A Better World of Work

Building a culture of high performance, engagement and trust with Rahul Daswani, Head of Partnerships at Open Government Products

September 12, 2022 Veldhoen + Company Season 1 Episode 4
A Better World of Work
Building a culture of high performance, engagement and trust with Rahul Daswani, Head of Partnerships at Open Government Products
Show Notes Transcript

Rahul Daswani was the founding Head of People and Culture at Open Government Products (OGP) in Singapore.  A civil servant for almost a decade and former McKinsey consultant, he's an intrapreneur, designing and implementing initiatives to build capabilities and culture. His experience over the last 12 years includes founding or being in the early stages of five government start-ups: Open Government Products, Strategy Group in Singapore's Prime Minister's Office, SkillsFuture Singapore, Ethiopia's Agricultural Transformation Agency and Papua New Guinea's Climate Change Development Authority.

In this  episode, Rahul tells us how OGP built a culture of high performance, engagement and trust over the last two and a half years, first with remote, then hybrid and remote working.  He also shares his strategies behind sustaining a culture of high performance as the organisation experience rapid growth in a short period.

Listen now to our podcast chat with Rahul Daswani, Head of Partnerships at Open Government Products now.

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Hardeep Matharu 
Hello, everyone. Welcome to A Better World of Work podcast by Veldhoen and Company. Today, we've got a very exciting session where we are joined by a guest of ours, Rahul Daswani. He is the founding Head of the People and Culture division at Open Government Products, OGP in Singapore. He has been a civil servant for almost a decade and a former McKinsey consultant. He's both an intrapreneur, and also designs and implement initiatives to build capabilities and the culture within not just his own government agency, but also working with agencies for other countries. He is a regular speaker of panels so we are very fortunate to have an accomplished speaker with us today. So Rahul welcome. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Rahul Daswani 
Thanks. Great to be here. 

Hardeep Matharu 
Maybe you could tell us about your own journey on how you ended up working in people and capable development there at OGP?

Rahul Daswani 
eah, sure.  I started my career at McKinsey as you mentioned and I really liked the discipline of analytical problem solving. I studied mechanical engineering but I realised I didn't really feel passionate about cars or automotive industry. I really liked the world of ideas and people. Going into consulting was a nice step to get the toolkit as the skillset to speak to a variety of people at different levels, and interact with people that would not have access to typically fresh out of university. So that was nice but I felt that as a consultant, you are always on the outside. I wondered what it would be like on the inside to try and make change happen rather than provide advice, especially since consulting was my first job. 

I began to be interested in public sector because the public sector has drastic potential to increase and make people's lives much better and it can impact many people. That is a sector became interested in and I ended up doing work in education and climate change for the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia. Then I moved as a secondee to the government of Papua New Guinea to test out am I cut out to do the work rather than giving advice. Can I play this other role that seems more intriguing to me?

I spent one and a half years there building the office of climate change and really found that it is an impactful work. It can be difficult, bureaucratic and challenging but if you get the work done, the material impact on people's lives was reducing the likelihood of erosion, flooding, reducing deforestation. So, real tangible impact on both the environment and people feeling safe, but also protecting them from the impact of climate change tomorrow. That was really, really powerful for me and made me want to devote my career into public service. I didn't have any academic background in Public Service, so I went and did a Masters in Public Policy at Harvard to supplement that practical experience that I had on the ground. 

Since I moved back home in 2014, I have been working with the Singapore government. I started off in the traditional strategy roles. I was a Futurist at the Centre for Strategic Futures, which is a think tank in the Prime Minister's office, thinking about what the future might look like in 20 years and thinking about policy responses that we could do today to prepare ourselves and avert bad futures, and move towards better futures. So that was cool but it was too similar to consulting. You are on the outside with no leverage, you need to persuade people and you get good at compelling narratives but ultimately, you are wrestling with people who have problems today that need to work on so it's not easy to do. 

