Friday, April 30, 2010

How I am taking charge of my performance appraisal process

This year at work, I created my own "Performance Appraisal Activity" in SAP Streamwork. Now, I am in-charge of my performance appraisal process. Not my HR department. Not my manager.

I added my goals and invited my appraisers to join. 
I added my goals for this year to Streamwork and invited my manager to participate in the process. I also invited another colleague who guides me in the design thinking process and a product management colleague who provides a lot of inputs and shares similar goals to participate in my performance appraisal process.

I attach artifacts related to my accomplishments to my goals
One of my goals this year is to support the sales team in key pursuits to sell talent management software. In January I visited a customer and outlined the product vision of my company and convinced them that they should consider my company's talent management software. When they signed a large deal with us the account executive sent me a email thanking me for my efforts and outlined my contribution to the pursuit. I attached that email to the Goal "Support the field in 3 major sales pursuits".

I nudge my appraisers
Whenever i update the goals with comments or attachments, my appraisers get an email update. It is a signal to them that I did something I think is worthy of sharing with them. It is small nudge to let them know that I have my goals in mind and I am working towards them. They can choose to see what I updated, if they wish.

Even customers and partners can appraise me
If I want to invite some one who does not work for my company, such as a customer, to appraise me, I can do that as well. Because my performance appraisal activity is in the cloud, there is no technical restriction on who I can invite to review my work. If I am a consultant working for a customer for several months in a year, it may make perfect sense for me to invite a customer project manager to provide feedback on my performance.

My appraisers are active coaches in my pursuit to reach my goals.
My appraisers don't just watch my activity stream. They comment on my updates providing simple inputs and attaching learning resources that they think might help me towards that goal. As and when I read the document they provided or watch the video they pointed me to, I post a note thanking them and add my comments on what I learned from their inputs. It is almost like working in Facebook.

You can take charge of your performance too for free.
If this sounds like something that you would like to do as well, check out Streamwork. It is available now on the internet and is free for up to 5 activities. I just use one activity to manage my performance assessment process for the entire year.

If you like the way I use Streamwork, or have suggestions or questions please leave a comment. I will reply as soon as I can. If there are 5 or more questions on a particular topic, I may post a video to explain what I did.

Click here to reach Streamwork. Don't worry too much about the message on the home page of Streamwork saying that it is a decision support tool. Of course it helps you do that. But there are many more things you can do with Streamwork. Go ahead. Take charge of your performance.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Marketing by Sharing and Teaching Others. Even potential Competitors

David Armano, Brand U.0, Critical Mass

5 Bs of Brand You. Be Ubiquitous, Be Social, Be Interesting, Be Remarkable, Be Yourself.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rework by the founders of 37Signals

I am reading and enjoying the book "Rework" by the founders of 37Signals.
The book is meant to be a collection of, mostly iconoclastic, ideas for anyone who wants to start a business. For example, the authors suggest the following.

  • Learning from mistakes is overrated. 
  • Planning is guessing and hence unnecessary. 
  • Fire the workaholics. 
You get the idea. I don't see this as a book for people who want to start a business. The business success of the authors is a symptom of power returning gradually to individuals and small group of people, passionate about their ideals. The book gives me hope that the mediocre products created and encouraged by the industrial era might be on the decline.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Rapid Prototype for an Important Customer

At work, my colleagues at the SAP Design Services Team, follow and evangelize a design methodology called "Make to Think" and "Think To Make". When I was called in by my most important customer (my wife) to provide my design ideas for a mission critical project, the design of tiles in our bathroom, I decided to apply my training by the Design Services Team of SAP and the expertise I acquired by working with them to the job.

Instead of developing a design strategy and making a presentation to her (which normally does not go very well), I invited her to join me in creating a prototype. We created a full size prototype with news paper and tape to visualize our bathroom tile design. By participating in the design process, we created something that both of us were invested in.  Instead of suggesting a design, I invited her to create a design by placing the 'accent tiles' on the wall and quickly experiment with multiple placements and layouts.

The prototype was done within two hours on a Sunday evening. It was rough and yet helped us make very important emotional, personal and spending decisions. This has been most important pay back so far from my Wall Street Journal subscription.

By the way, this approach might work well for less important things like multi-million dollar, multi year software projects.

Update two weeks later
The end product resulted remarkably close to the original design
The paper prototype was even more remarkable than I thought it would be. Our tile contractor used it as the "design document" and always referred back to the "document". Even though I did not articulate many things to him, he understood my intentions and we used the paper prototype as an object of discussion. We kept the conversation about the prototype and not about each others skills. (My design skills and his craftsmanship.)

Some work-in-progress pictures and finished product pictures to compare the "design document" with the final result. This is the picture at the end of week 1. We referred back to the paper prototype to make some decisions

If you are in the San Francisco Bay area and want to use the services of this tile contractor who did this job, here are the details. He works for himself and is a good craftsman.

JLM Custom Tile2138 Quito Road, San Jose, CA 95130-1929(408) 866-1937
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