Archives For Enterprise2.0

by David Mastronardi & Tom Cummings , originally posted here.

In our previous post, my colleague Tom and I recapped Seth Priebatsch’s SXSWi keynote address and introduced the concept of enterprise gamification.

That's engagement

Taking tacit game mechanics already at play and providing deliberate structure and reward schedules gives companies a potentially powerful social business design tool. Enterprise gamification’s power lies in its ability to influence individual behavior and create hivemind, an often elusive enterprise dynamic. While the right game makes this dynamic more achievable, the complexity of influencing human behavior necessitates planning and design. Taking time to understand game mechanics and the psychology of rewards will lead to more effective games, engaged employees and better business results.

The Email Game

To explore these concepts let’s outline a simple game that helps Company X promote its low cost provider strategy. The goal of the game is to lower network storage costs by reducing the amount of email employees store in their inbox. Company X decides to reward employees with one point whenever they delete an email.

Rewards

A well designed game aligns individual rewards with the strategic objectives of the business. Properly incentivized employees will then repeat behavior beneficial to company goals. Two types of rewards exist:

Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards come from the enjoyment of the activity itself, reducing email storage in Company X’s case. The best games, often the most addicting, create enjoyment by fulfilling basic human needs:

Autonomy is the feeling that your activities are self-chosen. Company X can incorporate this feeling into their game by giving employees additional ways to earn points.  Besides deleting emails, archiving emails locally can also result in a point. Now employees have choice.

Competence is the feeling of confidence and effectiveness in one’s activities. The accumulation of points gives employees direct and frequent feedback.  The Email Game can provide additional feedback by creating dashboards that track saved space and individual contribution to company cost savings.

Connectedness comes from a sense of closeness to others. The Email Game can create connectedness by allowing org-chart based groups to compete. Individuals will be rewarded for working together to reduce their organization’s email footprint.

Extrinsic Rewards

These rewards come from outside the individual: the Email Game’s points. While not as personally meaningful as intrinsic rewards, extrinsic rewards set the basis for competition, standard measures by which players compare performance. To increase their value Company X can tie their extrinsic rewards (points) achievement to real world benefits, e.g. paid-time-off, gift certificates to the company store, a meeting with the CIO.

Game Mechanics

Rewards explain why people participate, Game Mechanics dictate the who, what, when and where. A well designed game’s incentives harmonize with its mechanics.  SCVNGR, Priebatsch’s company, defines 47 game mechanics. Let’s review four in the context of the Email Game:

Appointment is a mechanic that involves returning at a predefined time to perform a predetermined action. Company X might make the lunch hour more productive by offering a double-point bonus.

Influence & Status uses social pressure to modify behavior. By implementing leader-boards across geographical, organizational and individual levels Company X can create a sense of status and competition.  This mechanic also feeds an employee’s sense of Competence.

Progression is a mechanic by which progress is displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. A simple daily progression in the Email Game could include two steps:  clicking through all mailbox folders to check for deletion candidates and archiving your entire inbox to a local directory. Successful completion of these activities results in a point.

Communal Discovery is when a community must come together to complete a challenge. The previously suggested idea of group based incentives is an example of Communal Discovery.  This mechanic also directly ties in to an individual sense of Connectedness.

By no means an exhaustive guide, this post introduces fundamental concepts to Game Layer creation. Turning work into a game involves more than bribing employees with points. Developing effective games for your company will be an evolutionary process.  Even the simplest games engage complex behavioral dynamics. Be sure to plan, measure your progress and iterate as new behaviors emerge.

Game on. (Game on)

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Over the next ten years, we’ll see (and help build) an interactive layer built on an amalgam of our personal motives.

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In my last post I wrote about communication being an important aspect of knowledge work and decision making.  I can sometimes get a little too academic with how things are supposed to work and so I thought I’d write a follow-up post that uses a concrete example (IRL for some) of how communication helped me and my colleague, Tom Cummings, just the other night.

The setup here isn’t that important other than to to say we were at the beginning stages of a new project and decided a brainstorming session was in order.  We found an empty conference room, a whiteboard and started to get our ideas down.

Social Business Design aside:  This conference room is what we commonly refer to as a silo.  A silo is anything (an organization, software…a conference room) that keeps information within its walls, making it hard for an outsider to discover what is going on behind them.  Tom and I were working alone, the rest of the company had no visibility into what we were doing.

