W2MI development
W2MI development

Okay, random post about the stupidest thing ever to get excited about. But what the heck:


0 Wrong
1 Well-intentioned
2 Model
3 Inspiring

This is W2MI. It's a simple matrix for evaluating behaviour or performance in relation to any standardso you can use it for anything from setting HR standards to testing religious zealots. Examine any criterion and evaluate the subject's behaviour following the matrix. Zero points for something completely wrong, two points for behaviour that could act as a model for others, and one point for anything in between that is neither wrong nor at model level. The final level, "inspiring", is essentially off the chart—you do not reveal it to the subject unless he or she qualifies for it.


The psychology is simple but brilliant, both for the evaluator and for the evaluated subject. Naturally, nobody wants to be "wrong". This is nice and simple for the evaluator: you don't have to explain why something is wrong. It just is based on the criteria. You can argue about whether or not something should be wrong, but the key point is that you will not argue about the word "wrong". It is worth zero, meaning there is no encouragement whatsoever to engage in this behaviour.


Being graded as "well-intentioned" is encouraging, but innately implies something lacking. Similarly, the evaluator can easily check: if he or she is making excuses for the subject, or is inclined to offer a pass for difficult circumstances, these conditions still fall under this category because the behaviour is not a model to be followed by others (philosophy buffs will note the shout-out to Kant here—this is precisely the idea!).


So wrong behaviour is worth nothing, and well-intentioned behaviour is worth 1 point. Then model behaviour is worth double well-intentioned behaviour. Finally, inspiring behaviour is worth triple well-intentioned behaviour, knocking everything else out of the water.


Inspiring behaviour is that which inspires others to improve themselves, and even inspires the evaluator. Model behaviour itself does not inspire—it's just a good example to follow. Inspiring behaviour encourages others to not only follow a model, but expand on it, explore, and test the limits not only of themselves, but of the model they have aspired to.


4 levels. Evaluate a selection of questions, and boom, you have a rating of your subject based on your criteria. Ideally, you should set your "maximum" score, if you have such a thing, as roughly 10% beyond a perfect "model" score—to get a maximum score, you must be a model in nearly all criteria and inspiring in several. So, for example, if you have 5 questions, the perfect model score is 5 x 2 = 10, so your "maximum" score should be 11 or 12. Again, you don't tell your subject about the "inspiring" level—at least not until they max out on "model" scores and are wondering why they are not at perfect yet. An ideal test would go up to an unneven number, with upwards of 100 points to conceal the impossibility of scoring perfect without inspiring behaviour.


When I first developed this, it was Unexcusable/Excusable/Model/Inspiring. The modified nomenclature was developed with Cedric Julius, and he introduced me to the impossible-to-achieve maximum score concept.


Boring? Maybe. But it will be very interesting to apply.


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Update: Some interesting back-and-forth on this with Amorous Route author Scott Donald on FB. Posted as a series of comments below, originally from Dec. 9-15, 2011.

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Comments: 13
  • #1

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:39)

    I'm finding it difficult to think of an example where you would use this. I only know HR as a skeptic, but my aptitude for psychometrics is reasonable. Can you give me an example? Oh and I love the use of "boom". :D

  • #2

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:39)

    Look at performance in, say, car manufacture. You have a standard Y for applying paint. Observe performance of employee X. Compared to that standard, X's performance was: Wrong/Well-intentioned/Model/Inspiring. In this case well-intentioned would indicate an awareness of the principles to be applied (e.g. evenness of application, amount of paint used), but isn't up to model level. Inspiring would be the rockin' dude who's figured out a superior methodology, has it down to the micrometer for thickness across the board, or has it even in places that even the standard says you can let slide.

  • #3

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:40)

    Right. With you now. Do you think it's corruptible ( both HR managers and staff have a tendency to identify the assessment criteria and then work around it to their advantage. This seems to be a big floor in HR assessment) or do you think thorough assessment definitions will cover this? Once an inspiring level is achieved will this alter the playing field of assessment? Inspiring would suggest a new or modified level of production or style, this would make the previous criteria somewhat redundant. Would this trigger a re-jigging of criteria?

