What is Hexmos Karma?
Hexmos Karma is an expertise-weighted voting system evolved for benefiting the participants of the Software Industry. Hexmos Karma helps org members vote on other org members on a day to day basis. The system benefits both employers and employees with raising standards in hiring, learning, social interaction, technical expertise and achievement recognition.
Hexmos Karma has evolved based on insights from a diverse set of sources such as: baseball sabermetrics, economics, political voting systems, philosophy and last but not least, personal experiences and convictions.
The benefits of investing in Hexmos Karma for the Software Industry are to:
- Create team focus: shift focus from 10x engineers/leaders to 10x teams, from Jira-style task-orientation to people orientation
- Hire based on verified testimony: access an additional reliable input in the hiring decision making process
- Emphasise day-to-day conduct quality: regardless of academic background, the ultimate test is day to day conduct and performance
- Quickly amplify strengths & address weaknesses: use voting data to introspect day to day & based on that, coach people, pair up people intelligently for more beneficial learning & results
- Balanced spirit of cooperation & competition: human history teaches that excess competition leads to low quality of life and excess cooperation leads to inefficiencies; In Karma, mutual recognition of qualities leads to collaboration, while the points based system creates a healthy competition among individuals & teams.
- Honour capability & expertise: In democratic voting, there’s no difference between expert vote vs layman vote; however Karma algorithmically amplifies or constrains the magnitude of each vote based on the individual’s recognized expertise
- Secure employee reputation: as employees move from place to place, the problem of “reputation nullification” or the need to establish credibility again from ground up shows up -- Hexmos Karma works against the phenomenon through retaining identity of the individuals across organisations.
Let us look at each of the benefits in more detail below.
Create Team Focus (vs task/superstar focus)
“One-to-one, many Chinese can match the Japanese, whether it is at Chinese chess or the game of Go. But in a group, especially a production team in a factory, they are difficult to beat.”
-- Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father
- Software as an industry has focused on individuals more than on interaction between individuals, the dynamics of teams and departments. An extreme case of such individual focus is the phenomenon of glorifying 10x engineers or superstar employees. However, while attention is focused on the individual accomplishments, the more important group outcomes (team, department, org) lose focus.
- The focus must shift from 10x engineers to 10x engineering teams.Moneyball proved that despite having seemingly less skilled individuals, an appropriately aligned team can outperform a team made up of extremely skilled individuals who are also badly coupled.
- Another observation in the industry is of excess task-focus. Jira has become more than software, but is a philosophy for conducting teamwork. The downside of the Jira approach is that instead of continously training people's strengths and reducing their weaknesses, the focus goes to the static, inanimate task. While the task is important, only an empowered group can get it done. The source or cause of a task getting done is an empowered group, and hence the focus must shift to strengthening the cause, that is the team or department. People focus is necessary.
- Hexmos Karma, through its continous voting mechanism helps people appreciate each other, request adjustments in behavior in a polite way creating a healthy people focus.
Hire based on verified testimony (vs spot-checking, eloquence)
- The hiring pipeline depends more on on-the-spot checking, placing trust on spoken words and making risky, quick judgements
- Good speakers in general may override competent desirable people, due to eloquence rather than skill in the particular aspect they are getting hired for.
- To counter spot-checking and bias for favoring eloquence, a firm footing on validated testimoney is necessary.
Emphasise day-to-day conduct quality (vs academic credentials or personal assertions)
What it takes to do a job will not be learned from management courses. It is principally a matter of experience, the proper attitude, and common sense — none of which can be taught in a classroom... Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management systems, get things done.
-- Hyman G. Rickover, US Admiral who built the world’s first nuclear submarine in a mere 3 years
- There is an excess focus on academics and insufficient focus on the quality of daily conduct of the individual. It is easy to fake good conduct for a day, rather than to behave creditably for years and decades. Key question: Does an MBA from a top institution give sufficient guarantee that a person can be trusted to run a given business competently?
