HR Administration

A Tournament Time Letter

By Staff Report

Mar. 16, 2012

Dear NCAA selection committee,

I’m sorry. So Sorry.

Ever since I started following college basketball, I have perennially disparaged you for making bone-headed selections in the March Madness tournament. I’ve busted out more than my fair share of “Are you kidding mes?” and enough “You can’t be seriouses” with colorful language attached that would make ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale blush.

OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch if you know Dickie V.

But now I know the committee’s pain. It’s not easy making selections and creating matchups, especially for two workforce-related bracket challenges that span nine decades. For the Workforce Impact tournament alone, just think back to everything that’s happened in the past 90 years and then try to come up with the 64 most important people, events, technology and other topics, that have made the workplace what it is today. And then, once you’ve made those selections, who plays whom? Same with our Pop Culture bracket. How many movies, shows, songs, etc. are deserving? Lots, I tell you. Lots. At least the NCAA has the Ratings Percentage Index, better known as the RPI, to fall back on to help it determine how difficult a school’s schedule was and how deserving it is of a high or low ranking in the tournament. I’ve yet to see such an index that compares the Social Security Act’s accomplishments to that of social media’s.

So how did we do it, you ask? Here’s how: Back in November, I asked everyone on the editorial staff to compile a list of 25 potential topics for the Workforce Impact tournament. I also asked for suggestions for the Pop Culture bracket, which started out as a 32-topic field until we realized there would be too many hard-to-leave-out choices, so we bumped it up to 64. From there, we all met and voted on the topics. If two-thirds of the voters agreed on a subject, the topic was in. If half of the judges agreed, then the idea was tabled and re-voted on at a later date until we had about 75 percent of the topics picked.

After that was done, we asked our readers what they thought. We got a lot of great submissions, and a couple even suggested we add Workforce Management to the tournament. Stop, you make us blush! Some of the ideas would have been great, but they didn’t meet our criteria of taking place in the past 90 years to mark our anniversary, such as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for Pop Culture. Great book, perfect workforce topic, but published in 1906—16 years before The Journal of Personnel Research, our predecessor, first went to press. We picked out the best reader selections and voted on them, with the same requirements, until we had 64 teams in each tournament.

Then, we had to decide who played whom. That was tricky because you have to not only pick sensible first-round matchups but also keep in mind what could occur in the second round, etc.

But here we are today, and I’m really proud to have been a part of this and excited to see how it plays out. It is quite an undertaking, but it is, to channel my inner Dickie V, “Awesome with a capital ‘A,’ baby!” too.

So now it’s your turn, and the good thing is you don’t need to know a thing about basketball to play: Just vote on what you think deserves to move on to the second round, etc. The topics with the highest vote totals in the individual matchups will move on to the next round. Each round will last two weeks; there are six in all. We will announce the ultimate winner in both brackets when our special 90th-anniversary issue comes out in July.

So feel free to second-guess. It’s part of the fun. Hey, even some of our bracketologists are scratching their heads and offering up a few “What were they thinkings?” over some omissions and low seedings.

Feel free to recruit friends and colleagues to play as well. You can even print out the bracket and write down your picks to win bragging rights at your office or in your LinkedIn network.

And before I end this, I have one more thing to tell the NCAA selection committee: Thanks for nothing for giving my alma mater, Missouri, a No. 2 seed in this year’s tournament. My hats off to the Norfolk State Spartans for pulling the upset, but the Tigers should have been a No. 1 seed after winning the Big 12 tournament following a stellar regular season. If you set the bracket up correctly, the March 19 debacle in Omaha, Nebraska, would have never happened. Madness, indeed. Oops; there I go again.

Enjoy the tournaments.


James Tehrani,

Workforce Management copy desk chief

To comment, email

Play the Workforce Impact bracket challenge.

Play the Workforce Pop Culture bracket challenge.


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