I spent two years at the Ministry of Home Affairs marrying those two things, leading the futures unit and also holding on to a portfolio of resources. That was nice because it was really about how we use labour manpower, budget, money and land to influence the direction of the Ministry. This Ministry is in charge of the Singapore Police Force, the Civil Defence, Immigration, Narcotics and Prison Services, which is a really large ministry and a really large scope. To be able to marry both on the idea of what we want in a future, which is more technology, less reliance on labour and higher security. That is something you definitely do not want to compromise on in Singapore and how do you do that while making sure the resource used is not overbearing. That was really nice marrying the two. Then I began to think, in Singapore, we are often stuck solving problems that are interesting for us. In the grand scheme of things they tend to be at the margins because things are generally speaking pretty good, so we want to solve things at the margins. I began to look for opportunities to more radically have transformative impact so I identified a couple of them. 

One of the key ones I feel is people development. Often in many organisations, whether it is public or private sector, the focus tends to be bottom line or immediate KPIs for that year.  People do not invest enough in long term organisational development which yields long term results because they're not there to pay the price or reap the rewards of long term implications. That's kind of human nature to focus more on the present which is obviously the case in my time already at the Centre for Strategic Futures. I thought there is a huge opportunity here to impact the future, perform better, and do better. As a result, the public good outcomes will really be fantastic because we have people who are really levelled up in in their competencies, skills and motivation. The work that they do and impact they are going to have will be much bigger. 

I began to search for opportunities where I could drastically transform people development in government as a whole. One of the challenges with having a really competent government as Singapore is known to have, it’s not easy to get people to take in different points of view. That is a struggle because everybody feels they are competent. You cannot just argue somebody into doing something, you have to demonstrate that this is possible and it is a better alternative. That is why I became the Founding Head of People and Culture to build a model, demonstrate and show the outcomes. Number one, there is a better way of doing things. Number two to see that it is realistic to build it because I just built it and number three, here are the outcomes. Let's talk about how we can help you to adapt some of this to your context so that you can see radical outcomes. This is what my current position is, the Head of Partnerships is really about supporting other parts of government to adapt these practices to make their organisations high performing. So that's how I ended up where I am.

Hardeep Matharu 
Well, thanks, Rahul. It is interesting. Of course, when we spoke before, I always notice a lot of similarities because also being a consultant before I came into corporate roles and then eventually decided to look at people development as my main area of focus. I definitely understand what you've mentioned about wanting to shift away from the advisory role to doing the actual work and I can definitely relate to that. I also find it very interesting, as you've mentioned. I don't know if you would call it a downside, but having a very competent government, like you said, in some ways, lots of things worked already so it is kind of difficult to come in and say, let's make some adjustment, and let's improve it, sharpen our sword. Let's say, because if it's not broke, why fix it sort of thing. I’m curious a bit about that element there. How do you overcome that that challenge? Indeed, people might be doing things that work, how do you come in and challenge to say well, we could do this better? What are the approaches that you take to be able to get that buy in where you need it?

Rahul Daswani 
I would there are three main things. I think the first is maybe a peculiarity of the Singapore government, or maybe not. So the first is, you don't outright tell somebody that things are broken because people do not like to hear that. One of the ways in which you could come in, for example, which I do often is say, hey, the way that you are working right now was great for the time that you started working in that way. The kind of paper forms that you use, the drawings and templates they use were great for that time and that period but through no fault of yours, times have changed, and the environment that you're in have changed. Now we need to figure out what is the suitable modern for this era, for this particular context that we're in. That's something people can get behind as they do not have to be defensive anymore. 

People often feel like hey, I'm responsible for the way things are and if you attack me, I have to defend. which can make people not want to change and just want to defend their status quo. If you say hey, actually, you did great, for that time and a lot of it is about framing. 

As you probably know, it's framing that there's no blame to be placed anywhere. We're really focused on the common goal and we really want to focus people on hey, let's just focus on the goal ahead and what to do that can make things better. You want to do it in a way that doesn't make them be on the opposing side of you. You want to put yourself on the same side as them and say that's really what you want. That's kind of the starting point to say we're all on the same side. We both want what's better for the country. We both believe this will make the country better. Let's figure out a way to do this right, move forward to focus on the on the future and less on the past.  