Five minutes in to our brainstorm we were interrupted by a much more responsible group of colleagues who actually reserved the conference room for a meeting.  We packed up our stuff, white board included, and as there were no other conference rooms available, made camp in the hallway.  It’s important to note that this is really the only hallway that exists in our open floor plan office, so by default it is the highest trafficked hallway we have.

Social Business Design aside: A hallway is very much like a dynamic signal, a ‘dynamic information flow produced by constituents.’ As Tom and I were working in the hallway we were being passed by other employees with different experiences, expertise, points-of-view and tacit knowledge. Our activities were now visible to the rest of the company.

In the hallway we were being passed by colleagues.  They could see what we were working on and chose to either keep walking or stop and engage us.  We experienced both.  Within ten minutes, Tom and I found oursleves in a conversation with two colleagues each knowledgeable and experienced on the work we were doing.  Over the next 30 minutes we discussed our current situation, the vision and goals for the project, recent trends and developments and lessons learned from having ‘been there and done that.’  Afterwards, Tom and I literally went back to the drawing board to incorporate what we had just learned.

Social Business Design aside:  I mentioned that colleagues in the hallway would either keep on walking or stop to talk to us.  This is an example of a metafilter, ‘what’s important to one person may be meaningless to another.’   Those who wanted to participate could, those who had other interests could keep on going.  By being in the hallway (the dynamic signal) we were making ourselves visible to the rest of the company so they could decide to participate or not.

It’s impossible to compare the Dave & Tom-only project to the Dave & Tom + Colleague Feedback project (because the former will never happen) but everyone involved felt much better about latter: more input, more experience, more tacit knowledge.  We had engaged in communication and collaboration that resulted in a much more holistic approach to our work.  Our path forward became more clear, informed and actionable.

You might not have the collaboration luxury of working in the same office as the rest of your company, so this might not be your everyday experience.  The good thing is you don’t have to be in the same office to collaborate with colleagues.  There are fantastic tools available that will give your company all the virtual hallways, metafilters and whiteboards it needs.  But, tools are the easy part these days.  Your company is filled with smart people, gathering knowledge and insights every day…are you prepared to use them?

Communication as Work

July 14, 2010 — 3 Comments

A knowledge worker spends a good portion of the day communicating – meetings, status reports, emails, phone calls, water cooler talks.  Much of this activity is considered unproductive overhead; when you look at a calendar full of meetings you wonder when you’re going to get any REAL work done.  And while many popular forms of communication may be inefficient and ineffective, communication is work; perhaps the most important work knowledge workers do.

Knowledge work is aimed at turning information into something decisionable and actionable; too often reports, presentations, survey results are mistaken for such.  While they are a key part of the decision equation, they are not enough.  They don’t provide insight.  The only thing they’re good for on their own is filling repositories.

Knowledge, unlike the data and information contained in reports, is a living & breathing thing.  It can’t be put in your enterprise content management system.  It exists in the heads of employees (often referred to as ‘tacit’ knowledge), constantly being shaped by different stimuli: articles, blog posts, pictures, models, books, conversations with colleagues, etc…  Communication is the process by which this constantly evolving knowledge is applied on data and information to a decisionable end.  This process will generate insights on how to take advantage of the information you have gathered.  Unless the reports, presentations and survey results are subjected to scrutiny and analysis through communication, no insights are created and decisions are delayed or malinformed.

Communication is more than just a block of time on your calendar.  It’s an opportunity to  share knowledge, gain insight, make better decisions and create for your company a competitive advantage.

What does communication look like where you work?  Is it enabling the application of knowledge to data and information?  Where do your company’s insights come from?

With all that organizations are doing towards bringing in new tools to the enterprise, the bottom line is a better organization: more flexibility, more agility, more net centric.

From what I can tell, no organization has put more time into research of this effort than the military. Traditionally considered the paradigm for command and control, the military recognized the need for change in this new information age as early on as any.

Take a look at the papers on this site. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find and how much applies to your organization. From command and control to leadership in the 2.0 age. Very solid information here.

Now that we’ve got an e2.0 platform up and running we’re looking at our next big phase in turning everything social:  integration with (or replacement of) other enterprise systems.  One of the first that comes to mind is our Skills DB.  The Skills DB does what it sounds like – it’s a database of skills.  However, now that each employee has a social profile on this new e2.0 platform, a portion of which contains skills information, what’s the point of having a separate system that has essentially become redundant?  Additionally, retiring an enterprise system like the Skills DB would certainly help the e2.0 business case.

