monitoring performance to death | Becoming Better.

I was referred to this post from the excellent thinkpurpose blog.

Basically, the premise is that extreme monitoring makes you slower, but slightly better; slight monitoring *always* makes things worse.

I liked 

In situations like mine …, where work is not 100% plannable …, monitoring is a great way to fill time while irritating people to the maximum.

So performance mostly about systems/process rather than people sound familiar…?

I’ve just remotely attended a really interesting presentation in London [OK, I attended remotely], by Media Snackers who talked about engaging with the young, through social media and so on.

Couple of things:

The world’s changed, and it’s not turning back

used to be their strapline – but they’re now emphasising

cheaper, quicker, sexier

as what the social media stuff can do. Look at their site to see what they are about.
A couple of the points they raised struck me – the takeup of social media amongst the young is astonishing; they highlighted a Forrester report which segment the social media area into

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

and this is segmented by age – with the creatives and critics highly represented in 16-24, with spectators and inactives being preponderantly 50+ (like me!)

perhaps nothing too new for some of us – although there are scary figures about the change in media consumption, but something he said struck a chord. More or less:

… a lot of people seem to be getting into the space; I mean, look at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office – they’re a lot of suits, but they’re on Flickr, on YouTube, on Twitter, they blog… where are you? I mean, c’mon guys…

I thought, that can’t be right, can it?
So, I had a brief look, and found a Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and blog platform presence for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. It may not be exciting, but it looks like they do have a coherent social media strategy.

What are you doing?

If someone looks for you on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter – what will they find? If they search for a blog presence or social media involvement – what will they see?

If you’re not taking part in the conversation… it will go right on. Without you.

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trust sculpted

Having a quick glance at Hugh Macleod’s excellent blog, from last week, my attention was caught by his humanification bit where he chats about a previous posting:

4. You’ve already done “efficient”. We’re living in a post-efficiency world now. We already know how to make things better, cheaper and faster than the previous generation. We already know how to squeeze our suppliers till the pips squeak. We already know how to build systems that maximize profits at every stage of the production and selling process. We’re already outsourcing our stuff to China, and so is everyone else. Been there. Done that. So where does the growth need to come from? What needs to happen, in order to save your job?


5. The growth will come, I believe, not by yet more increased efficiencies, but by humanification. For example, take two well-known airlines. They both perform a useful service. They both deliver value. They both cost about the same to fly to New York or Hong Kong. Both have nice Boeings and Airbuses. Both serve peanuts and drinks. Both serve “airline food”. Both use the same airports. But one airline has friendly people working for them, the other airline has surly people working for them. One airline has a sense of fun and adventure about it, one has a tired, jaded business-commuter vibe about it. Guess which one takes the human dimension of their business more seriously than the other? Guess which one still will be around in twenty years? Guess which one will lose billions of dollars worth of shareholder value over the next twenty years? What parallels do you see in your own industry? In your own company?

The comments on that post led to this post which was talking about how Lee Bryant viewed “humanification” – or as he put it “Humanising the Enterprise

By elevating the individuals in the organisation above systems, and by re-balancing the relationship between people and process, we can create a social fabric that lives and breathes the values that large companies are trying to instill in their organisations. We have the tools and the ideas to do this in ways that were not possible before, and we are in a position to finally move beyond Taylorism and the factory model to a new era of genuinely people-powered organisations and networks. We know how to create rich and purposeful social networks as vehicles for collaboration and co-operation. We know how to aggregate ideas and negotiate common language to create better forms of information organisation and retrieval. We know a lot more about what is possible when people trust each other by default; and we also know a lot more about how to engage in debate and deliberation with people who agree with us and people who do not.

In my own company there are ongoing tensions about achievement, performance, reward – and there’s a perception that there’s not as much trust as there could be. Let’s hope we do trust our people – and deliver what Lee and Hugh seem to think is achieveable.

Image Credit: doctor paradox
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Everyone wants to contribute


Just read The Starfish and The Spider, an interesting book by Beckstrom and Brafman. I’ll post more about this on another day but I liked the focus on Emotional Intelligence and their proclaimed rules, particularly:

Rule 5:Everyone wants to contribute

It’s all about trust.

Why doubt them?

I look at my firm’s values, which are:

  • Trustworthy – we do what we say we will
  • Helpful – we work as one team
  • Inspiring – we create new possibilities
  • Straightforward – we make things clear
  • Heart – we believe in what we do

and sigh.


Because I have to produce evidence, related to my work area that shows how I have demonstrated these values, using a narrow form of words. I must produce evidence for each of these, every quarter.

If there’s time to spare from the day job…

This evidence will be assessed by my line manager; my unit manager; it will then be assessed by our HR partners – who, as in many large corporates nowadays, don’t even work for the same organisation.

