When discussing E2.0, I often hear "Shouldn't we just implement these social tools and simply let business value "emerge"? My answer is NO, not if you want to maximize business value.
I am a strong believer that organizations, should focus and facilitate the use of these tools in order to maximize organizational benefits. To drive value, I've often referred to the engagement factors and in this post I wanted to focus on one of the factors, "Motivation".
How do we address motivation? Do we adopt the "build it and they will come" approach? No. But what about Wikipedia? it seems like complete "self-organization" has made it successful. But consider that only 1% of the people who visit Wikipedia actually contribute content. That's alright with a population set of the world, but 1% of your company may not be enough and if you have specific objectives you may need to motivate others to participate.
So what then? Should we use traditional motivation tactics (i.e. Carrots & Sticks)? For example, should we give bigger monetary bonuses or incentives to those who leverage social computing technologies to solve problems or provide innovative solutions? The answer yet again is surprisingly, NO.
In fact, bigger incentives causes worse results for cognitive tasks. Dan Pink has an excellent video that summarizes why this is, and has references to research by economists from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and sponsored by the US Federal Reserve Bank along with research by the London School of Economics which reviewed 51 studies on pay for performance. The bottom line is that pay for performance has a NEGATIVE impact on even "rudimentary" cognitive tasks.
Ok, so what then? Dan talks about a framework to address motivation but I wanted to remind you about that one motivator which is "fun"! Although it's been several several years since I've actually written code, I have to say that there was something fun about being able to solve tough bugs and problems which would motivate me to keep pushing at the resolution. The folks that update Linux aren't doing it for the money, so what motivates them?
Fun, as a design principle shouldn't be overlooked as it impacts the application design from look and feel, through context, content and process. It also should be addressed when designing events leveraging social computing technologies.
In a previous life, I had the opportunity to build a YouTube like environment to address concerns with recruitment and retention. Employees were allowed to do short snippets of why they loved working at their job. The results were amazing, for in a 2 week period the 3000 employees generated ~100 videos that were watched approximately 15,000 times. That's on average 5 videos watched per employee about why people love their jobs. 5 times employees choose to listen to these messages and engage. It was fun.
The power of fun is often forgotten. Perhaps it's because people still see work and fun as two separate things. After all, isn't the opposite of work, "play"? To illustrate how "fun" can be used to drive a specific outcome, there is a brilliant campaign underway by Volkswagan that does exactly that. Below is just one of their viral videos. So as you're having fun watching this video, just consider how you might be able to apply to this to your social computing endeavours...