In the 1.0 world, an employee was required to access the Skills DB once a year and update his/her skills with ‘level of experience’ and ‘last time used’ information; afterwards the employee’s supervisor would log into the system and validate the information.  In the 2.0 world, that process becomes unnecessary.  It will be important for employees to have a current listing of their skills for search and ‘recommendation’ reasons.  But an employee’s skills or expertise will be determined in other ways.  If your e2.0 system is designed to be put in the knowledge worker’s workflow, their profile will be dynamically generated by the work they do:  the documents they author, the ideas they generate, the discussions they participate in, the artifacts they tag, the questions they answer, the reviews their peers generate through feed-back loops.

Now, when a hiring manager is looking for a software engineer with .NET experience, instead of going to an isolated Skills DB (where the info might be a year old), all they have to do is a quick search in the e2.0 tool.  Immediately they will be given much richer, up-to-date, information on all the employees with that skill set.  Plus, the hiring manager will be able to validate the claimed skill by looking through the activity of the employee, the projects they’re currently working on, the feedback from peers, etc…

Some takeaways:

  • We can retire an enterprise system – good, bottom line-savings there
  • Employees no longer have to compartmentalize logging their skills as a separate part of their day, it’s now in the workflow – good, productivity gain, current skills info maintained
  • We’ve completely revamped the way we manage our skills and look for talent to fill internal job req’s.   – process improvement, if we can fill reqs faster, we can get to market faster
  • ‘Work’ is now out in the open to be judged  – wow
  • Peers can provide feedback in an open, public forum – geez (are we ready for this?), skill validation can now be vetted as opposed to the opinion of one person
  • Information (Skills DB) previously accessible/searchable only by hiring managers is now out there in broad daylight for anyone to see/search/use – empowering, organizationally flattening, potential for emergent outcomes.

In the past week there have been three very smart posts on dynamic signal: one from David Armano , one from Skillful Minds, and one from Mark Fidelman.  The dynamic signal is one of the key elements (archetypes, as Dachis Corp calls them) of developing a successful social business (internally, externally, or preferably both); it is an enabling capablitiy whose fate will be decided by an organization’s culture and its employees’ willingness to create a dynamic signal and embrace its potential.

Back in January, I posted on this topic of pushing information to the edge of organizations.  The theory is actually based on the military’s traditional methods of Command and Control and how they are attempting to evolve information flow, much like we’re trying to do with a social business.  Below, given the recent discussion of dynamic signals, is an appropriate excerpt of that post.  If you wish to read the entire post, it is here (actually written around an event incited by David Armano).

Command and control (C2) was the traditional method (and is still widely used today) for organizing military forces.  As a soldier (on the edge) you got your orders only once, from the top (the core).  You followed them, no deviation.  One of the main reasons for this approach was lack of bandwidth.  Chances were, once you got into the field, should an unforseen situation arise there was almost no opportunity to communicate back to the top.  You had no choice but to proceed as planned.  And speaking of unforseen situations, C2 assumed that there wouldn’t be any.  We knew who our enemy was and how they operated (think Cold War); not so true in today’s world (think 9/11).  Resulting from this C2 approach was a very strong/smart ‘core’ and a very weak/uninformed/dumb ‘edge.’  That just won’t work today.

Power to the Edge urges the military to change its approach, to empower, educate & sharpen the edge.  Things do happen in the field and the the front lines need the ability & freedom to operate and overcome those obstacles.  Technology & bandwidth have made information flow to the edge possible; the edge can be smarter and more effective than ever before.  However, there is a foundation that must be in place for Power to the Edge to occur :

• Clear and consistent understanding of command intent;

• High quality information and shared situational awareness;

• Competence at all levels of the force; and

• Trust in the information, subordinates, superiors, peers, and equipment.

So, I think the bullet points above represent key requirements for companies looking to generate a dynamic signal (each bullet probably deserves its own post).  While a dynamic signal could be a great asset to an organization looking to be more effective/efficient/innovative, you don’t just order one from Amazon (or HP).  You have to build it, and it’s not a tool – the tool amplifies the signal, but the tool does not create the signal.  Employees, given the right culture create the signal.  Once you’ve got that, a tool can tap into the signal and distribute it very efficiently.  But, even after you achieve distribution of your dynamic signal, does your company have the culture (or design) to act on it?  To benefit from it?  Are your employees ready for this?  Are those who hold the power in your organization ready for more informed employees?