The second is the reality of being in any government is hierarchy matters and top down sponsorship matters. You’re going to need to get senior sponsorship. There's no running away from that. You need to get senior level buy-in. The question is what is the best way to do it. Whether it is compelling arguments, an evidence that you have, selling the context of that agency and why this particular solution is suitable for them at this juncture and portfolio. Whether it's managing risk and mitigating that by saying hey, here's a small pilot, we are bounding the risk to this level and so you don't have to worry about things going south that might adversely impact your whole ministry or your whole organisation. 

Thinking from a leadership standpoint and getting leadership buy-in and figuring out also things like who are progressive leaders that you might want to start with to do more radical things, and not approaching people who might come from a conservative background, in terms of where they come from. For example, in the Ministry of Home Affairs, if you are responsible for police and prison services, you may not want to be so aggressive in redoing how your whole agency operates because you have real impact that can happen really soon. But, there may be innovative parts within or outside of those ministries that can be more agile and can these be the first ones that you might want to try and go ahead with? The mechanisms to convince senior level people to sponsor actual projects is critical and that is the second thing to solve, to be able to make an impact. 

The final one is the reality of being a senior decision maker is what you are doing a lot of the time is making decisions. you are not responsible. You're not going to be involved in the follow through. These things, because of their nature, or being long term and often very difficult to measure, require people with passion and drive to push them and follow them through. Even when you have the first two points, alone these are necessary but insufficient. You can have the best arguments and senior level sponsors, but if you have no one who is passionate about driving the projects, it's not going to work. 

You also need to figure out who are the people who can drive and are interested in driving projects, corral them and create a community for them. Sometimes, people just need a place to vent and know that they are not alone in the challenges that they face. Sometimes people want support, guidance and advice so having a community that they can rely on to mutually support each other is really, really helpful. Figuring out who those people are, who are passionate, young and driven, but also have enough either formal or informal authority to be able to move people from one place to another is really critical because that is the third key ingredient in making change happen. All these three elements are necessary and unfortunately, you cannot do one without the other. It is about sequencing and getting the things in line so that all three of these elements are present. Then, you would have a much higher likelihood of projects succeeding. 

Hardeep Matharu 
Yeah, that's really good point as you mentioned - their role. indeed, all of the work we do with any of our clients, be it public sector or private sector, the senior buy-in, being able to corral it, at the same time maintain it and make it easy for the senior leaders to make decisions where they need to. Like you said, that is what their job is which is to make decisions. 

I think one thing that we have noted a lot of work that we do in a hybrid environment is how hard it is to be able to make decisions happen in a smooth way. Previously, you might assume that if you have got a decision to make, you just go in and you ask the leaders in person and that can help to avoid a lot of the friction or some of the things that might hold you back. If you are asking for a decision but not being in the same place, it becomes a little bit more challenging as well. Indeed, being able to manage that is super important. As you've said as well, it's very crucial to maintain that. I'm curious actually, when you think about some of the work that you've done within OGP, what would you say have been your biggest wins, the ones that you feel hey, you know what, I as well as my team, indeed, were able to make an adjustment that we are really proud of. Maybe you could tell us a bit about that.

Rahul Daswani 
One of the first things I did in in OGP was radically transform how performance management is done. Specifically, performance management is often done in a very subjective way. There really isn't necessarily an objective way of doing it. It's very subjective. One, it's done in a relative way as opposed to an absolute way so you measure people relative to each other rather than to an external scale. Then you do it in a way that incorporates a lot of other factors. 

For example, a common one is this idea of potential, and it's often, again not defined really well other than demonstrating performance. These three things really made it unfair for somebody experiencing or getting a performance review. This is not just my experience but the experience of many people. Not only is it bad from experiential point of view from performance development. What it means is when I am thinking about my own growth and competency development, it is unclear where I should focus my time precisely because this seems like such a subjective experience. It's kind of a luck of the draw. It depends who you are going to be pitted against and you have no control over that. There is no real objective thing to hold you against. If there is no real objective, then how do I decide what is best for me to learn. 

