KPI driven bot — Part 2: The Grinder Corp.

Representational image only (Charlie Chaplin in motion picture “Modern Times”)

This is the second part in a fictional series based on my experience working as a web software developer in the Information Technology industry and the day to day impact on various walks of life. KPI driven bot is a series that explores how bots (a pun for people) are driven by “key performance indicators” (or better known as KPI) in the industry.

“The Grinder Corp” is an interesting place. Though it is a Corporate, its internal departments operate like startup units. Cucumber seems a bit dazzled by “The Grinder Corp” campus and the vibe. Lots of chatters about technologies, buzzwords etc… It also sees other bots playing Foosball and Pool on campus. There is even a free vending machine serving these bots.

The Grinder Corp’s chairman bot expects its Corporation to delegate responsibilities to its departments and expects accountability from each and every department. Each and every department has a KPI review for its bots and each bot is meant to prove themselves at each review on why their presence is needed in their department as well as for the Corporation in general. Each bot, at the end of a quarterly KPI review, should be deemed “meeting and exceeding expectations” by their managerial bot. Else, these bots risk the guillotine.

There is immense psychological pressure on these bots as well as the departments to perform and exceed expectations set at the strategic and departmental level. The Grinder Corp’s chairman in his annual letter to shareholders sets strategic directions for the Company and ensures that the Company will continue to increase quarterly profits and in turn make the shareholders happy.

The lower level bots don’t really get the big picture. They are trained to focus and work and are expected to churn out by asking less critical questions. Some higher level bots in the department that joined the Corporation during its early stage had seen their allocated stock prices increase over time and had quit the Company to pastures of their liking. The bots that joined later post the stock surge and sort of during saturation phase, don’t see much value added to their employee stock purchase program. The bots that joined at the lower rug don’t really care as they are focused on their limited view tasks.

In a way, the supply chain setup of pick and replace bots (as a commodity) works really well for “The Grinder Corp”. That is how their departments are able to hire bots based on focused skill set. Meanwhile, Cucumber bot settles down and starts pumping out more code for its department. It reports to Tomato bot, its line manager.

The line manager’s job is to ensure bots reporting to it meet their quarterly KPIs. Over the next couple of years, Cucumber continues to meet and at times exceed the quarterly KPIs. During this period, Cucumber’s Parent bots decide that it is time for Cucumber to get married. It is bit of a cultural thing for Cucumber as it was raised in a setup that allowed it to interact with the prospective spouse bot before consenting to marriage. Onion bot, its prospective spouse is also a software developer and has been working in the industry for the last three years. Onion bot is a confident young woman ushered in by information technology revolution induced social change.

Getting to know each other over a period of few months, both Cucumber and Onion consent to marriage and their marriage is conducted by their Parents on the usual gala scale. Both of them start a life together as partners and head to their respective offices for work. Time flies. Both of them take time to travel during holidays and get to know each other better.

A year in to the marriage, Onion bot conceives and then begins the cycle of morning sickness and pregnancy induced hormonal changes. Onion bot, who has been fairly independent since the end of her college days, is now feeling more dependent on Cucumber for moral support. Cucumber tries to shuffle work and the commitment of being a supportive spouse.

Cucumber’s KPI review is in a month’s time and there seems to be a drop in Cucumber’s work commitments as Cucumber begins to balance work and the emotional swings of Onion. Meanwhile, Onion bot is also trying her best to keep up her spirits at work but unfortunately nature has its final say. She is advised by her line manager to take care of herself (read: take a break and return to work when she is fully able) and Onion bot believes she can carry on. Onion bot has a discussion with her Parents and they advise her to take rest as the daily commute and work could add to the stress. Cucumber leaves it to Onion’s choice.

Onion after much deliberation decides to apply for maternity leave but since her company doesn’t support an early maternity leave, she has to live with the aspect of being on unpaid leave. The legislations aren’t powerful enough to make the Company answerable and she isn’t left with much choice. She resigns to the fact that she has to take rest and be emotionally dependent on Cucumber.

Cucumber has his quarterly review and is advised by his line manager to step up performance as there had been a noticeable drop in meeting the quarterly KPI. Though Tomato, Cucumber’s line manager, understands the situation, it is much helpless like any other Manager at Grinder Corp. Cucumber begins to feel the heat and at times translates to intense argument with Onion at home.

During the later stage of pregnancy, Onion’s mother steps in to help and assists with the postnatal period of pregnancy. Onion goes through a bit of postnatal depression and slowly gets adjusted to the lovely newborn, Cherry bot. Cucumber bot and Onion bot get adjusted to the phase of being first time Parents and begin to enjoy the growing period of Cherry bot. Three months in to Cherry bot’s birth, Onion bot’s mother decides to handover responsibility back to Onion and leaves to her hometown to take care of her spouse.

Onion bot begins to get used to the routine of caring for her child by herself and Cucumber tries to chip in after returning from work. Months pass by and the next KPI review doesn’t seem to go in favour of Cucumber bot. Cucumber decides its time to bid goodbye to Grinder Corp and starts looking out for a job. After a couple of months search, it lands a senior software developer role at “The Mixer” media corporation.

The Japanese kid adopted by Namibian Parents