Thursday, March 26, 2009

Robert Ludlum: The Prometheus Deception

Just finished reading this book, finally. I used to read voraciously when I was in school. Nowadays with the distractions of technology, I'd be lucky to start reading a book even. In the past year though, I've tried to read more books.

One of my current preferred series of books are written by Robert Ludlum. He writes spy thrillers and is the author of The Bourne Identity. Incidentally, I have not read all of his Bourne
books yet.

I think Robert Ludlum uses italics a little too liberally but his books are a pretty good read. Thus far I think I have read about 6-7 of his books. I still have about 15 more to go!

The Prometheus Deception is a pretty convoluted story. It writes about deception within deception and it can get so confusing you start forgetting who the 'good' guys and the 'bad' guys are. It is about a covert agent who gets retired and then one day he is told that the covert agency whom he has been working for was actually set up by an enemy nation. It's also the longest Robert Ludlum book I've read thus far.

The following is an excerpt of the text on the back of the book:

For years Nick Bryson was the top field in the Directorate, an ultra secret US intelligence agency, until a disastrous operation forced him to retire under a new identity. But now the CIA tell him that the Directorate was not what it seemed - and that, with the Cold War over, it seems to be preparing for a world-threatening new coup...

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Legend of Chun-Li

I went to watch this movie with my friend, I wasn't expecting too much so I wasn't disappointed.

I can't say that it was a great movie or that you must watch it but I guess it's a movie that you might not think you wasted your money on.

Obviously the story doesn't make much sense if you think about continuity from the movie to the video games (I'm talking about characters who died in the movie) but I just take it as it is and don't think too much about it.

Chen Zhi Cai actually has a substantial role in this movie, I wonder how he landed it.

This movie is about Chun-Li's past before the time of the Street Fighter II video game. Chun-Li was my favourite character of that game so I definitely had to watch this movie. I am surprised that they chose Chun-Li to make a movie out of, but I guess out of all the characters, she was the one with the most intriguing backstory as alluded to during the end of game credit rolls.

There isn't much plot really, so I shan't even hint to any of it as it'll really spoil your show should you decide to watch it.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rats in the Pantry

Well, our building actually does have a rat problem, but so far my office is clear. I don't think that will last long though, since people keep eating in the office but that is ok if you don't eat stuff that has strong smells and throw the containers out of the office area afterwards. It's those that throw the containers in the office bins. Still, it is usually ok because the cleaning lady comes in the late morning after breakfast time and clears the bins. Just the other day though, someone from another branch had MacDonald's breakfast and dumped the bag in one of the office bins. I found the evidence the next day.... sheesh. Rat magnet!

Anyway, the "Rats" in my post title refer to another type of rats. We've gotten some money for some workplace improvement projects so I went out to buy some drink mixes. We've got Milo, tea, honey chrysanthemum, some kind of organic soy bean drink and Nescafe Premium 3-in-1 Gold coffee. It turns out that the coffee is really good stuff. we have people from other offices coming in and snitching our coffees and Milos. I don't really mind them, but it seems that they are consuming a fair amount of our drinks supply!

My office is really small so our consumption is low, therefore by comparison these 'rats' consume a lot of our supply lol.

Oh and try leaving Ferrero Rocher around, those will be gone. The whole tray.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Job Satisfaction, Rewards and Recognition.

This topic seems to have popped up around me quite often recently. It seems to be one of the hotter HR issues, at least at my workplace.

When you think about this topic, what comes to your mind? Monetary rewards? Verbal praise? Awards like Staff of the Month?

I hadn't given it all that much serious thought till my friend brought this topic up again yesterday. Basically, her friend and herself stand on different sides of the fence on this issue. One feels that she doesn't get any praise for jobs well done but punished for mistakes whereas my friend feels that she does not require any praise to do her job well.

If I understand my friend correctly, her rationale is that she feels that she is being paid to do her job well and she enjoys her work therefore she does not require any praise or reward to encourage her to do her job well.

Her friend's gripe is about what I call the Negative Reinforcement System where you do not get rewarded for jobs well done but instead you are punished for mistakes. Perhaps most people would prefer a Positive Reinforcement System where good work is recognised or rewarded.

Perhaps some people would argue that we are all paid to do a job so we should do a good one at that. Some others may argue that I can just do a job but I need not do it well should I not have chosen to do so, as such my efforts should be recognised.

However, if you think about it really hard, you will come to realise that both these people actually want the same thing.

I was thinking today about how some people need rewards and praise while others seemingly do not. I came to the conclusion that the concept of 'Reward' needs to be redefined. Once it is redefined, it is then easy to see why the two of them actually want the same thing.

They don't want the same thing, you may be thinking.

That's where my amazing skill of throwning random smoke bombs comes in handy!

Now let's look at case 1: Person who needs praise or rewards for a job well done.

This is an obvious case of someone needing rewards or recognition of some kind. They have already said it up front, how ambiguous can it get? Some people would like monetary rewards and some may like praise. Praise may come in the form of a simple pat on the back, or a staff award.

Conclusion: Reward is a positive value.

Case 2: Person who does not need any reward and feels that they are paid to do their job well and should not need additional rewards just because they did a good job.

Now, you may think that such people are workaholics (and I do think so actually), or that they are just plain silly for working their lives away for the company.

Let's look into this just a little more. Put ourselves in the shoes of these people.

1) They feel that they are paid to do a good job.
Therefore, when they do a good job, they feel good about it. They feel that they have fulfilled their set goals. They have achieved something important to them. Key point: They feel good.

2) They enjoy their work.
If they truely and thoroughly enjoy their work, then the process itself is an enjoyment for them. Slackers like me will never understand this but as we Teochews always say 一样米养百样人。
Key point: They feel good.

Now, as you can see the key points for the 2 little scenarios that I set is the same. They feel good. So what do the people who want rewards feel when they get rewarded? They feel good. That feeling is a reward.

See what I mean about the fact that these 2 people actually wanting the same thing? It is merely that one expresses it in more tangible terms and the other expressed it in more intangible terms.

Since my brain was working overtime today, I got to thinking about something else as well. For the people who feel that since they are paid to do a job, they should not need additional rewards, to what extent will they consider something as part of their job? If something that is not in their job scope is given to them, will they still consider it as part of what they were paid for and do it well without expectation of additional rewards or recognition of any kind?


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