When there is no real data, you'll have a situation where sometimes people are really great at managing upwards, and informing the managers but not necessarily collaborate. In fact, the relative model, especially if you use a bell curve or quota system, this incentivises collaboration because you need somebody to perform worse than you for you to perform well.  

Hardeep Matharu 
Yeah. All right. 

Rahul Daswani 
So you are actually incentivised to push people down, which is one of the reasons why the 360 review is not popular in such systems. It's a mutually reinforcing circle where you get less data because you are not confident the data will actually be useful. That was something that I thought would have drastic potential to make things better if it was completely redesigned. 

The elements of the system that I designed have number one, you have a clear objective way of measuring performance that is absolute. We have career ladders. We call it career schemas but they are basically career ladders that describe for every level, for every role,  what is the expected competency and the impact that you are expected to have? If you are a Software Engineer and you want to move to Senior Software Engineer, what are the difference in competency. For an engineer, you write some code with guidance and solve a certain level of problems but not complex problems. Whereas if you are a senior software engineer, an independent individual contributor, you can leave on the pitcher, you can figure out how to code, write or debug it, solve complex problems and so on when you need. You think about the architecture of the entire product so on and so forth.

It's pretty clear on what needs to happen, what kind of competencies and experience you need to progress. That's the first thing that we build. I didn't approach this alone because I don't have the technical expertise to write this. We built it in conjunction with the engineers doing the work and have a sense of what work needs to be done. Also, we want to compare this externally so we went to Facebook, Google, Apple and Netflix. We said hey, we are writing this up, what does yours look like? Can you share them? Some of them did with us but some of them said yeah, we cannot share them but if you send us yours, we can comment on it. So we send ours to them.  

The advantage of doing was, if we consider and we do consider FANG our competitors, then what we can for our colleagues is that a senior software engineer at OGP is equivalent to a senior software engineer at Facebook. If you feel this pressing need to go out there and say I need FANG experience. I'm not sure how this stacks up. I can tell you definitively that this stacks up because we are using similar competencies and this has borne out. When people do leave OGP for different places like Amazon, Grab and Tik Tok, they end up either getting equivalent or more senior positions than what they have at OGP which is testament to the fact that this career schemas is legitimate. 

The fact that people see that, for them it's like actually I don't need to go out. It resulted in higher retention rates because people who saw people leaving realised I can leave after three or four or five years. It doesn't matter because my progression at OGP is equivalent to my progression outside and so I would rather be working for public good than other kinds of problem. So that is a secondary benefit. Really, it's about having this objective career ladder which is great. It's about moving away from relative rankings because we do want to increase collaboration. It's really, really important. 

Having this absolute scale allows us to move away from relative rankings because we have something else to benchmark people against, rather than each other. We still calibrate for consistency to make sure nobody is having advantage or disadvantage by having a particular manager. Managers have to justify why they rate somebody a particular level and still own that decision. The final thing is we use concrete data. Because we are free from having the quota system, now people have no incentive to mark people down. We are like why don't you give not just developmental feedback, which is more common, such as what is this person doing well and where to improve, but also evaluate the feedback.  

Hardeep, let's say you are a product manager and I would rate you based on the product manager career schema, where do you think you are at? Are you product manager, are you a senior, or are you a lead product manager? I would have the descriptors to be able to make a reasonably informed decision on where you are.

Now, the manager has not just qualitative data but also quantitative data, which is helpful in their decision-making or levelling a particular person at a particular point. That has been really helpful. I don't have to rely on some theoretical idea of what your potential might be. How are you performing and are you performing to the next level? Let me rate you there and you get, in turn, the benefits of promotion or bonus which are also very specifically defined. The definition of salary points rather than salary ranges means that we avoid a lot of the potential for bias such as gender, racial bias or other biases because we pay everybody the same salary point for the exact same level. That's been really great. The scores that we measure this in terms of fairness, transparency, and developmental feedback that people need to grow are all way higher than they were before. We're talking about an average of 15 to 20%, higher than they were before we implemented this system. Those are the outcomes. 

