user-icon Dominik Maximini
13. February 2017
timer-icon 4 min

Our Management 3.0 Experience: Kudo Cards & Kudo Box

We are living Management 3.0 for some time now, and want to share our experience with it. Take a look at this older post, if you want to get a brief overview. Today, we will share our insights on using Kudo Cards and our Kudo Box.

When we started experimenting with Management 3.0, Kudo Cards was basically the first practice we introduced. We looked at the website, printed out the cards  and just went for it. We did not ask any critical questions or wonder if everybody would get their “fair share of praise”. We just started courageously. We placed a stack of printed and cut cards on a sideboard in our team room and waited to see what would happen. As the team’s manager I wanted to lead by example and tried to write some cards every week. This led to a problem: Where should I place the written cards? Without a better option, I handed them directly to the recipients. They smiled – and shared that we could improve the whole experience by also introducing a Kudo Box. Within a couple of days, this box magically appeared in the team room:

We used it, and then thought further about when to open it for maximum effect. Reading into the Management 3.0 practice, we wanted to do it publicly and trustingly. Since we organize ourselves around Scrum, we chose our monthly Sprint Review meeting to open the box and read out the cards to the team and all stakeholders present at that moment. Again, we did not ask any of the “what if” questions like “What if a card is negative and your boss hears in the Review?”. We just trusted each other to handle such a potential incident professionally.

The impact was tremendous. Suddenly, all our stakeholders, including the management board, wanted to write cards as well. We taught them how to use them, had a larger amount printed on better quality paper, and distributed the cards in hallways and offices all over the company.

At first, we didn’t notice anything happening. We thought the mental barrier to trying something new had stopped them from experimenting. So we focused on our own team and discussed what to do with the Kudo Cards now that we had received them in the Review meeting. We decided for maximum transparency and placed them on the outward facing side of our team room door. All cards landed there, shouting out to the world whatever the card proclaimed. Within a couple of months, the door wasn’t big enough to hold all cards, so we started using the adjacent wall as well.

A month after we had distributed the Kudo Cards across the company, we found some in our Kudo Box that did not come from our own team. In addition, we found some that were written by the team, but were addressing people outside the team. We kept our approach, read them out in the Sprint Review and handed them over to the recipients or hung them up on our door/wall display when they were for one of our team.

People liked that. They liked that a lot. Every single card we handed over to anybody ended at a door, a computer screen, or an office wall. This was the spark other teams needed and it caught on. Today, this practice is used by about half the company.

Some employees even introduced a digital version of this in our internal wiki.

Today, Kudo Cards are a well established practice at our company. Even after more than a year, nothing negative has happened – nobody felt treated unfairly, the tool wasn’t used in an inappropriate way and the acceptance is growing further every day.

When facilitating Management 3.0 workshops, I often meet people who fear something bad could happen due to these cards. In our experience, this is a logical but rather academic threat. We have not encountered such effects in practice, neither in our own team, nor at customers. If you are worrying, my advice is to run an experiment and just try it.

Our newest experiment is bonusly. This platform allows us to share virtual credits and offer non-monetary rewards for demonstrating our values. We are only one month into the experiment, but what we see so far is a cannibalizing effect: Team members like bonusly better than Kudo cards, which results in less Kudos and more bonusly “Novas”. This might be the glittering shine of something new – we will continue the experiment and see what happens…

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