August 7th, 2003

What I learnt from playing games…


For the last few months, I was trying to complete the RPG game Breath of Fire IV. (Yes, “Months” for a simple game. I dont really have much time for game, you know!)

Anyway, in BoF IV, there is this cute mini faeries game. This game allows you manage a colony of 20 faeries. Each faerie has 3 attributes: endurance, knowledge and style and 4 possible personalities. The faeries game also has a “culture rating” which represent the sum of these attributes of all your faeries. If you have high culture rating, you get better faeries.

So what do I learnt from this game?As I play this mini game, what I found out is that to get high culture rating, I have to systematically kill the bottom 10-20% weakest faeries to allow new faeries to be born. And as the culture rating increases, I get better faeries. The whole process to get high culture rating takes a long time.

Simple process but one which we dont see much in many organizations. Most management knows they are as good as the people in the company. Yet, very few company practice this “killing the bottom 10%” process. Many reasons are given: “Oh, Joe? He may not perform but everyone likes him…Kate? she may be slow but her result is okay!”.

Firing people is painful, especially if you are firing your friends. I know because I have to do it before…twice. But what most people dont realize is that this weeding out the bottom 10% is a neccessary organization renewal process, allowing you to bring in potentially much better people. And as you repeat the process, you get better people in the company which will attract even better people.

An organization which dont renew itself is one which is stop growing. Same people, same faces, same idea….

So what about renewal through attribution? Well, in attribution, most likely it is your best people who leave the organization. Renewal through attribution is like removing your top 10% cream and replacing them with new people. This is definately not how you should grow an organization.

It is a tough decision, one that makes the environment very competitive. But thats the reality of the world we live in. And thats the same for an organization.

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