Why do I like Google+
…cause I can make little or big email-like posts and @mention people…and the interface is so clean and simple.
I was sent a 3 paragraph email today with a few bullet points, a bold heading and an image…it was sent to 5 people in different teams…the email was of a simple nature “…we are doing this initiative, can you guys offer advise or help in anyway…”
When we look at enterprise activity stream tools they really lack in what Google+ offers ie. some formatting, space for bigger communications, and a real smooth interface.
Coming back to my example above; if your work had Yammer, Newsgator, Socialcast, Podio, Tibbr you would of had to resort to email.
…is this an #epicfail or not, what do you think?
Maybe I’m wrong…I’m just assuming these products have a character limit…but I know they allow for little formatting…and certainly don’t have the UX of Google+.
So far there’s one product I’ve seen called Neudesic Pulse that comes close…I would say its UX is the closest to Google+ (they released version 3 not that long ago)
Now in relation to formatting and space…Neudesic Pulse could be better. The status updates tab doesn’t have it (actually I’m not sure if it has unlimited characters)…but if you click the “Articles” tab you can write a long-form communication with some minimal formatting. But you can also collaborate on it, and so forth…so it kind of feels more like an online pages/wiki page type thing…but it could be used for the use case above.
Facebook is similar in that it has Facebook Notes, which is a long-form, but only it has more a blog post like feel compared to the online page like feel of Neudesic Pulse Articles
Anyway, what I’m looking for is a status update tool that allows you to do what I do in email now, but doing it online instead.
ie. I want to write a status update that’s 3 paragraphs long with bold and bullet points and an image, and then @mention people
Hmmm…but I wouldn’t call it status updates, or microblogging, or blogging or wikis…I’d just call it “messages” or “posts”.
Google+ doesn’t have a name for it’s posts, all it says within the text box is “share what’s new…”
It also collapses and expands messages and comments perfectly so one message/comment never dominates the screen unless you want it to
Posts and Messages
Email is mostly known as messages
Blogs are posts (I don’t consider Tumblr/Posterous microblogging, they are just really easy blogging via a bookmarklet and simple interface)
Microblogs are status updates…which kind of blur the line between chatting and broadcasting (eg Facebook and Twitter)
If you ask me Google+ blurs this line the most, but it’s not really microblogging as there’s nothing “micro” about it…your posts can be “macro” if you want…Macroblogging is the most stupid term ever that I just made up…but I just feel Google+ is a little different
Whether it’s the example I gave above, or troubleshooting with colleagues using simple formatting and screenshots; there are still reasons why email is easier
eg posting a 3 paragraph message, with minimal formatting and pasting a couple of screenshots to 5 people
This takes a couple of minutes in email, whereas you can’t do it in microblogging…you can’t do the last bit in Google+ either (in my last post I pointed to Confluence being able to paste images)
If we look at our emails, what’s the average size…perhaps a couple of paragraphs, with some bullet points, bold text and an image easily pasted in here and there…there’s nothing micro about this
So then why is enterprise social software all crazy about microblogging…I get it that it’s easier than blogging and more engaging to be in a network, but an unlimited character limit and offering a few editing buttons won’t make it harder or less engaging.
If most of our emails aren’t that micro and often have formatting (bold/bullet points), then let’s allow messages in activity streams to reflect this
For example if 50% of our emails don’t have formatting, images, and are only one paragraph; then this 50% has a chance to be re-purposed in activity streams (rather than email)…but the other 50% will continue in email, unless activity streams make a few simple changes.
If we want our online messages to be more twitter like broadcasts, and simple conversations and questions, then that’s fine…this replaces a good portion of email. But if we also want posting online messages to do what most of email offers ie. the features that cater for all contexts of communication, then we need those simple changes
There’s more to say, but it was not the focus of this post; like types of posts (idea, task, event, question)…and also posting to a group from your main stream.
This post has focused just on “posting/sending messages”…whereas my previous post also covered productivity and managing your stream.