Finally, I will say that this has gained a lot of traction from people across the government. We've implemented this first for the Futurist where I was from. They have a career schema. When people say you can do this because yours is a tech organisation and it is easy to do this. That is not true because look at the Futurist, it was qualitative, and probably the most qualitative career you might have. They have a really good career schema so this really can be done anywhere and not limited to tech organisations. We became an advisor to the whole of government, ICT&SS, the IT sector and all of their competencies because we have a good one. We are advising them on how they can build it out for all the IT roles in government and how they can implement it and in terms of getting it. First, for learning and development, and then later on for performance management. That is really cool to have started that only less than three years ago, to have it grow from just OGP and the roles that we have to a large segment of government has been really great. 

Hardeep Matharu 
That is really awesome and Rahul, thanks for sharing. I think what I love about was, in some ways, it's kind of open sourcing the way that you do this performance management. You're going out to market, you're dealing with people that you would benchmark yourself against. If I really think about the clients that I have worked with, it’s rare that you see that happen. I think it is really brilliant. Like you've said, being able to have a proposition whereby you say to an engineer, or someone that comes along to say hey, if you're performing here, we know that you're in line with market. The leaders, the people, that others will look to. You've got a great proposition to say that we're on line. And thank you for saying product owner and not engineer because I know nothing about coding so you are very accurate about that as well. All good there. 

I'm actually curious in terms of the performance management piece, as you have said, it was about three years ago. I guess this was probably pre-pandemic when it was first introduced. How have you noticed that performance management or some of the tools and the approaches that you take - how do you feel that hybrid and remote working has impacted that? Has it made performance management easier? Have you found that it makes it harder for people to do it effectively? I would love to hear your views on that

Rahul Daswani 
Yeah, I think performance management really asks the question hey, if you want to do it well, do you have sight of what my performance is? That is the fundamental question. First of all, do you have a view? That's where hybrid changes things. Unlike in the office where you have a regular attachment with somebody and a feel for what they are doing, in a virtual environment, very often, you may not know. So how do you bridge that gap to make sure that you know what's happening especially, with your direct report, and they know that you know, which is also important. One major source of concern is does my boss even know all the things that I'm doing? How do they perceive that?

One of the things that we instituted - we are fortunate that we always planned to have a lot of autonomy for our employees. Even pre-pandemic, we had several practices that have held us in really good stead through the pandemic. I will give you a couple of examples on what has been helpful. Number one is we have this thing called a working document which everyone maintains. The idea is you will write down things like who I am, what are my long term goals and my quarterly objectives. Every week, you also have a table to fill up this is what I did. It just takes you five minutes every Friday to list the five or 10 bullet points of what I have done this week. Every six months, you then convert it into a six-month summary to state your major achievements and contributions. Then, anybody who has worked with you or not and is evaluating you such as your peer or your boss would have this objective piece of data to refer to. This enables them to evaluate based on complexity, contribution and impact. That's been really helpful. We had that before pandemic but it has become especially helpful during a pandemic for people to evaluate other people's work and benchmark that against other people who they see, maybe they see more often or maybe hey this person I haven't seen but based on this list of work, I can have a sense of where would I rate this person. That's a really helpful thing that we do. One of the things that I did, I mean we are a tech organisation so even though I am a non tech persona, unfortunately, I had to or fortunately, I had to learn tech.  

 It was really painful for me to learn technology, especially coding. When you have one syntax error in your whole code, it does not run. It was super painful when you need to you find this error but the fastest way to learn for adults is by doing. I can take this long bootcamp but unless I build something of use, then I am not really learning as much as I could. 

