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Documentation & Recognition

Background

At Ambientia we value great work. Not just normal grinding but above average performance. At the end of year 2009 I had many discussions during which people stressed about how devalued writing good documentation was at Ambientia. Compulsory stuff was done as easily as possible but most of the rest was scheduled for later – and never done.

The game

Part of our culture is that we try to do as much as possible on-line because we have six offices and our employees are a lot on the move. Confluence is our water cooler. Therefore, I planned and devised a simple monthly prise for the best documentation related work done that month. It was agreed that I would have a year to prove that the prise would add a positive impact to our culture. The rules were really simple:

  1. I posted around monthly a question to our confluence asking for nominations for the prise.
  2. Anyone could nominate any work which had been done during the previous month.
  3. I waited a week or more for the nominations to show up.
  4. I selected the lucky winner among the nominees and tried to reason why the one was selected.
  5. The winner was presented a modest monetary prise and loads of encouragement on our Confluence. Simple!

The prise ends

The prise ended in January 2011. I organised a simple survey about effects of the prise. Of course, I was rightly criticised for not being prompt enough with the posts. Apart from that, there was only positive feedback about the whole method.

Future

This story has an happy ending. We decided to make the habit permanent part of our monthly routines. Also, we picked one great idea from the open ended questions of the survey. Somebody had suggested that we should do similar prise for any actions that have improved working atmosphere at Ambientia. Therefore, we have now two prises running monthly. How cool is that?

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