Sin 2. Envy (The ‘Kiasu’ Managers)



SIN number 2.


ENVY is probably closest to the local term,

Everything Also Scared Lose

WEBSTER dictionary on line has it that, “Envy is a painful or resentful awareness of the advantage enjoyed by another joined with the desire to possess the same advantage.”  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as, “the feeling of mortification and ill-willed occasioned by the contemplation of superior advantage possessed by another.” 

DR EVIL, Model for ill-intentions


Both definition has a common thread that is woven around ill-intention.

If there is no ill-intent, then we called it competition.  Competition is at its best is perfectly healthy, but once competition harbours ill-intentions, then it transform into the sin, ENVY, and that is not good at all.


“Why Did We LOSE To Department X?”
“But, but, we gave them a good fight, boss..”


Competition Generates ENVY?

Many WITS managers fall into the trap of ENVY because of the incorrect perspective when they compete.  One of my long time friend and critic of the National IQC Competition (started in the late 1980s) always associate competition as the cause of ENVY among WITS managers, therefore, all competition should be avoided. 

Competition has its merits.  It is not just the winning and losing.  The most benefit is reaped during the preparation for the competition. When properly advised, the whole team has the best chance to come together as one.  They face a common objective, first, they must draft their report; then they rehearse the project presentation.  This is also an excellent opportunity to give a pat on the back of the leaders and the team.  Wise managers will know it is also a great opportunity for the much needed morale booster shot.

A team preparing for the competition –
everything is now laid out on a big table. 
They are making our stand together!


Puts the Project in Perspective.

The 10-subcriteria of the NIQC Convention sets out a template for the team to validate their problem solving process, including; how rigorous was their data collection methodology, how the team was able to identifty the causes, and which are the critical ones.  When it comes to solution design and the team should be able to employ creativity and finally, implementation, the team is expected to see a reasonable level of operationalise new procedures.  Finally, the team must also compute results from the project, the team learns how to put a value to the project.  Here again, is an opportunity for management to share their views on the kind of value their project had achieved through their WIT project.  


Criteria framework of the National IQC Convention.  


How To Manage ENVY.

Perhaps, the greatest challenge to overcome ENVY is really that of managing the ‘competitive energy’ and channel it towards benefit.  I once heard a wise saying, “Floods and rivers consist of bodies of water. But flood destroys, while rivers gives live.  The main difference is that river water is guided by river banks, while flood waters do not respect their borders.”

Floods break out when the water over-runs river banks

Great Amazon River

The energy from competition and ENVY are the same.  However, if this energy is not channelled for good, it turns into evil, and becomes ENVY- our second sin!

Three Gorges hydropower project under construction on the Yangtze River.  Xinhua, Du Huaju

Three Gorges hydropower project under construction on the Yangtze River. Xinhua, Du Huaju

Channel your energy to good use!

KIASU is a SIN, and that mentality is revealed by the other KIASU books.  “Everything also must grab, Everything also I want” – literally means that even if you do not need them, you also want to horde them.



ENVY Traps.

But why do many WIT Managers fell into ENVY and end up directing their energies, or their team’s energies away from good and end up with self-destruction?  It is complicated, but important to wrestle with this sin before it grows.  Let me begin by examining the three most common traps of ENVY.  I define a trap as … a seemingly harmless object, but it snares the unwary.  The statements below highlight three common Envy Traps in WITS.  Just like all sins, it happens when somewhere along the way, people got ‘lost in the woods’. 

Once the WITS Manager falls into these traps, they channel your teams’ energy towards ENVY.  By the way, most of these traps had noble original intentions.  They started out with a good vision of what the committee (WITS Management Steering Committee) wants – To encourage the spirit of WITS.


Trap 1.   Every Project Must Win Gold.

Trap 2.   Every Project Must Save Money.

Trap 3.   Every Team Must Complete 4 Projects  


Gold.  Gold,  Gold.

Eventually, the noble intention of helping and encouraging teams to work on useful projects, that can help the department, company and give them the opportunity to bond and develop better working realtionship, and to solve problems became reduced to the visible and tangible numbers.  The number of Gold Awards became more important. 




Money.  Money.  Money.

More Savings = Good Project

The value of a project has been reduced to the savings derived from the project.


Project.  Project.  Project.

Even more removed, is the target for number of projects per year.  Afterall, all these numbers are simple ways track the teams’ performance, and they can also serve as benchmarks for comparing.  Now it seems that the ‘water in the river is guided’. 


You want 4 projects, I will create four


Remember, sin is always looming and waiting in dark corners.

When the numbers are over- emphasised without regard for quality and truthfulness,

ENVY will creeps in





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