I decided to build a bot in Slack using JavaScript. What the bot does - it just pings people. When you're in office, you ask people what they are up to. You don't see people in a hybrid working environment. I wanted to build this bot that asked people every Friday what did you do. You probably already wrote on the working document. All you need to do is copy those five bullet points and respond to the bot and say, hey, here's my five bullet points. What it does is it direct messages everybody this. Four hours later, after everybody replies, it consolidates all the information and writes in a separate channel on what each person has been up to. Rahul, five bullet points. Hardeep, five bullet points. James, five bullet points. That is a really great way to have a pulse on what is happening in the organisation which we miss in hybrid work. You will be able to see what people is up to and use that to find threads. People will be like hey, actually, I'm working with this. We might want to collaborate and there might be some overlap here or hey, I'm curious about this, how are you thinking about this? Here's one way that you might want to think about this. That allows a sense of connection which has been helpful and possibly creates new collaboration opportunities that wouldn't have existed pre-COVID in any particular form. Now, it provides a forum for those organic interactions to happen. 

That ended up being a nice tool we still use right now to get a sense of what is really going on. As we grow and scale, like many tech organisations, we scaled up through a pandemic. We've grown from 25 to 100. You just can't and won't go through everybody's working document anymore so this is just quick pulse check. I get access to 40, 50, or 60 people who fill this out and straightaway scroll through to see what is interesting. That has been really nice. 

Then finally, one of the edits that we made is, in our early days, where everybody knew everybody and pre-COVID, you actually have a good pulse on what everybody is doing. You could provide meaningful feedback to large numbers of people during performance review. Now, that's unfortunately no longer the case. We've shrunk the number of people who can give peer feedback. What we found, maybe an interesting finding for you, reducing the number people giving the feedback actually did not reduce the quality of feedback people received. I think this happened because people realised that they do not need to fill in as many peer appraisals. Maybe in the past I had to fill in 15 or 20, and now I have to fill in seven. I can afford to take more time and give more detailed feedback to each of the person whom I work with more closely. 

People feel both the quality and the quantity of feedback were either unchanged or improved after we reduce the number of people who were peers who give them feedback. This was actually a really nice surprise to experience and realise that the optimal number of people to give feedback is between seven to 10. The quality is still high. People get good feedback. 

One of the things we made also to support that move was we had verbatim feedback option. So if you're comfortable sharing what you are seeing in the 360 report to the person unfiltered, there is a section for you to do so. I think that was really helpful. Some people just use it. Some people don't feel confident and comfortable and they just give people verbal feedback only and nothing is unfiltered, or rather everything is unfiltered and nothing is filtered. Other people are more cautious and so they are like hey, here's the feedback, I don't want to give it to the person. So a manager's responsibility is to figure out a decode, translate and give the feedback to the people. Because you have some amount of verbatim feedback, people felt that it was great and you don't lose stuff in translation as a result which has been really great.

Hardeep Matharu 
Yeah, actually I'm interested in a couple of things that you mentioned there. I think one of the points I find interesting in the context of Singapore, again as you sort of said, we know hierarchy is hierarchy. We recognise that. Maybe it is parts of two questions. The first thing I was interested in when you said that you had implemented a structure whereby people were responsible for giving feedback to fewer people. In some cases, I presume it was fewer than they previously had, how did they react to that? Perhaps maybe they thought of it as my level of influence is reducing or it's becoming that I've got fewer people who are directly reporting to me.
I think the broader question that links to this is how do you manage change when it comes to these sorts of things? What would be your main principles to driving change? Although this one might be a small element of adjustment, but maybe there will be some bigger elements? What are the main principles for driving change management in OGP and within your role?


Rahul Daswani 
Yeah. So the second one is a large question, but I will answer your first question first. With regards to the sphere of influence, at least, I don't think it's linked to the number of reports. In our model of feedback, you don't just provide feedback to people who report to you. You provide feedback to everyone who work with you. Your peers and people who are above you too so it doesn't exactly reflect your sphere of influence. 