Search within an activity stream
Put people you follow in lists
Tag other peoples posts
My sent posts
Filter stream by post type (idea, event, task, question)
Filter your stream by person (I have only seen this on FMYI, and perhaps Socialtext)
Filter your stream by date (not sure if I have seen this anywhere, besides the Newsgator pivot viewer webpart…but this is separate from your main homepage)
A robust “notifications” page
“Many of the things we hated about email will be MULTIPLIED, not solved by stream-overload. People say email is not the problem, it’s how people mis-use it. Guess what, people misuse activity streams. The funniest part is “2.0 vendors” will be adding features like prioritization and followup to streams and claiming how revolutionary it is.” - Alan Lepofsky
This post is a design recommendation for enterprise activity streams to be more in tune with human behaviour experienced by knowledge workers in organisations, by taking cues from email clients.
Why do we like email – because we can easily send and receive, and manage our stuff…the only thing is that it’s messy, it’s private, and we are overloaded (probably something we can’t fix other than lowering occupational spam eg. from being pushed the latest gym newsletter to choosing to “follow” it instead).
The idea is to make a more coherent experience, take it online so information is findable (no longer dies), connect people (better way to sense-make and become engaged), unfollow threads (no more being a victim of reply all), and to have ambient awareness (a more adaptable and agile organisation).
But while we offer this solution, the idea-as alluded to above-is to not take away the usability and the essence of the inbox…the x-factor that makes it so in tune with human behaviour (we receive, send, and manage everything from this one spot).
And coupled with this; is “activity stream overload” going to be the new “inbox overload”…um, yes, but only worse…bring on the filters!!
Some think activity streams and microblogs replace most of email…not so fast…sometimes it is about the technology
Manage the stream
One theme here is for an Activity stream to have the management, organisational, and productivity features that we see in email clients. A facebook type of activity stream does not have enough functionality to suit the enterprise. In the enterprise we need to be able to manage our stream, we cannot let things stream past that we have been asked or expected to action. We need to come back after a week’s leave and be able to catch up with what’s essential (@mentions are the only way at the moment to catch essential stuff-stuff you need to respond to-in a bucket). We need to be able to tag items (just like Gmail tags or folders in MS Outlook), forward them (re-share or send), flag them (for follow-up), filter/sort them (person, date, object type), organise stuff we follow (people, groups, objects, tags) into lists…
And as alluded to before, because this is a “pull” model ie. we choose to “follow”; we can unfollow noisy threads, or even unfollow or block noisy people.
On this note I’m impressed with Newsgator’s Pivot Viewer filtering webpart (video 4 minutes in)
Now compare this to a personal context like Facebook; it doesn’t really matter if you miss out on stuff, after a couple of days absence there’s no crucial need to back read the whole stream…it’s a very different experience and level of importance…leisure compared to business.
All context Posting (no need to shift context, just post from the one spot)
What’s good to see in most Activity streams is that you can post to different object types from the same window…and then with most vendors you can filter the stream by object type.
You can post a status update, or you can instead post it as a question, photo, event, idea, task, etc…
- it would be similar to; when clicking “new” in Outlook or “compose” in Gmail, the menu would list a selection of possible actions eg. A simple text or link update, or is it a photo, question/poll, event, idea, task, etc…all right there in the flow.
Now what if you don’t want to post in your default network stream, but want to post something to a group. No need to shift context ie. You don’t need to go find that group space, instead at time of posting you simply choose from a down-menu if you want the post to go to a group (or @mention the group)…all this is done from your main activity stream.
The idea is to match the convenience that we all experience in our email clients…now we can flick a status update, photo, question/poll, task, event, idea…just like we flick an email…social software should be easy.
NOTE: there are exceptions. We may need to visit the group space to post to a blog, wiki, forum
Sometimes I can’t use status updates even if I wanted to and instead resort to email. Here are some reasons: I need unlimited space, I need to copy and paste screenshots, I need to use minimal formatting (bold, bullet points, italics, indent). Enterprise activity feeds need to take some cues from Google+ (except maybe the copy and paste screenshots…that’s hard one without referencing a URL…or maybe it’s not, check out how it’s done in this Confluence video).
