n_gage_Post_Header_Dec2013_Important Notes (well, kind of important anyway):

The n:gage Challenge answers should be submitted latest by midnight 29th December 2013. There is no minimum word limit for solutions; it can be just one line or even one word. One of the submissions as advice for Mahesh in n:gage challenge 1, was just two words: ‘Quit – Now!’. While it didn’t win the contest, we were laughing so hard for a very long time. The maximum however is 1000 words. If you hate writing and want to submit a doodled version, an illustration, a mind map, a flow chart – go right ahead. Solutions are solutions.

And now back to the main program: The challenge!

Bhaskar, the HR head of FastBrake was perturbed. He was looking at the MIS of rewards issued and redeemed across various offices and numbers looked quite bad. If there was any interest from the employees, in the awards that were being handed out, it was not evident. And add to that, the email that he just received from a service engineer based in London.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for the wonderful initiative of spot recognition that has been rolled out across the organization. Last week, I helped out one of our customers with a rather tricky problem they were facing with our ball bearings and my manager handed me an envelope today.

The card was nice I must say. But may I humbly point out that £5 doesn’t really buy much these days. Buying a pint of beer for oneself at the pub is hardly a celebration, wouldn’t you agree? I do appreciate the gesture though.

Yours Sincerely,


Bhaskar took a sip of his coffee and sat back in his chair. Last month his CEO, Natarajan had approved the largest Rewards and Recognition budget in the history of the company with the mandate that at-least 60% of the staff – globally- should be covered. The company had engineers and sales staff, spread across the Americas and Europe but a bulk of the workforce was based in Chennai.

Bhaskar and his team had decided that in the interest of time and ease of implementation they would hand out cash rewards. Each reward irrespective of the amount would be accompanied by a card with Congratulations printed on it and a printed signature of the CEO. The organization budget was split and allocated to the respective group presidents. They would in turn allocate the budgets to their managers, who would hand out their senior managers based on their requirements. Natarajan’s requirement of covering, a minimum of 60% of the team was clearly spelt out – the aim was not to give big amounts to a select few but to cover the maximum possible workforce.

The president of finance had pointed out to Bhaskar, that giving control of cash to junior managers and team leaders would be an invitation for scams. ‘This entire do-goody warm-fuzzy fad stuff Natarajan and you want is fine Bhaskar – it’s your call. In my time, when people worked hard, they got a bonus at the end of the year.  But remember when it comes to money – there will always be rotten apples’ said Swaminathan, the 55 year old who controlled finance in the company with an iron-fist.

Managers would take the approval of their group presidents for each award and then hand it out. To prevent problems, Swaminathan insisted that employees who received the award also sign a receipt, which would be maintained for accounting purposes and ‘prevent any smart-aleck from gaming the system.’

Bhaskar took another look at the R&R MIS and wondered what he was going to tell Natarajan in the next status update meeting.

The exhibits:

n_gage_2_FastBrake_Company_Snapshot_n_gage_2_FastBrake_Employeedistribution_n_gage_2_FastBrake_OrgChart_n_gage_2_FastBrake_RnR_BudgetDetails_n_gage_Sample_CongratulatoryCard_Dec2013_Disclaimer: Fast-Brake is a fictitious company and all people, events etc. described in this case are for illustrative purposes only and are not based on any real life company or people.

Your solution:

Write up your advice for Bhaskar in less than 1000 words and send it in before midnight of 29th December.(If you are facing issues in using the form, send in your solution to prashant.john@kwench.in in whatever format you choose: text, image, pdf, ppt et. al. )

As always to be fair to all participants, we will not be answering any individual queries. If you feel some information you need to form your solution is missing from the challenge text, make suitable assumptions. Do remember to clearly mention your assumptions though.

2 thoughts on “The n:gage Challenge #2: Squeaky Brakes

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