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May 21, 2006

Comparison v/s Competition

When I compare - I focus on what the other person is doing
When I compete - I focus on the goal

When I compare - the other person decides my pace
When I compete - I set my own pace

When I compare - failure of the other person can make me as happy as my own success
When I compete - only success matters

Comparison is limiting. Competition is healthy.

May 20, 2006

The Value of Talent

Ajit links to an article which essentially shows how "classifying employees by their role in the success of your business rather than by their function can improve the effectiveness of recruiting, staff development, and deployment."

The article categorizes employees into four broad groups, based on the their "value" and "cost impact:

Creators devise and implement an organization’s distinguishing value proposition or business model. They include senior executives and the chief designer in a fashion house. These are scarce resources with skills that take a long time to acquire and are costly to develop and maintain.

Ambassadors represent the organization’s public face and are responsible for customer experience. Among other positions, they are bank tellers, supermarket cashiers, nurses, and field installation technicians. In most cases, these workers are easily replaceable and their skills do not have to be particularly sophisticated, but if they don’t do their job well, the business can suffer significantly.

Craft Masters ensure the quality, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness of an organization — the essential ingredients for the faultless execution of a business strategy. These are the design engineers in a high-tech business, the “nose” of a perfume brand, the whiskey blender in a distillery, and the auditor in an accounting firm.

Drivers keep the business running. They are assembly-line operators, back-office agents, and administrative assistants. Although they are neither crucial to the success of a venture nor hard to hire, in most companies they represent the largest category of human capital, and bad management of this group can lead to operational disruption or quality problems.

I can see this classification being a good starting point for organizational diagnosis...and here are some things it could throw up -

How many people in your organization who were hired for the role of a "creator"are actually playing that of a "craft master"? A whole host of people who are expected to create value actually just end up managing a portion of the value chain

Look at your HR team...which category do most members belong to?

From your business continuity perspective, you would need to have strong pipelines for the "drivers" and "ambassadors"segment, and robust succession plans for the "creators" segment...do you have those?

Thoughts to ponder over the weekend...

  • When does a group become a team?
  • When does an action become an intervention?
  • When do differences become diversity?
  • When do employees become talent pools?
  • When does co-operation become collaboration?
  • When does a boss become a leader?
  • When does an organization become a community?

May 13, 2006

Altruism also has a price tag attached...

...but you can afford it if you are really poor!

HBS Working Knowledge has an interesting article on waiting line behaviour - where people in the waiting alone allowed others to cut into the queue if they offered money for the same. And the higher the payment, the more likely the individuals were to allow a stranger to cut ahead of them.No but wait..they didnt accept the money, as they thought it was inappropriate to exploit someone who was so hardpressed for time that he needed to pay money to buy it. So monay, allowed individuals to gain entry - but they didnt have to eventually part with it.

The article also makes me wonder - there is really a thin line between a bribe and a legitimate fee for a service - after all, both are driven by the cost of the stretch involved in meeting an urgent need right?

May 06, 2006

A Rap on your Knuckes!

I have come across Halls of Shames - where names of employees who performed abysmally in a particluar month were flashed in some form of a communication to the rest of the members of the team. And I never ever could comprehend how it served any purpose other than having a thoroughly demotivated workforce.

But this Californian company takes the cake for worst employee practices - spanking, making employees wear diapers, public humilation...but wait....i think whats worse is the attitude towards such kind of behaviours and the reasons given for it.

COO Patrick Smith, while acknowledging that the behaviour of his employees was wrong, also has this to say: "You have to understand the sales mentality. Sales guys are just that way."
To ask "which way" might mean giving away too much of your ignorance i guess.

The article also says:
"Katherine Hart, a Fresno attorney who represented the defendants, said during a phone interview on the day of the verdict that employee conduct at the security company was "reprehensible, but the intent was not to be malicious or sadistic."
Even Kayva Vishwanathan said that she did not "intend" to plagiarise.

Another one:
"It was young people acting juvenile and engaging in juvenile behavior," Hart noted. "They didn’t have much supervision and the company promoted salespeople without enough training. One woman (a plaintiff in an earlier case against Alarm One) was bruised (with a metal paddle). It was meant playfully--slaps on the butt. Then catcalls. It escalated."
The only training i can think of in this context is training in first aid. You would need it - when the blood starts oozing out.

Yet another:
Defense attorney Hart says the case is "an example of what happens when top management isn’t in touch at the grass-roots level. "The managers must have been out of touch. If they’d acted more like the CEO at Costco (Jim Sinegal), who personally visits every store, this never would have happened."
Your top management can visit the stores and still not know - if the culture does not promote communication and especially if you have policies like "specifying that employees could go to only a few upper-level managers with problems - which this firm had.

And the last one:
Despite headlines and the magnitude of the company’s mess, Smith says "everyone" at the company is happy and the work environment is very good. Alarm One--which had 400 employees at its peak in 2002--now has only 50 employees because of changes in the industry, Smith says. It is currently developing a new strategic plan for building the company.

I wish them all the best!