If we really want activity streams to be the new dashboard then we need no excuse to use email other than; private (but then again most activity streams have a private message function), or communication with people outside the company (until a standard protocol becomes available, but this is only warranted if activity streams prove themselves as everyday tools)
Consolidated, not scattered content
People like that their email client is their personal information management tool which delivers, houses and organises (folders) all their sent/received content…sort, browse, search for the content. The issue with current enterprise social suites is that your content is scattered all over the place. People don’t like that; they want ownership in the one spot…they don’t want to have to visit a group space or their own profile to find something they commented on, or a post they made…people simply want it all housed in the one spot, similar to their email client. We are used to email clients where we access our left sidebar for all our needs, rather than having to visit other pages…our email clients are the one dashboard skin where just the body in the middle changes…at any time we have access to all our controls
People like to own their content and know it’s all accessible via the one spot…they feel secure…and it’s a less scattered experience.
Notifications inbox as the default stream
What content matters to you most: stuff you follow, or stuff that’s directed at you…it’s the latter right. This is why I think the notification stream or the interactions stream that we are familiar with when using Facebook and Twitter; when in the enterprise context actually needs to be the default home stream.
In other words there’s no such thing as “notifications”, it’s simply your inbox ie. When you launch the web page or the desktop app the home activity stream is your “notifications” stream, which is called your “inbox”…and it has a mark read/unread feature.
If you want to see content you have “sent” then click the “sent” stream in your left hand pane (just like we see in email clients)…you can filter this by authored/participated (comments you have made), by object type, by person, date, etc…
Then if you want to go back to your “notifications” stream you simply click the “inbox” stream in your left hand pane (just like we see in email clients)
Now here’s something new…if you want to see content by people/groups/objects/tags you “follow”; then you click the “follow” stream in your left hand pane (which is something you don’t see in email clients)…you can filter this by object type, by person, date, etc…or even group them into lists
So here’s what you see in inbox 2.0:
- private messages
- comments on my posts
- comments on posts I’ve commented on
- likes on my posts/comments
- who followed /unfollowed you
- who favourited your content
- content people have sent you via the share/send link we see on the footer of stream items
- tasks assigned (and comments) (and progress reminders)
- event invites (and reminders)
- perhaps even who added you to a list
Here’s what others are thinking:
Taking Notes Episode 150: 2012.02.09 - Activity Streams of the Future, with Alan Lepofsky
Predictions For 2012 From An Employee Perspective
Don’t Cross The Streams
Making Activity Streams More Manageable
Enterprise 2.0’s New Debate: Dam the Streams?
Monday’s Musings: Why Next Gen Apps Must Improve Existing Activity Streams
Email Is Crushing Us, Can Activity Streams Free Us?
In my next post I’ll share a comprehensive list of features and functionality I’d like to see in enterprise activity streams.
My main point is it’s not about just following stuff; the follow stream is what’s new, OK got that…and that it’s open conversation by default, rather than email’s private by default concept, OK got that…and that we have moved from personal computing to social computing, OK got that…and all the new emergence, adaptability, x-ray awareness, sense-making, engagement, etc that comes from all that, OK got it. But it’s also about what it’s always been about, managing your inbox; stuff people want you to do. That’s why when it comes to designing for 80% of how you need to use the tool; I contend the notifications inbox, along with filters and organizing content is key…this is missing in current designs, and shouldn’t be as it’s not accommodating to what we are doing 80% of our time. Email is about doing work; and in order to compete or be more useful, activity feeds also need to be about executing/managing actual work…and they can be, we just need the design to facilitate this.
You could say that activity feeds/microblogging aren’t trying to replace email, they are just something new. But the thing is a lot of people just don’t have time…I was in our cities financial district the other day watching exec’s get in an out of lifts with their heads in their blackberry…these guys are super busy, and just won’t have the time to visit an enterprise technology where they can follow stuff…but if we can instead design activity feeds to be an online inbox with the email client feel, then things may change.
One other thing - let’s not dwell too much on industry statistics on enterprise social computing. Why? Because the market is still immature in the design of the tools. We need to address the points I have made in this post, and we need to address process-based social computing (which Podio is leading). Another reason why statistics could be better is “are you educated in social business” (do you know social business theory) or is it new to you and you are just implementing it just like any other IT project
24/04/12 NEW POST - Microblogging or Macroblogging…or simply messages
29/12/12 G+ - Facebook Activity log filters
Usually Business Units (BU’s) have a HTML profile page on the Intranet…this is where you go to read what a BU is about, what they offer, who the contacts are, etc…but these pages are usually slow to update and non-interactive.