Number two, we actually have confidence with the feedback. In the past, we would ask you to provide feedback to someone even if you didn't work with them as kind of a benchmarking because you don't want a situation where people are great with people they know but if people don't know them think their work sucks. That is a problem. That is a problem in terms of the impact that you can have a larger scale. You want people to independently also have a view, so you weigh it by confidence. We don't want that to overwhelm the view. 

We have this approach of exponential scale approach that we use in accordance with feedback so the people you work more have a much more of a say in what your weighted average is going to be, and then your manager takes that into account stills make the final call, and can overrule it. That's kind of how we have done the system. It was never about your sphere of influence. It was more about can we get the maximum amount of truthful data that is as useful as possible.

The principle is unchanged. It's just that we might feel like I don't know how he's going to be any more or you just don't like the person at all. Thus, we would rather focused on time. That's one element. 

The second element is maybe related to change management slightly. The idea of getting this rolled out - we have a really high communication process in terms of letting people know what to expect. We were telling people like hey, heads up, the forms are coming up in a month. Write your working document right and seize your salary. Here's your timeline, when you need to do self-appraisal, here's your peer appraisal and here's your managers providing feedback and calibration session. Here's when the one-on-one session is going to be. Multiple times in multiple formats - verbally on Slack, on the actual sheet itself. It's all there, everywhere all the time. That's what you have to do in hybrid working. You have to communicate the same thing in different formats, at different times, because somebody is going to miss some stuff, especially when people have communication preference. That is part of change management. Also, it is really important to emphasise what's the point and why. We have a single week which we tell people to pause on non-critical work and spend time on doing your peer appraisals really well because this is critical for the person receiving it. The person receiving it is going to benefit significantly from the amount of effort that you put in. It's just one week, it's just seven or eight or ten of them. Do it well. It's kind of like this idea of karma. The better feedback you give, everybody hopefully does that too which in turn, will get you good feedback to develop and grow and also an assessment. So let's be clear on how and why this is important. Let's put in the effort and deprioritise other things to show that it is not just talk. 

 We're actually making a concerted effort to make sure that this is important by deprioritising other work and letting you know that this is really critical. That's an example on how to do change management. You have to let people know what is important, why it's important. It is critical. In this day and age, when you can't explain the why, you lose credibility really quickly. You've got to back it up with actual actions to show this is serious business. This is how it's done. 

For us, fairness and transparency are legitimate values, core values for us. One of the things we do is that we make sure for every person who's promoted, we publish the reasons why they are promoted. It's a slightly amended version of the actual report that they get. We publicly put it in the same folder that the working document is in because some people might say hey, I haven't really seen the person work, how did they get promoted? Are they doing actual useful work? I'm not sure. Our response is read the document. You don't have to guess about why there is no opacity in the process. Read the document and you will see why they got promoted. That's where you get to abolish myths like oh, you know, I have to ship a new feature or a new product and so maintenance is not rewarded. That's a myth that existed before but this time, read this document. This dude got promoted entirely based on working on existing products and doing a lot of maintenance work. That myth is just not true. Here's the evidence to back it up. Whereas it could be a theoretical conversation, rumours could go on for a while if they are not clarified. 

We want to use the principles that we have and other organisations have different principles I'm sure, but use that principles to generate really good outcomes for your organisation and your people. Show that this is what's happened and refer back to it. That has been really helpful for our change management process.

Hardeep Matharu 
Well, I love that. The transparency you have adopted there and as you said takes the guesswork out of it. You are not trying to fill in the gaps yourself because you can never really fill in those gaps. I totally understand that. Thanks for the clarification about the way that those types of changes themselves, the wisdom behind it and why. It's actually great to hear that. There is a lot of what you have mentioned there about things like communication, and how you have to do it in all forms so that you just capture as many people as you can. There is no guarantee that the communications are going to get to everyone in one form. As you've said, you need to do it multiple times and keep going there. That's amazing and thanks so much for sharing. 

