Thursday, August 19, 2010

Motivation 3.0: doing more at Karos Health

I wrote earlier this week about the importance of purpose in motivating people who are engaged in creative work. Karos Health has a pretty motivating mission that easily provides a sense of purpose.

We go beyond that, though. Karos has a policy of letting employees devote a percentage of their working hours to doing good out in the community at large. That could be achieved by organizing a fund-raising event for a not-for-profit, or building a web presence for a hospice, or serving meals in a homeless shelter — it could be anything. There are only two rules. First, present your idea to the team — not company management, but the entire Karos team. Second, provide updates on your progress with your activity. That’s it.

We truly believe that allowing people to pursue purpose on their own terms, as Dan Pink puts it, is an important path to growing a high performance team.

Does that sound appealing? Check out our careers and get in touch if you think there’s a fit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Motivation 3.0: a sense of purpose

Some time ago I read a book by Dan Pink called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates. It’s a fine read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in understanding how to get the most out of a team (or just out of yourself). If you want to get a taste of the book, have a look at this wonderful illustrated version of a talk that Pink gave to the RSA.

Pink identifies three things that matter to people who are working in creative positions, or positions that don’t just involve repeating the same kinds of tasks again and again.

  • Autonomy. Ideally, over what you do, when you do it, who you do it with, and how you do it.
  • Mastery. Your abilities are finite, but infinitely improvable; improvement demands effort; and mastery can never be fully attained, which is part of the allure.
  • Purpose. Within an organization, use profits to reach purpose, emphasize more than just self-interest, and allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.

At Karos Health, last week, I was vividly reminded of the role that purpose plays.

Karos Health is about improving the quality of health care through information-sharing and collaboration amongst health care stakeholders. Among the things that our products do, for example, is moving diagnostic images like CT scans from a scanner to a radiologist who will read the scan, and moving the resulting diagnosis from that radiologist to the physician who requested the images.

In a meeting with a customer we heard that in many cases their expected turn-around time for having a CT scan read by a radiologist and a result delivered to the requesting physician is under twenty minutes. Why? It isn’t for money-related or market-related reasons. It’s because for a stroke victim waiting to receive treatment, every second counts. That’s a highly motivating purpose for us at Karos.

Obviously purpose isn’t confined to helping save lives. What’s your purpose?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hiring at Karos Health

I haven’t really written much about Karos Health since joining the company a while back. I’m not sure why that’s the case, but I do have something to share today.

Last night Karos Health’s Rick Stroobosscher and I attended a job fair in Milton, Ontario. Organized by Communitech, the event brought several Waterloo Region companies together to meet with job seekers. We were in very fine company with respected stars like Christie Digital, Desire2Learn, and Research In Motion, as well as fellow startups like Kik Interactive.

Rick and I really weren’t sure what to expect at the event. What we found was a well-organized venue with helpful Communitech folks there to help us get oriented. The space was relatively small, which made it easy for job seekers to get to see everyone. And there were a great many job seekers there, with a range of skills, experiences, and interests. Rick and I were busy all night talking with people about what they are looking for and what Karos is about. Happily, we even talked to a few software developers who may be able to help us. We’re looking forward to future Communitech events like this one.

We’re looking for developers at Karos, and down the road perhaps other people. Have a look at our careers page and let us know if you think there’s there’s a fit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Like a truck hauling a load of scrap iron

As I wrote back in May, performance is an important part of a good user experience. The perception of performance is something that a designer can manage by providing appropriate feedback, such as a progress indicator or message. Sometimes, though, the actual performance needs to be managed rather than just the user’s perception of it.

I’ve been thinking about this over the last several weeks in the aftermath of updating my Apple iPhone 3G to iOS 4.

What had been a fine mobile device prior to the update became a sluggish annoyance after I installed iOS 4. In addition to noticeable overall slowness, my iPhone became prone to random screen freezes that lasted four or five seconds or more.

Even though Apple had disabled some of the features in the iOS 4 release when installed on an iPhone 3G model, there were still several remaining enhancements that I enjoyed. While appealing, though, none of them were enough, for me, to make up for the severe performance degradation that accompanied the release.

This past weekend I finally took the plunge and downgraded my iPhone to version 3.1.3 of the OS. As this is something that Apple appears not to want users to do, I used directions that I found in this article at Lifehacker, and they turned out to be clear enough for me to get the job done. The improvement in performance has been dramatic. Under iOS 4 my iPhone felt about as responsive as a flat-bed truck hauling a load of scrap iron. It’s now back to feeling like a small sports car, fleet and nimble and fun to use. I’m happy to sacrifice the iOS 4 features that I now no longer have for the snappy user experience that again defines my iPhone. And that says a lot about the importance of performance to user experience.