Some BU’s suggested to me that since their online Community of Practice (online group) is taking off, perhaps they will just have a link on their intranet page to their Community of Practice (CoP)…basically the their intranet page just serving as an entry point (basically a re-direct link)
NOTE: Our CoPs are not just about communication; you can design the homepage however you like using HTML widgets, so they can look very informative like an Intranet page.
Now the problem with this scenario is that a BU online CoP/group is not really something a person not in that BU wants to see as an informative profile page for that BU
ie. online CoPs/groups aren’t usually about informing a general audience, they are about a group of members sharing and learning on a topic…or even doing actual work (yes I know ours are called CoPs, but they are just online group spaces really)
At first I thought BU pages on intranets need to be more like wikis, but then what about a news channel (to inform people) and a feedback channel (for others to ask questions)
How can we have some of the tools we see in our online CoPs/groups, but for a general audience like a BU intranet page serves?
Then it hit me, “Pages”!!!!
A BU will do work/share in online group spaces eg. Facebook groups
A BU will broadcast/inform, and gather feedback from the organisation at large by using a “page” eg Facebook Pages
A Facebook page is similar to a group but designed for a different purpose…a group has “members”, whereas a “page” is “liked”
Only it wouldn’t be Facebook, it would be IBM Connections or Jive or Socialcast or Yammer (yikes Yammer already called their docs/wiki, “pages”)
NOTE: It doesn’t have to be just BU’s, it can be any group who need an online group to enable members to do their thing, but also an online page to inform everyone else
The Mechanical Engineers “online group space” is where members do work and share
The Mechanical Engineers “online page space” is where they broadcast communications to the rest of the organisation on recent happenings, and where people can post questions or share stuff (in Facebook this is called the “wall”)…and it also acts as an “about” page, just like the “Info” section on a Facebook page.
Our Document Management team have an online group space to do work…
…when they have new releases, they need to communicate to the power users of the document management system, these are the project assistants (PA) and document controllers (DC).
At the moment their online group space doubles up as a “page” in that it has an extra blog to communicate to these audiences (PA, DC) and an extra forum for these audiences to ask questions…when PA’s and DC’s visit the Document Management online group space, it’s really not catered to them at all, other than that extra blog and forum which don’t really get much real estate at all on the group space.
It’s true with our current technology, they could just create a new online group space to do this, and cater the whole space to PA’s and DC’s, but it just ‘aint the same purpose-design as a “page”.
So here’s my thinking…
Rather than a team having two online group spaces (one for them, and one for them to communicate to the org which also doubles up as their information profile/about page, like you see on Intranets)…
How about they have one online group space, and one online page!
So basically “pages” are the new type of Intranet/About page for teams…
…whereas groups are where those teams work, which generally speaking most others in the organisation are not going to be that interested in (remember with scale, ambient awareness can become noise)
Just like online groups are not just for teams (you can have a group about anything), same goes with “pages”; not only can teams use a “page” as their general audience page…but any type of event, topic, etc… could use a page
Eg. If I was running an event, I may use a group space to coordinate it with my team, and a “page” space as the actual event webpage that a general audience can read and interact…both spaces have different purpose, therefore are slightly designed differently.
Perhaps if you create a group space, there is always a link in the admin area for you to create a “page” for this group, and vice versa…this way group/page owners are aware of what’s possible.
Anyway this is typical of this space, where the consumer web is years ahead…and yes, often the functional/features do cross over.
NOTE: I came across this just before publishing Facebook Groups Vs Pages: The Definitive Guide
According to Facebook, groups are “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea”…Facebook Pages “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.”
GROUP - share/collaborate (member-based)
PAGE - broadcast/feedback (fan-based)
In other words the “page” is like the quarterly newsletter that is emailed out to the whole organisation telling them what’s being going on in their silo, only now it’s real-time, interactive and more of a social silo…yes the newsletter could still possibly be sent out as a curation of “page” content.
ADDED: I just remembered something, perhaps the concept of “pages” is what Socialcast is aiming for with it’s “Categories” feature, and for Tibbr with its “Subjects” feature.
I don’t post in this blog often as I leave it for long pieces, but don’t get the time lately…you can check out my daily posts at Snippets.
Anyway here’s a good excuse for a post…
Dr Peter John Chen, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney is publishing a book in 2012 about the Internet and Australia, and politics.
