Monthly Archives: November 2008

Talent coach and counter incentives

It is assumed that the best incentive for a worker is the fear of losing their job. It makes workers productive it is said. I have to admit that this is indeed very powerful motivation in keeping the work force engaged.It keeps the gears rolling under most conditions except the most critical one, the performance of talented workforce that drive the modern knowledge based economies.

I have often enough witnessed operations either stalling or running so bogged down because the people running them were terrified that they would lose their job if they did the wrong thing. Let us first admit that the only people who do not make mistakes are the ones that do nothing, everyone else fucks up every once in a while. Now picture an IT department operating under such a modus operandi, sound familiar? The net result is that every work is outsourced to consultants, no one takes responsibility and no one has the know how to shoulder any burden no matter how light it is. Sounds familiar? It is more or less how most corporate environments work and that is why most corporate environments are in a rush to find out why talented people are abandoning them.

Now remove this punishment counter-incentive from your team. Engage them and tell them that it is OK if they make a mistake, big or small as long as they put their backs into saving the damage. Stand back and behold, your people, the ones that care about the art of their work, will start coming up with solutions that not even the most enlightened of managers would not have thought off. Let them loose and just hold on the reins losely so they do not go off into tangential work and believe me you will not believe your eyes.

One has to have a hold on the reins in the fashion that to keep things rolling one has to carefully monitor the level of fault pas from the staff. As long as their number is under control all is well, else tighten a bit. If there are no snaffus chances are that the staff is falling asleep, prick them a bit.

All the above allusions have brought forth a mental picture: A talent coach (tech mgr) is like a coach driver, he/she needs to now the work to load on his team as well as when to lose or tighten the reins.


Why not all superb technologists become millionaires ? It is a a problem of values really.

Technologists much like artists, especially the superb ones, value the art behind their creations, their measure, as old hackers used to say, is how elegant a solution is, how divine the idea how refined the approach. Think of it as a fine painting that may have an appeal to the populace but often enough it would not make any connection with the world at large.

Entrepreneurs on the other hand value the monetary level behind their creations. They could care less of design and elegance unless it increases the profit margin, and guess what if one cares about money he/she will make money more often than not.

Think for a moment, right now I am developing a non intrusive voip quality measurement system that will be able to run on windows/linux and on embedded platforms. Had I stopped for a minute to consider who would buy this, I would have dropped the idea. Yet I am running the creator’s fever, I will not be able to relax unless I finish it.

The few enlightened individuals that can cross the chasm are called geniuses by us humbler beings. People like John Walker the creator of AutoCad have created both splendid work and a few fortunes to last. I do not include the well known William in this list, I do not consider him a technologist.

Thank god that there are some technology millionaires so that not all kids will have Trump as their idol!