- The solution to the trust issue is to put people in positions of responsibility and later check whether they successfully fulfill the responsibilties or not.
- Hexmos Karma as a system helps in the gradual build up of trust because the votes are guaranteed to be genuine, have been accumulated to a period of time, and the sources are multiple people in close contact with the person in question.
Rapidly amplify strengths & address weaknesses (vs rely on manager memory/1:1s/quarterly reviews)
- When seemingly more urgent things come up, developing people’s capabilities tends to get sidelined from the agenda. This can be countered through the Hexmos Karma coaching system.
- The traditional feedback cycles are either weekly 1:1s in combination with quarterly or 6-monthly reviews. Especially the longer term reviews tend to rely on manager’s memory or badly kept progress records leading to overvaluation of recent achievements and undervaluation or forgetting of older achievements. Moreover, once out of context, it is difficult for the concerned individual to make amends and improvements.
- However, if feedback pours in an hourly basis, as is the case with Hexmos Karma, then adjustments and improvements happen faster, while the longer term reviews can have a greater foundation in recorded testimony in the Hexmos Karma system.
Balanced spirit of cooperation & competition (vs excess cooperation or competition)
The peaceful & cooperative societies can be overcome by aggressive & bellicose societies. Hence a proportion of aggression has to be nurtured, for the purpose of self defence. However, for science, technology and the arts to flourish, for a peaceful and meaningful existence, a trustful cooperation between people and groups is necessary.
- Common sense, a look at human history, and academic study all point to the conclusion that human beings exhibit both cooperation and competition under various conditions, and the proportion between cooperation & competition has a big influence on outcomes
- First of all, both these elements show up at multiple levels: individual, team, department, organisation, state, country.
- Hexmos Karma can be used to study the play between these two elements from the individual level to the organisational level.
- The capability to praise and boost colleagues is a way to nurture cooperation, whereas the HKPs (Hexmos Karma Points) and leaderboards create a sense of competition.
- By observing the data, one can tweak an org culture to obtain the appropriate balance between cooperation & competition.
Honour capability & expertise (vs either emphasising too much authority or disregarding all expertise)
- Non-digital voting tends to veer towards populism, towards something like “one person, one vote” system where one lacking expertise on a given topic can have an outsized effect on outcomes. The Karma system automatically amplifies or constrains the effect of votes based on the recorded competencies of the individual, bringing in necessary balance between freedom of speech and accumulated domain expertise.
Secure employee reputation (vs resetting & regaining of reputation on every job change)
- The skill graph and HKP (Hexmos Karma Points), vouched for by a secure system can protect employee reputation throughout their careers. As employees move from palace to place, gaining credibility in the new workplace will become much easier.
In summary following is the list of problems that Hexmos Karma tries to counter:
- 10x engineer or Superstar employee or Task focus -> 10x Team focus
- Hiring based on spoken claims alone -> Use Hexmos Karma for verified testimony
- Rely on academic credentials or eloquence to set reputation -> Factor in testimonies on day-to-day conduct quality to set reputation
- Rely on 1:1s/manager assessments/poorly maintained docs to assess/promote -> Factor in an additional input as validated testimonies and voting data from Karma
- Veer into excess of collaboration or competition -> Keep a strict watch on the proportion of collaboration to competition & address imbalances
- Excess respect or disregard for expertise (in tech/finance/etc) -> Hexmos Karma’s automated amplification/constrain of votes based on validated history of individual’s HKPs
- Resetting & regaining of reputation on every job change -> Let employees carry proof of their conduct & capabilities wherever they go
Two additional points to conclude:
- Hexmos Karma doesn’t make recommendations, but merely makes available to analysis and diagnosis, parts of the dynamics of the workplace. It is a stethoscope for a doctor to check the patient, not the doctor themselves. It is not a silver bullet, but merely an instrument and aid.
- All sorts of human virtues can be voted for and the results are generic in nature. This allows for extending the Karma system to fields other than Software.