As part of it he’s doing research on characteristics of blog readers…I’m happy to help out on his endeavor by asking my readers if they are interested in sparing 5 to 10 minutes on a survey about this topic
The survey is open to readers of the blog who live in Australia.
All responses in the survey are anonymous and confidential.
The survey can be found here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Australian_blog_readers
I will be gaining access to a summary of the results and will share them with those who are interested
Salesforce’s acquisition of Rypple will be the beginning of a new explosion in these peer performance apps (social performance software); it’s not hard to predict that existing enterprise social software suites will either create their own, or acquire small start-ups (now’s a good time for software entrepeneurs to make some potential money). Whether the large enterprise social software suites agree with the effectiveness of these tools or not doesn’t really matter, as they need to keep competitive by not allowing the competition to offer something they don’t have. Hence often something becomes the norm not because it’s a must have purpose-based innovation or fills a pre-existing need; but instead just because everyone’s doing it…or cashing in.
But this post isn’t about this high level view, instead it’s on one particular feature that these peer performance vendors offer; and that’s "recognition/thanks/kudos/recommendation".
For organisations already using social networking tools, I wonder whether it’s going to be effective introducing yet another more specific-based social network. I wonder if instead these functions will be incorporated as new features in existing tools.
But first let’s establish what they are about, lets examine their feature set. Most of them are about changing the performance review process to an ongoing thing, rather than annually…and for it to happen socially online.
The players in the market that I know of are Rypple, Worksimple, Coworkers, Achievers, Saba and now an IBM partner application…get ready for more (eg. Atlassian), especially from Talent Management vendors.
The first time I recall something to this effect was LinkedIn Recommendations Some mildy related tools are Happiily and Niko by Socialcast (which are actually more mood based apps) and Evaluat3.me (this is more a survey about you)
The main feature set of social performance suites are:
- Social Goals (setting objectives, and viewing the status of them on our profile) eg. 20% market growth…what a great way for others to know your progess and achievement
- Performance Summary
- Recognition (Kudos/Thanks/Praise)
View the Rypple features page for an explanation on “social performance”, and how they have created a more meaningful and engaging system that is more than performance appraisal/review, in the way that it’s not so much a review, but coaching goal achievement as it happens (by both leads and peers)…much more transparent, and purposeful.
For the focus of this post the feature I’m most interested in is peer/lead recognition (thanks, praise, kudos, recommendations…) For example Rypple Thanks (read and watch the video).
Then there are existing social network vendors have have incorporated thanks/praise/kudos as a feature eg. Yammer and a few others. Note that thanks/praise/kudos is only one feature of Rypple and the like. Yammer is different than Rypple, but they do have a few overlapping features. Read and watch the video on Yammer Praise.
ADDED: Socialcast also have a “thanks” feature.
Recognise how well I use my social network to generate quality productivity
In a past post, Measuring employee’s on the quality of their work and gifting; based on how well they utilise their online network, I focused on the need of an observation technique where we can acknowledge the productivity employees generate from being socially active online within their organisation. Firstly, for the direct reason of acknowledging their good work-and how it came to being-which needs to be recognised, and secondly that feedback, acknowledgement and recognition are positive conditions for people to continue participating and adopt new ways of working (in this case online social tools).
Please read my post as it quotes from some intelligent and experienced people in this industry, and gets to the heart of the matter of where current organisational design clashes with the cultural shift that begins to take place with the addition of working with social tools (ie. like we shape tools, tools shape society). Especially in relation to being measured on your individual contributions; rather than how well you used your network as sources, or even collaborators on your deliverable…and also the time required to participate, build and nuture relationships in order to have a valuable network in the first place.
Just quickly, I should get kudos for knowing the right people to give me advice in order to churn out a quality deliverable. Why? Because this sends a signal to people that connecting to the talent of others is what we are about, we didn’t just hire you for your individual intelligence. One step further is me actually getting people I’ve sourced to contribute to the deliverable; this should have no impact on how I’m measured for individual contributions, in fact I should get more kudos for the same reason above. If we need to hire a team to do a job in the organisation we scout around in an attempt to source the best available internal experts. Well I’m just doing the same thing for my tasks.