This HR organisation and senior managers will then endeavour to weigh everyone’s evidence – and will attempt to ensure that the evidence is used to justify a normal distribution of performance ranges – which will impact pay and bonuses.

Dark blue is less than one standard deviation ...Image via Wikipedia

Is this the best way to spend your people’s time? Google do something constructive with 20% of their folk’s time…

I can understand some of the motivation for it. People say, “How come so many people are marked Good or Very Good, if the team, or unit, or company isn’t achieving their objectives? Maybe we should mark more of them lower as they haven’t delivered.”

I can understand the motivation, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right. If you’re rowing in a galley, it doesn’t matter how hard you row, if the the helmsman points you somewhere… that’s where you’re going. If you’re aware of where he’s pointing, and you’ve discussed how hard you need to row… – you can’t necessarily influence the destination.

Making your people jump through hoops to prove what they’re doing neither demonstrates belief in their trustworthiness, nor fosters a team ethic, nor encourages sharing of knowledge – which I’ve previously mentioned when talking about performance management.

I gather there are changes coming. Maybe, I’ll be trusted.

Picture Credit polapix

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Do you recognise your opportunities?

Doer or sayer? Like many, I have good intentions – I mean, I’ve even looked at

It seems I’m not alone.

I flew into Manchester, England tonight. It was a warm pleasant evening, around 6.30 pm. I noticed, as I have done often, how the United Kingdom’s historic climate – and sky high energy costs – has meant how few swimming pools there are.

What there was were numerous dark circles. As I looked closer, I recognised them as trampolines – all with their little net guards round them. In some areas, about 1 in 5 houses seemed to have them.

What opportunities do you have?

I’d guess most of these were bought by parents, eager to ensure in these “stranger-danger”, “school run” days that their kids have a safe place to play – which will encourage them into physical activity. A laudable intent as the UK heads – seemingly inexorably – towards an obesity crisis. [Why do you think I *look at* physical fitness sites – I know what I should do…]

What did all of the trampolines have in common? Yes, they were black. Yes, they were round. Yes, they all had nets around them. What was most noticeable? They were *all* empty.

Why? I don’t know – it *could* have been because of a wonderful kids programme on TV – or it could be because many parents – and I’m as guilty of this as some – think that they need to compensate for the time the spend away from their children by spending money and giving them “worthwhile” things to do…

The children – quite possibly – have differing ideas on how to spend their time.

Do you take your opportunities?

As we get older, opportunities come to us in different ways. We have less of parents pushing us towards things – and more of alternatives at work, in our social lives – and even in the blogosphere.

I think sometimes, I can reject the opportunities that are there – when I should be grabbing them with both hands…I need to learn more about what Web2.0 might offer me; I need to coach others into using it to help them; I need to use my residual fitness to help me get fitter – so I can enjoy my life longer.

That was brought home to me today when I attended a Coastguard shout, and had to chat to a young man who’d been rescued adrift in the Firth. He was fine, but if he hadn’t been, I would have been searching for his remains. I want to enjoy my life for as long as possible – and part of that is enjoying the opportunities life presents me.

What about you? Are you rejecting opportunities?

Image Credit:.m for matthijs


Good with dates?

I remember my birthday. My wife, when she’s being cynical, which is rare says one reason we married was that we have the same birthday. I stand *no* chance of ever forgetting her birthday.

One of our friends gave us a counted cross stitch tapestry to celebrate our wedding day. It, with the helpful date and year, hang over the bed. I don’t forget our anniversary, either.

Do you remember phone numbers/email addresses?

I used to work in a service organisation. Back in the 80s, I would have a list of maybe a hundred numbers for organisations/people I needed to contact in my head. I probably recognised a couple of hundred customer numbers, too.

Nowadays, I either use a cellphone directory, a shortcode button or web based lookup. Why would I need to remember a number? I can’t tell you my mother or brother’s full street address. Why would I remember it? I send email, and gifts… usually come from Amazon… who remember their address for me.

What about your IDs?

I use my employee number at work all the time; I guess it’s like your Army number. Hard to forget. Elsewhere – I have loads of IDs. Sometimes, my browser remembers them. Sometime sxipper remembers them.

Best of all, I like my OpenID. Somewhere that accepts that makes me feel good.

Some things, you just don’t remember

I must have vacuumed the stairs in my house 300 times. Each stair, individually. Do you know how many steps are in the main flight of stairs in your home? Without checking?

Some passwords are like that. Hard to remember. Tech Mavens did a piece on password complexity a while back. When I get a password rejected with “No non-alphanumerics” or “Repeated digits” I get really wound up. One system at work I had to get reset 15 times before I’d worked out a mnemonic I could use.

If you are designing a system, remember your user might have to remember scores of IDs and passwords. Don’t protect them so much they won’t use your system.

Oh, my stairs? There are 13 of them. I counted them on Sunday. I wondered why I didn’t know how many there were.
What don’t you remember?

Picture Credit S@Z