All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maximizing Business Value from Enterprise 2.0 through Fun & Motivation

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...


Bertrand Duperrin said...

I agree, fun is a (at least) a part of the answer. The only issue is that enterprises are not very likely to buy fun as a change method...(even if they understand that's the solution).

Unknown said...

Heh Rex. Thanks for this. I think fun is what happens when you have autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Without these intrinsic values that Daniel Pink refers to ... don't think fun is possible. Take the Fun Theory examples from Volkswagen. All of them give people autonomy, mastery and purpose. What do you think? Deb

WebTechMan said...


Nice post! It's so funny to see this, because I was just talking about these points, including these same videos with my team.

The bulk of Enterprise 2.0 adoption can be handled by design. Joshua Porter does a great job explaining how to create passionate users. You can see his videos and slide here

Thanks for sharing,
Daniel Hudson

Anonymous said...

Hey Rex, You are 100% correct. Personally, I think that when you empower employees, leverage creativity, and encourage FUN at work, the result will be much better than most traditional ways like some that Dan mentioned. For example, my first job after University in the US, encouraged me to be creative and never offered an incentive. They never questioned my arrival/departure times and I declined over time pay. I took on a project that was not offered to me and did extremely well. I did it because I wanted to and did it in my free time and weekends. Two month later, I was offered a manager position and presented with a project to do. I did very well on that project and in a record time. I empowered my employees to make decisions and whenever I gave an incentive, it was never prearranged but was always to allow my employees to do projects that they liked doing. Upper management took notice and I was offered a Director position few months later. Regards, Alaa

Rex Lee said...

Thanks for the comments.

@Betrand: I've seen organizations utilize this, but it's likely still a little while before it becomes widely adopted.

@Deb: I believe that Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are required for longer-term sustainable usage. I think "fun" may not necessarily have those elements but if looking for sustaines performance it is required.

@WebTechMan: Thanks for the reply and I will definately check out the Josh Porter material.

@Alaa: Some excellent examples. Thanks. And the thing with "FUN" is that it's different for different people. When I tell me friends, I can't wait to get back into the office and try to explain why it's fun, they don't necessarily see it the same way. ;)

Caroline said...

Great examples Rex. If you think about it we spend the majority of our awake hours at work. If you are leading innovative and creative teams incorporating the "fun" aspect into work can stimulate the high performance of teams and the returns the company maybe looking for. For more thoughts on the power of "fun" at work see the book: The Red Rubber Ball at Work: Elevate Your Game Through the Hidden Power of Play, Link:

fred said...

great post! thx for that. I agree... and my team also i think (hope)... i have to check this again & again, fun it's too important indeed

Fabio Lalli said...

Great examples! Tnx :)

jimhayward said...

I have been trying to use Pink's ideas to get people in Florida to enter their golf scores. To see some backgound on my ideas, see

I would be interested in any ideas about how I might inspire intrinic motivation for people to enter scores.