I’ll re-quote Oscar Berg which will give you the gist of the post:
A paradox for employees today is that they really need to connect with and collaborate more with more people, and strengthen their personal networks if they are to deliver better results and strengthen our their positions. One problem they are facing when doing this is that most current incentive models do not reward employees helping their colleagues, unless there is a direct and measurable return on their contributions. Another problem is that many organizations fail at making the contributions that employees do outside of their own team visible, and thus if fails to recognize them. These problems put people in a kind of deadlock position. During uncertain times, most people will simply do what becomes visible and recognized by those who evaluate them, their managers. They will most likely also most be asked or commended by their managers to do so, because their managers are in a similar position as they will be judged by their managers on the visible contributions from the team they are managing (and so it goes on, all the way to the top).
Wow, that’s a great piece!
A resume that’s alive
So how do we change this syndrome?
- not recognising the help and work you do beyond your team, or even within your team (if you are not allowed to spend time in your internal social network, and help others in the first place, then you have a bigger problem…which is what the post linked above is all about…in addition to the adoption obstacle of not being acknowledged for knowing who the best people are to source and help to create a more quality deliverable)
- people only doing what’s going to be visible; rather than what’s best for the business
I once tweeted:
Before we visited the Rolodex, now we live in the Rolodex
…this is my reference to Twitter, Facebook, Yammer and the like. I think the same can be for social work performance
Before we had a static Resume, now we we live in our Resume
…this is a reference to our profile page and how it lists the work we are doing as it happens, comments, likes, recognition, bio links (all this shows off our expertise, respect, dedication, competency, character, passion, etc…what more do you want raw anecdotes of a person in action…and that are continuously updated).
Now this took me away from other work; but I thought it was valuable to work on this. From the perspective of my HTML contact; well his role is not a webdesigner, although he does utilise these skills in his role. In this case because I knew he has these skills I asked if he could utilise them on a task that has nothing to do with him, but is entirely based on the respect and history he has for me (and on top of this he was busy with his own stuff)
So here I am going beyond the call of duty within my team task, and here my colleague is performing work for free, on top of his already busy workload.
If we did this work observably online on a social network like Yammer, I’m sure people would of noticed our hard work, dedication and beyond the call of duty attitude…indirectly we become known for our skills and qualities. The double-edged sword is this could become a burden…I say this because this same colleague was helping out another trusted colleague of ours on a task also not within his portfolio…we are starting to call this "moonlighting"…and he’s I must say, a professional "moonlighter". Anyway, it turns out we did this work in email, so no-one really knows we did this unless we told them, or they saw the finished product (which they still won’t know who was behind it). I told my boss about this work, and he was OK with it, and said good work. But there’s a better way that could have more impact or impression on my peers and boss, and also fulfill my natural human need for a job well done (and everything that cascades from that being displayed in my profile page as part of my capabilities and service as you would see on a resume…only I’m not telling you about it, you are seeing it in action). The task owner also continually thanked me in email as we did the job, and then at the end of the job he couldn’t thank me enough…he mentioned that he owes me a beer or 5
We have the first part down ie. we can now work observably online where people can see the work we do as it happens. ie. not only the work, but the quality of our participation and how we are dedicated to the organisation at large. But what if you weren’t looking, these conversations roll into the archives quite quickly.
Now a more formal way for peers and leads to recognise your work is to issue you kudos/thanks/praise, etc…this is not just done as a comment, but it’s an actual feature eg a type of status update. Your profile page would also be the place that shows off your kudos/thanks/praise. Surely this is DIY career development, and gives you drive to keep doing what you’re doing ie participating…which is a bonus for social tool product managers as it helps with adoption.
Now take a breather…as the next part is important.
Let’s not start gamifying this and create a leaderboard and badges based on levels for all the kudos/thanks/praise you accumulate, and then have this as the basis for decision-making like resource allocation, expertise or which employees to retain based on their badge level. NOTE: Some vendors use descriptive badges, whereas I’m talking about badges that represent an earned expertise level (which could be based on false praise, and invaluable participation…better known as "gaming the system"). Let’s make sure we don’t let the numbers make decisions for us. Why? Because some people that deserve more kudos than others may not have them as the people they helped out haven’t adopted the online social tools in which to issue kudos/praise/thanks…maybe someone with lots of kudos/praise/thanks is less valuable than the next person; but the numbers don’t tell it that way, and what they also don’t tell is that person is gaming the system with others to accumulate kudos/praise/thanks. Also there is valuable, generous and altruistic work being done offline, on the phone, in email, in IM that will miss out on being recognised, due to not being visible…I have posted an anecdote on this before, here it is again:
Someone mentioned today that they hope our organisation doesn’t measure value based on just online communities. That there is so much community activity done on the phone and in meetings that brings value to the business that may not be known about. The concern is that people that are visible are going to get recognition over others that are more offline workers, who may even contribute more value.
