fighting the lack of good ideas

a new blog!

My wife and I have just started a new blog together, Growing in Faith and Family, to document the process of adoption which we have just started.

We have chosen Ethiopia as our source country, and have begun the 15-20 month process (including wait time) to enlarge our family via adoption.

We would be happy for anyone to leave a comment of encouragement or personal experience if you are also an adoptive family.

Thanks for joining us on this journey.

the pros and cons of “gamification”

Slashdot has a post on gamification in the workplace today.

One of the myriad replies was from a poster, gomoX, who was pushing his company’s gamified tech support tool ( I’m all for product placement and pushing when it’s relevant (and here it most certainly was), but I don’t like the general concepts in that particular tool.

gomoX started well, too:

Bad system:
* 10 points for solving a ticket
* 1 point por replying to a ticket
* 4 points for chipping into another tech’s tickets (allegedly to help out)
* -20 points for reopened ticket
* -100 points for SLA missed

but then goes into describing (and then having shredded by many responders) their “Good system”:

* 1 point for solving a ticket
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those tickets
* -100 points for SLA missed
* 200 points bonus for doing 10 5-star tickets in a row
* 1000 points bonus for doing those 10 5-star tickets in a row in less than one hour

It even starts to become fun! And if you plug gamification throughout the whole system, even this (taken from a “Knowledge Week” quest that lasted through a specific week in an InvGate Service Desk instance):
* 10 points for creating a Knowledge Base article
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those articles
* 20 points for having the article you created used by other techs to solve a ticket
* 50 points for having the article you created used by customers to figure out the ticket themselves

I’ve written in the past about support organizations, and have a guide on effective support cases available, too. And I stand by my previous assertions that “gaming” and the metrics mindset are a Bad Thingâ„¢ – when they’re the BASIS of management reviews, promotions, etc.

The big problem with the InvGate concept is stated so cheerfully, I had to read it twice:

You get a performance metric in the amount of points an agent gathered during a period of X … It even has a “ka-ching” sound effect when you get points!

Seriously? a ‘”ka-ching” sound effect’? Who does this encourage? Certainly not any of the professionals I’ve ever worked with!

Maybe there are groups for which this would work – but none that I would want to deal with over anything important or business critical.

There are ways in which gentle, informal “competition” can be a Good Thingâ„¢ … but those are few and far between in the professional environment of support work.

A friend of mine pointed me at a [potentially] NSFW site with “badges” you can earn that was pretty funny (excluding the cussing).

on twitter and the police

Dave Winer had an interesting take on the recent Twitter-NYPD flare-up.

Personally, the thought of any government organization demanding records without a warrant is abhorrent.

However, since the entire point of Twitter is to make your tweets public … then what is there to subpoena? They’re all out there – visible to the world… Unless the user has deleted them (and, from my understanding, they are “real” deletes (unlike facebook “deletes” which may or may not go anywhere)).

So, NYPD – why are you not just looking at the tweets that are available publicly? Why are you trying to demand data that may or may not exist, and without a warrant?

Lastly, to Mr Winer’s comment that “the government has no business investing taxpayer dollars in private companies”: there’s a couple big problems therein. First, since it was in reference to the Library of Congress, we should make sure that in addition to not “investing” in archiving tweets, they also not invest in archiving books, journals, newspapers, etc – after all, those are also coming from “private companies”. Second, if the government shouldn’t be investing taxpayer dollars in private companies, then where, exactly, do you propose the “government” get what it needs to operate? By fiat? By dictatorial claim? No – those aren’t good public relations moves. The government needs to obtain the services and goods it needs to continue its functions from private industry (or we need to abandon this whole ‘capitalism’ thing and go for a pure central economy wherein all produced goods and services are provided by the government).

some great finds – it’s sorta like Visio, but free, and web-based. – like webex, including conference calling and file and screen sharing.

Qama – a calculator that doesn’t give an answer until you provide a “reasonable” guess.

Udacity – a free computer science program.

Urbanchickens – dedicated to raising chickens in “non-traditional” environments (like cities).