Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

It's not easy being an engineer.

Your impulse is to do things because you can, not because they might actually benefit someone.

That's why so many tech companies claim that they're Making The World A Better Place.

They want it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Failing that, they want you to believe it so that they can build whatever they feel like building.

I confess that an involuntary smirk slapped itself across my face this morning when I learned that SAP, the company that makes so much fine performance evaluation software, has made a major strategic shift.

It's decided to banish performance evaluations.

As Reuters reports, the company suddenly realized that annual performance reviews were blindingly ineffective.

"Grading workers did not work. People are open to feedback, also to harsh criticism, until the moment you start giving scores. Then the shutters go down," SAP's human resources head Wolfgang Fassnacht told Reuters.

What do you know?

Humans don't warm to becoming data points.

SAP says it's suddenly noticed that the work environment isn't high school.

High school in 1975, that is.

Indeed, work has become a constant flow. You might call it dynamic. My neighbor Thelma, a corporate attorney, might call it unnecessarily intrusive and overwhelming.

I can tell where your mind is already heading.

SAP will now stop selling its performance assessment software, won't it?

One has to lead by example. One has to stand up for what one believes.

Well, now.

It seems that SAP is already rolling out new performance assessment software that's more conducive to continuous assessment, rather than annual torture.

Yes, you are still a number, but that number can change on a daily basis.

You'll now stand at the water cooler and mutter: "Gadzooks. I was a 49 yesterday. Now I've dipped to a 12. I think I'll take the rest of the day off."

Many corporate entities enjoy putting a score on their employees.

At Microsoft, it was said that the performance evaluation systems were what held back the company from competing with the likes of Apple.

A certain number of people had to be deemed not good enough for the whole evaluation system to work.

In the end, though, employees are still being graded, still being assessed and still being told whether the company thinks they're good, bad or merely marginally expendable.

How much criticism can one human take?

I mean, imagine if we started grading politicians this way.

I know a couple who couldn't take it at all.

Aug 12, 2016