When we start basing decisions on badges we are forgoing badgless, but equally capable people. I don’t want to get into gamification in this post, but what once had immediate purpose and respect (recognition and praise), when quantified or turned into a fetish (accumulated into a total and turned into an entity "the badge"), can lead to competition and gaming the system (doing it simply to gain points, and "it" may be not really valuable stuff we need to pay attention to); it may become more of a tail wagging a dog scenario. The system just becomes a whore, or sold out just like film and music has become (SIDENOTE - luckily web 2.0 allows us to enjoy the honest and more true to artform music/film generated from the long tail)
So the thing here is that as long as there is no prize, people are less likely to game the system. Instead the accumulation of praises and kudos are just another aspect to consider when making decisions about recognition, finding experts, bonuses, promotions; rather than the sole aspect. This is contrary to what some in the Dachis group say (like Larry Irons, I was surprised to hear these words from that crowd):
…wouldn’t the decision to promote one of two equally skilled employees would be just a little simpler if one had five more “badges” than the other?
The new 3rd party IBM Connections app called "kudos" just doesn’t sit well with me (mind you I say this hastily without reading too deep or playing with it). In addition to what has been talked about above, they go one step further and award points for participating (need I mention Dan Pink’s book or psychological research on self-determination.
Kudos Badges works by tracking metrics around what users do within IBM Connections. For example when a user posts a Status Update, they get a Kudos Point. When they create a blog, they might get 5 Kudos Points. When someone recommends a file that someone else created, they get 1 Kudos Point and the receiver of the recommendation gets 3 Kudos Points. There are hundreds of potential actions within IBM Connections and Kudos Metrics enables us to track them and reward users for their behaviour. Kudos Metrics are used to award both Kudos Leaderboard points as well as award Kudos Badges. All of the metrics can be customised and you can even create your own metrics and badges. Kudos Badges comes with a heap of predefined metrics and badges to make it easy to get started. They have been designed to not only reward behaviour but also to encourage users to take further action and educate them on the broader capabilities of IBM Connections. In addition to metrics within IBM Connections, Kudos Badges enables you to create metrics for actions and behaviour in external systems. These external metrics can then be used to award custom badges as well as contribute to a users leaderboard score and rank. For example you may have a sales force system that you want to encourage specific behaviour. Or maybe HR Performance Objectives that you want to reward users for achieving. The options are endless!
It’s all good intended, but I fear it may lead to gaming the system, participation just for the sake of it…it’s old skool km, and not sustainable. Sorry I didn’t want this to be a post about gamification, but obviously gamification starts to bleed or take centre stage in some vendor offerings. What I can see happening is that organisations will get lazy on intrinsic motivations, and just rely on game mechanics.
Speaking of IBM this type of participation-based "pointsification" is one of the factor that did harm to one of their internal social networking sites "beehive" (socialblue)…so indeed we have to becareful of something poisoning the system.
This presentation by Rypple tells me they are very different than this and understand the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and that intrinsic motivation needs to be the lead singer.
See my posts by Sebastian Deterding and Jane McGonigal on gamification is nothing without gamefulness. I also did an extensive post on the difference between gamers and employee engagement.
I may do a follow up post on gamification since this post has led us that way…I could keep going on this post about point systems and knowledge markets for sharing knowledge and collaboration, but I’ll elaborate on how gamification is not the answer for that particular context
Always good to finish with some philosophy by Dave Snowden:
Reward systems, linking social obligations to targets and promotion criteria are the single most stupid thing that anyone can do in KM or any other system reliant on social interaction. People will always share with people in the context of proven need, but to share in anticipation of that need will not happen. All that happens if you create a reward mechanism is that people game the system. Its another excuse (like the culture was wrong) for an ill conceived approach