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‘kwench Author Connect (15 Feb, 1100 hrs)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

AuthorConnect_Feb15_LibraryBanner_ JustKidding_BookCover_ Saturday mornings are usually the time for a late-start, a hot cup of coffee and that much-ignored book that you haven’t found time to finish.

This Saturday get your coffee and stretch your legs out on the sofa and meet up with an author!

Anirban Das talks about his first book, the joy (and pain) of writing one with a full time job and will also answer your questions in the Feb ’14 ‘kwench Author-Connect webcast.

Advance registration is required. To register for this session of Author Connect please click [here].

Take a sneak peek at what the book is all about:

And some sample chapters [here]

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Annual Performance Reviews – All Noise, No Signal

I posted this on the ‘kwench blog today. It’s a continuation of my opinion that annual performance reviews are flawed and should be stopped. It’s a carry-forward from the Industrial Era and really has no meaning in the present Knowledge Era.

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Performance_Review_Back in university when I was busy studying communication theory, the one thing we obsessed over was the SNR or Signal-to-Noise ratio.

The professor in charge of teaching us the nuances of what was quite a difficult topic, used to rate the pop-quizzes he gave us on a range of zero to one in increments of 0.1. He gave one to answers that got to the point correctly with little or no fluff (‘Maximum Signal and little noise’ as the prof said) and zero to those that beat around the bush and got no where in particular (‘All Noise, No Signal’). Most of us, unsurprisingly, clustered around 0.5.

Years later, I ran into my professor again. Now retired, he was more chatty that he ever was in the classroom and we got reminiscing about those much dreaded pop-quizzes. “I have a confession,” he said, laughing out loud, “there was far…

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The immovable ladder

The Immovable Ladder

The Immovable Ladder (Hebrew: סולם הסטטוס קוו‎, literally: The status quo ladder) is a wooden ladder located above the facade, under the window of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. Made of cedar wood, possibly from Lebanon, it was first mentioned in 1757 and has remained in the same exact location since the 18th century, aside from being temporarily moved on two occasions. The ladder is referred to as immovable due to an understanding that no cleric of the six ecumenical Christian orders may move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of all six orders.

Reminds me of the reasons behind the policy paralysis currently prevailing in the country.

Image and Quoted Text source: Wikipedia.


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Your gold is not my gold!

ColorShades_I have often ended up at the losing end of long discussions where my point of view is hopelessly out of synch with the other person (or people, more often than not).  I am sure this is a fairly common occurrence – the precursor to much tearing of hair and snorts of disgust. You have a point of view, you extrapolate and expect the other person will see it the way you do and when that doesn’t happen you have a problem. Now that’s the easy part. But what happens when the person does see the same thing as you (literally or figuratively) and still doesn’t quite?

Take something as simple as the colour gold – here’s the dictionary meaning.

gold: gəʊld/ noun [noun: gold; symbol: Au; plural noun: golds]
1.    a yellow precious metal, the chemical element of atomic number 79, used in jewellery and decoration and to guarantee the value of currencies.
2.     a deep lustrous yellow or yellow-brown colour.

Let’s break down the yellow. Can you? If you want to really nitpick (or are an electronics engineer and like to nitpick) you could say its the colour formed when you mix two of the primary colours red and green. But its just the same thing so lets stick with yellow. Now go to any self respecting paint shop and they will have shade-cards. There are dozens and dozens of shades of yellow and they all have names (gasp!). Lets say we pick canary-yellow. You say that the shade of colour in that tiny square on the shade card is the same shade as you see on the bird. I look at the square and nod in agreement. Indeed it is the same shade I have seen on the bird. But does that mean I am seeing exactly what you are seeing? From the stand point of physics – yes (again if you don’t nitpick about the angle of reflection of the light etc).

When you say canary yellow my brain is effectively doing two lookups (to borrow a term from excel) – one for canary and another for yellow. There is a memory there which it maps against and then confirms. That memory itself has been formed by an interpretation of the shade by the passing of light through my eyes and the firing of neurons when I learnt that a particular shade was canary-yellow. This reference might be actually very different from what you have stored in your brain. Now because of the unique way the photo-receptors in my eyes, the nerves, and my brain is constructed every time I see the same shade as I think is canary-yellow.

And I am not hallucinating: Read more here and here

So maybe when you look at the metal with atomic number 79, you might be seeing something that I don’t which makes you want to buy tons of it. I totally get it. But it would really help everyone if you changed the colour shade a bit so you don’t get so excited about what at the end of the day is just a metal. (Now go read the latest Financial Stability Report published by the RBI (Dec 2013), just for kicks – especially sections 1.12 through 1.18)

Image courtesy of

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Increase the shadow of the future (among other things)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Before you hand out the badges and thank-you’s to all your hard working employees this week (You do engage with them, don’t you?), take a pause and think if you might actually be doing it all wrong!

Yes you should recognize (and reward) your employees for the hard work they do, for putting in exemplary performances but then again – are they doing too much simply because you haven’t done your job right? As business grow larger and more complex, managing that complexity correctly is also key to employee engagement (and therefore success, profit and everything good that flows from it)

In a very interesting talk Yves Morieux offers six rules for ‘smart simplicity’

1. Understand what your people do

2. Reinforce integrators

3. Increase the total power that people have to take decisions

4. Extend the shadow of the future: Here he talks about how people can be motivated…

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We’re Hiring! Job opening (for the world’s best) graphic designer.

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Rewards that go boink! (or the folly of cash as an incentive)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Money_Trap_Mark Hanna:   The name of the game, move the money from your client’s pocket into your pocket.
Jordan Belfort:   But if you can make your clients money at the same time it’s advantageous to everyone, correct?
Mark Hanna:   No

(Dialogue from the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, 2013)

I have an article on how to ‘Engage the employee with the right reward’ up on People Matters where I continue to advocate the need for companies to find the right strategy towards rewarding their employees – doling out cash bonuses just doesn’t cut it.

This post however, is more about what I left out of that article (thanks to word-count limits and the need to stay focused on the theme). At the very beginning of the article I mention in passing how the financial collapse of 2008 exposed the flaw of a cash-bonus-linked-to-sales strategy. What I did…

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