  • #4

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:40)

    Ooh, thanks for forcing me to outline the next step! This is all part of a life-cycle career path system--you start to get chances to move up when you hit enough "inspirationals". It also ensures that you don't just promote people for long service or because you're looking for a way to shunt them to another department. For example, if your car painter develops a system that makes his entire unit better, wouldn't it be natural, if he has enough other positive ratings, to make him a manager of other sections to bring the same results about? (Of course, this is part of a system of criteria--if that is his only skill, he may be stuck where he is for a while, with at least pay rises for his personal efficiency. But the carrot is there--get stats X, Y and Z to Model or Inspiring, and you can move up/change departments/whatever!) If the entire playing field is raised, then yes, it means it's harder to inspire--but that means the level keeps going up! Then the next guy comes along and builds on that system--boom, more growth, everyone wins! Edison didn't build the light bulb in a vacuum--he built off thousands of years of others' inspirations. As for the evaluator breaking the system, you still have to train them, but it does limit the damage that can be done--if your evaluator says the criteria X result was Wrong, that's a big thing to prove. They have to stand by it. If your evaluator is saying junk is inspirational, you have to look at the low standard of your evaluator. No systems is free of the need for checks and balances, and every Wrong and every Inspirational should send a flag through the system. If you want it to be applied fairly, peers should be allowed to rate one another, as well as self-evaluating. The peer evaluation is where you see if people are inspirational! However, you just let them look at A, A+, A-. People will naturally pencil in an A++++++ if they're really impressed by someone, and that's a big flag. Then the evaluator can start examining certain areas for improvement, and the evaluator's supervisor can start questioning if somebody is loved on the floor but hated by management or vice-versa.

  • #5

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:41)

    "Edison didn't build the light bulb in a vacuum" admittedly the filament was in a partial vacuum.

  • #6

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:42)

    One recent example of a problem that could use a re-look, perhaps wit your evaluation proposal, was with the 'incentive-bonus assessment' that one of my( or is it still our?) companies competitors implemented.541-. They were tying their assessment criteria to monthly bonuses for out of classroom activities. If they kept the same standard as before then they would be paid their normal wage. If they did something more and their school would inform their company and they would receive a bonus for that week and then that became the new norm. After this program was implemented several things occurred. First the high achievers were working longer and longer hours because they discovered that this was being recognised as a 'putting in the extra effort (I guess its the closest to your 'inspirational' level). The schools then took advantage of this and used the employee incentive-bonus to do more out-of-hours work well outside their contract boundaries. Their company suffered a poor financial quarter and shareholders were pushing for a boost in profits so HR were forced to raise the incentive bar and also tried to make the "Model" stage bonus dependent. Finally, many of the employees recognized this and decided that the best a approach at a steady work/life balance would be to just do the bare minimum to get by, thus limiting the continual bar raising and hammering down those nails that do more. This last point is based on the "social loafing effect."

  • #7

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:43)

    "Erm... actually, yes he DID build the light bulb in a vacuum..." Brilliant! And true!

  • #8

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:44)

    Valid point about the raised-bar-results-in-longer-hours problem. It's like what happened at McDonald's Japan--when managers complained that they didn't get paid for overtime and sued McD to get it, McD just reduced their base salary to a bare minimum, thus requiring them to work overtime just to get back to their old base rate. However, it also depends on how the system is applied--any system can be applied unethically (look how democracy can result in the tryranny of the majority, while communism, where everyone's meant to be equal, so easily leads to tyranny of the state). The problem with that ALT system was how it was applied--only to one criterion, it seems, and based on input from a single source, which encourages that evaluator to max out its dividends, as we see. You need multiple evaluation points from a variety of perspectives if you want to attach it to pay and promotion. Also, tying it directly to salary results in a dodgy system where model behaviour is only brought out for immediate profit rather than for long-term personal betterment. It essentially creates a bubble economy--like financial managers who can make a lifetime's money in a year, so they don't need to worry about the long-term viability of the system on the whole. Get your bit and get out. It's like using stickers in class, right? If kids only perform for stickers, when will they learn to just enjoy what they're doing? How are they benefitting personally? Is there a long-term goal beyond today's sticker, or do I just grab my sticker and get out? The W2MI system aims to encourage an individual desire for betterment, without immediate reward, but with both personal satisfaction and future promotion held out as possibilities. It aims to be encouraging, but still hold out a sense of inadequacy in the present, implying that "you could be better." When you max out on a good number of those points, congrats--you need the next challenge! The problem with a lot of ALT systems right now is there is no "next challege", so all they can offer is cash.

  • #9

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:45)

    Nice. Clear example. Met criticism. Identified a problem and solved it. . It was kinda like a Platonic dialogue. :D

  • #10

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:45)

    Perhaps a conversation on ALT incentives is for another post. Education could be the best carrot for ALT systems providing a win for both ALT and company. Higher quality teachers, new and higher paying business opportunities for the company and so on.

  • #11

    thekanert (Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:46)

    Does that make me Socrates? I'll have to check any drinks you offer me... Like the education idea. Also like a few other ideas, like increased responsibilities that are expected at certain levels (e.g. duties at meetings, meet & greet new people, etc. A bit of status. Plus actual higher positions and a career path that leads to a teaching path and an office path.)

  • #12

    thekanert (Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:22)

    Come to think of it, "WIIMI" is probably a better name... nice symmetry..

  • #13

    thekanert (Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:23)

    Or rather, WWIMI. Doh.