Do a #RIGBY – A Different Performance Review

If you are watching Silicon Valley then you will know about #RIGBY. If you aren’t then you should watch Silicon Valley.

#RIGBY stands for ‘Richard is great, but y’ know’ and is a shorthand used by the characters for skipping the bit where we are nice about people before immediately criticising them.

‘I can’t fault their hard work but… ‘
‘They are an absolute expert, no doubt, but…’
‘They’ve got incredible experience and they really know their stuff, but… ‘

A conversation with @MJCarty (fresh from a 100th much smarter than this one blog) prompted me to think how much shorter performance reviews would be without needing the flannel.

The current trends in this area are to focus on forward looking development areas and strengths based approaches, but wouldn’t it be glorious to work in an environment where the great stuff was praised so much during the year that we could really be highly analytical of poor performance without the tension of the set up? As Simon Heath so wonderfully illustrated…

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The Red Arrows apparently finish each display and basically do a #RIGBY. They start talking about what went wrong openly, candidly, clinically and with a focus on improvement. They #RIGBY.

They don’t start off the conversation ‘You are great at flying jets at high speed and not passing out at high G Forces, that almost goes without saying but.. ‘

There are a couple of things bouncing around in my head

1. It’s said that a positive ratio of praise to criticism is needed to keep people motivated. Does a #RIGBY count as praise? ‘Seriously, 5 #RIGBYS for that project, but what I wanted to talk to you about…’

2. Someone once told me that if you value people then you value their time. Would a #RIGBY be the ultimate sign of that?

Please note: this blog continues to be written with a mixture of curiosity and tongue in cheek. Please do not take this as an organisational Bible. This advice may ruin a company.

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Technology never sleeps

When you go to bed tonight your brain is still operating. It is is still making sense of the world, but primarily it is resting and recuperating. Your body and mind are in the process of refreshing for a large percentage of each night. During the day we process some information, we retain some information and we make sense of a range of inputs. We also spend time each day that is less focused on thinking or learning – we eat, we relax with friends, we switch off as much as we can and turn into zombies binge watching a box set or a movie.

During all those relatively fallow periods technology is relentlessly and tirelessly improving. It doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t break off to grab a quick snack and it certainly doesn’t put anything off to watch a movie. It learns, improves and then learns some more. There is no way to compete with something that relentless. It is reading, calculating, running scenarios and problem solving whilst you doze.

There is interesting work being carried out around minimising the amount of sleep that we need each night by triggering deep sleep more rapidly, but we won’t ever match the machines in terms of time ‘switched on’. We have created platforms and programmes set against which we are at an evolutionary disadvantage.

 Indeed, somewhat perversely, we are deliberately attempting to erode that advantage. 

There is no doubt that the debate on the impacts of automation too often oscillates from apocalyptic to a vast underestimation of the potential impact. It is true that new jobs will be created over the coming years, but it’s unclear why those jobs would be better suited to being delivered by humans rather than AI or robotics.

 When I talk about automation to groups a strange quirk is that usually most people think everyone else’s job is the room could be replaced by technology except theirs. It’s an intriguingly human response to changes that can seem out of our control.

We need to make choices over our future and we need to not only deal with some of the realities of technology, but to play an active part in shaping those technologies. Whether as a species,  country, community or organisation; we need to shape our own destiny together. 

There are big questions, big challenges and big opportunities over the coming years. It’s a complex world and if you are struggling to make sense of the scale of the shift then I suggest you do something distinctly human: sleep on it and come back to it in the morning.

Just know that whilst you were sleeping the problem advanced… Just a little bit.

(this blog was originally published at futureofworkishuman.org

Values and Moments of Truth

I’m sitting opposite a distressed gentleman who is on the phone. He is demanding the name of the person on the other end of the phone line in the contact centre that he is tied up with.

It’s his fifth call to try and resolve an issue. He says their claim to be ‘responsive’ is a lie. He is frustrated by the experience and that lie. He keeps being told the issue will be resolved and then never hears from anyone again. He can’t hold them to account due to the lack of physicality of the action. He isn’t able to say he won’t leave the store until the issue is resolved. He isn’t in a store. Customer service is a person you can’t even see.

The person on the other end of the line will have multiple calls like this a day. Being told their company isn’t living up to its values will, most likely, be an hourly occurrence. And it won’t hurt. There won’t be the feeling of letting someone down that you get with failing a friend or breaking a human to human promise. There won’t be anything except a desire to get the call resolved some way somehow.

Organisations are too nebulous to make and keep promises. Values being lived throughout an organisation remains a rarity. When an organisation lets someone down we are told the people involved have moved on or that it was an isolated issue or it doesn’t normally happen. There is no heartfelt ‘sorry’ where there is no heart.

I can feel the frustration and helplessness of the man sitting opposite. I can’t help. He is referencing a promise that nobody but a marketing department ever expected to be kept. And maybe not even them. These are the moments of truth of modern life, when you realise the truth is the promises have no accountability sitting behind them.