Rahul, I could ask you questions all day but I also recognise that I also should not take up too much of your time. But I do have one question that I would like to ask. In fact, we ask all of our guests, and of course, it's the name of our podcast. But if I take the term to have a better world of work, what does that mean to you? 

Rahul Daswani 
A better world of work. Yeah, that is an interesting one. For a better world of work, there are at least two things. Firstly, for a better world of work, if I focus on the work component, I hope we are doing better work. What does that mean? That means focusing on work that makes an impact and uses our human self. You don't want a world of work where all we're working on is monotonous, repeated work that a computer could do or program could do. Let's automate away all of that as much as possible so we can put the human element into work. Let's be creative, let's motivate other people, let's get groups of people together, let's mobilise and ideate on what the world could look like in the future. That would be good work. That's really what humans can do really well. That's how we've achieved so many of the wonderful human things that we've done from putting people on the moon to space travel and even reducing poverty massively and cultural. There are so many fantastic that we've done because people have really great ideas and not weighed down, or helped find ways not to weigh themselves down with mundane tasks. So a better world of work involves the more human work over the more robotic work. That's one component.  

Secondly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the environment of work that we are in. I think we are starting to see the shift but I think there is a lot more that can be done in terms of the balance of hierarchy, which we talked about earlier. Hierarchy was a good model in a time where capabilities and intelligence were scarce. It's not anymore so we shouldn't be operating like in many organisations as if it's scarce because it is not and you are wasting talent. The fundamental question of how a better world looks like - one way, you grant people more autonomy. You have 100 people solving 100 problems, not one person solving 100 problems cascading to other people doing other stuff to solve that because that takes an eternity and is incredibly inefficient. It is just wasteful. In an environment where you have 100 talented people, let them solve 100 problems each, almost. 

So how do you transform the environment if you work to give people the autonomy while making sure there is a clear alignment towards where the organisation is headed or where the purpose is? That sometimes can be the tension and hierarchy helps solve that because one person makes all the decision. That's one solution but it is so inefficient. How do you solve it in a different way. How do you give people the autonomy but make sure there is an alignment? How do you get the right people in the door who are aligned with the values and the mission of the organisation? That helps a lot. How do you make sure there are sessions that are co-creating, where people actually decide where the organisation goes and what we focus on rather than one person singularly deciding on the direction? 

When people are engaged and motivated, the amount of the things we can achieve is really tremendous. We have seen this in OGP and in many other places what an engaged and owner mindset organisation can really do. So if you create that kind of environment where you have a lot of autonomy and there's a clear alignment to purpose, that is going to be awesome. 

The final thing I will say is a better world of work is one where you have both the short term outcomes that often people focus too much on, in my opinion. This should be delivered and you also need to be really judicious on which ones are critical. Sometimes, people end up going to nth level of detail. Sometimes, some are more important than the others so you get those done but you should also focus on long term impact and long term capability development and investment in people. That results in turn for the next year, the baseline for the actual year's performance goes up significantly. If you invest enough and year after year, it's compounding interest. If you invest really heavily in that, it's a benefit. 

I think of this as an ecosystem. It's a benefit for OGP but not just OGP. Wherever the person goes next, that organisation is going to benefit. That is awesome and I think that's great right. It is a nett positive for the world that we're investing in people and they provide better outcomes wherever they may be, at OGP or outside. I want more organisations to do that because nett nett, the world is going to be much better off and people are going to be better off. They are going to be well-equipped. They are going to be able to solve more complex problems. That's really what we need. Let's shift the balance a bit more and invest more in people so that nett nett ,the ecosystem becomes fantastic and everything is great. We reach a better world, period.

Hardeep Matharu 
Right, awesome. Thank you so much, Rahul. Honestly, I could really ask you questions all day but I'm going have to wrap it up here. Rahul, it’s amazing to have you on. You're really a change maker in what you do. It's very inspiring to have a conversation with you. I thank you so much for making the time for the podcast today and OGP is really lucky to have you. Thanks so much for spending the time. I hope you have a great day. 

Rahul Daswani 
Great. Thanks, Hardeep.