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March 08, 2009

Rewards, good or bad?

Every organisation I have always been part of had rewards of some sort. IF you behaved properly, a reward (and sometimes if you didn`t a punishment). Every chance I had to organise something on my professional life took that into consideration. I created prizes related to process improvement, to Knowledge Management, etc. I must say I remember reading some people against this kind of approach, but never paid attention to it. When working on my OPP and CBE PMA`s a found this book (Punished by Rewards - The problem with gold stars, incentive plans, A`s,praise and other bribes) that defended the opposite idea. He said people did not change because of those bribes. They just tried to cheat the system. Once again is something that relates to Deming, that was also not a fan of it. His argument builds on psychology, and is very well defended and rational. I used it as a criticism and reflection in my OPP, CBE, and PIUSS PMA. That came to my mind because in PIUSS several authors defend it a form of making a new culture stick. Create punishments and rewards for those who behave. Today reading something about KBAM I found the same kind of argument. I must say I think the logic behind the book is perfect. I can not argue against it. On the other hand, perhaps out of habit I still can`t think this is wrong. The only defence I can present, however, that if people are not changed by prizes or punishment at least you use those prizes to communicate, to indicate what is desired. This might raise awareness, might make people think about why this reward/punishment is been applied and if you can clearly communicate the reason....another possible advantage is that by giving recognition to someone who behaved in an specific way you could be just saying a "thank you"to someone who did something that the organisation understands is good and desired by it. And that can be used on a Six Sigma program or in a KM initiative. But I agree that people will not change just because of that, they can see that, reflect on it and perhaps change out of their reflection, but not because of the reward itself.


targets

Sometime ago I had a discussion in this blog with the Deming idea that one should not put targets on production. It took a while for me to fully understand and agree that the problem were not the targets themselves, but individual production related targets were wrong. For example, having the idea of continuously improving a company is a target because you will have to measure and identify that those measures are improving. That is the target, improving.

However everything you study and see asks for measures. Study for KBAM one of the procedures that is recommended is to have measures and to attach those measures to results and numbers. And those measures/targets have to be SMART, (what means they should be specific...). So that is an important balance. You need to have objectives and some degree of objectivity is needed , some target is needed. But that has to be real and collective, and has to be thought in such a way that will stimulate everyone to drive honestly together, everyone to work as a system toward this guiding objective.

So that is the hard thing, have objectives that help the system to improve, have the people to know what to do and that actually bring performance benefits that are real and not only created to achieve short term advantages.

 



March 02, 2009

Knowing is more them having

About 1,5 years ago I decided to go overseas to study. I had that dream for a while but for one reason or the other I had not done it. However that moment seem very appropriate.

I started looking for it and found all the information's needed. I liked everything but one thing. It was a very expensive thing to do.  I looked for scholarships and they were available however if I wanted them I would have to wait at least one more year and that could have completed cancelled the possibility of coming due to several personal and professional issues.

The thing is, I had money for that. I`ve been working since I was a teenager and I managed to save money for that. I had just enough with a certain margin of safety (and of course if something REALLY out of control, a special Cause happened, I had some emergency alternatives in place). But was it worth? Would not I be better off keeping it, or using it to help me buy a flat or something else?

The first answer to my problem came from my financial background. I calculated what this degree could bring to me in terms of salary increase and compared it to what the overall amount of money would give me interest-wise in a low risk application (if you prefer, made an economical cost calculation using the cost of opportunity concept).  It made sense to spend it that way.

Second I had a very nice conversation with an uncle I have.  And he reminded me of something I always said but had forgotten. What you know is worth much more then what you have. That is specially true when we are young. Knowledge is the best possible asset. No one will never be able to take it away from you. And in this digital workd even more. That was the killing argument, and perhaps the main reason why I am here in the first place.

Therefore it makes all sense the people and organisations should do their best to manage knowledge, to try to make the best out of it. That`s actually what they are paying for when hiring people, specially expensive ones.



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