arrived at each line item’s details.  Then she rehearsed how she would approach Mr. Cummins and how she would handle each of his likely objections.

The next day’s code review went well, but they were clearly getting behind, not to mention lacking the full brain trust needed to solve specific design challenges, because of the empty position Zelda hoped to fill with Dee Dee.  So it was with determination and a real sense of urgency but also the desire to be collegial that she arrived at Mr. Cummins’ office at the appointed time, just after 6:00 PM.

Oddly, Cummins’ office was dark when she arrived.  But thinking that Cummins had just stepped away for a moment, Zelda opened the door, turned on the light, and then nearly tripped over Mr. Cummins, lying motionless on the floor, as she walked into the office.  Oh no, thought Zelda, he’s had a heart attack.

But, as she looked more closely, she realized that no heart attack could have produced the exotic, beautifully carved knife poking out of Cummins’ chest — unless, of course, he had “fallen on his sword” while examining it.  “HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!” screams Zelda as she uses Cummins’ phone to dial 999.  “HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!” screams Zelda, when 999 answers, then pulls herself together to give the 999 operator the details of the emergency — who, what, where, when — along with her own name and contact information.  Then, following the 999 operator’s instructions, she walks out of the office, closes the door, and prepares to await the police she’s summoned.

Too exhausted emotionally to stand, she slumps down to the floor, sits with her back against the wall, and tries to collect her thoughts.

Stay tuned for Chapter IV