Posted tagged ‘incentives’

The Matrix

May 20, 2010

Thanks to some colleagues that, to be honest, are just plain smarter than me, I am becoming a fan of matrices, specifically two by two arrays better known as quadrants.  You know, like Gartner’s “magic quadrant” where everyone wants to be in the upper right hand corner at the happening intersection of The Ability to Execute Boulevard and Visionary Avenue.  Quadrants just seem to be a handy way of partitioning collections of objects into meaningful categories.  I think the other thing about quadrants that seems intuitive are the percentages and how easy they are to calculate and act upon.

For example, in high school, I had a bad haircut and was a bad dresser.  The quadrant for that looks like this:


Intuitively, we can see that my chances of getting a date for the prom were 25% assuming I would have needed a good haircut AND some style.   Sadly, this was empirically proven.

But that’s not my point…

Consider instead the relationship between effort and recognition, seen from your employees’ perspective.  What if your quadrant has these four elements:

Minimal Effort/No Credit
Effort/No Credit
Minimal Effort/Credit

Three of these four outcomes, as a leader, are not what you want.  You certainly don’t want your teams to do the minimum just to get by, right?  But if you don’t make damn certain they get recognition or credit when they DO expend the effort you want, you solved the equation for them!  They stand a one in four chance of a positive outcome.  And even if they’re not math majors, they can figure this one out.

You can mock this and contend its trivial but tell me you’ve never spent time in a large, bureaucratic organization where you can’t figure out why everyone seems so unmotivated.  Do the math, Neo…