Have you ever gone out of your way to eat at a restaurant just so you could regain your mayorship on Foursquare? A little bit of friendly competition can be a powerful way to change behavior. There is a corollary in the enterprise, and it goes far beyond location. Making the transformation to a social business is going to require new technology, and changes in process and culture. Recently I met with the leadership team from a Houston-based company named ChaiOne who is tackling this opportunity.
While Foursquare is an individual competition, Tribes puts people into teams to accomplish quests and earn rewards for business outcomes like completing an e-learning course, or submitting your time report. You and your tribe grow experience points by doing things like sharing knowledge. Each Tribe has a leader, and members can even switch tribes if they have the permission of both Tribe leaders. If you are into such topics as game theory, social psychology, and game mechanics you will understand how this goes far beyond the simple mayorship or a completion badge.
When there’s an impetus and/or incentives that make people want to contribute, participate, and collaborate in achieving goals, your organizational culture fundamentally changes.
The recurring theme heard in every organization’s journey into becoming more social, is how to change the company culture to lose its command and control attitude, organize itself more like a network, be more collaborative, and to stop hoarding and start sharing information.
What better way to change behavior than to introduce elements of gaming and competitiveness? Think of the Foursquare leaderboard. Everybody wants to see their name in the Top 10. What if your Tribe is depending upon you to complete a task for success? Peer pressure is also a powerful motivator. You might just find that people are turning in their expense reports on time for a change, completing that online e-learning program that they’ve been neglecting, or finishing quarterly reviews of their staff.
In Kate Niederhoffer’s talk at the Social Business Summit in Austin, she referred to a study in social psychology by Elliot Aronson in 1992 that showed that you could change someone’s behavior if they were made aware of an issue, and made a commitment to change their behavior. Not changing creates a hypocrisy condition that introduces an uncomfortable level of cognitive dissonance. One way to make people mindful of a desired behavior is to make a commitment to the rest of their Tribe, and to be on a continual quest to earn badges and points for desired business outcomes.
An example of this might be an employee who you would like to attain a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification status. Rather than just another task, this could become a quest in which the employee is made aware of the benefits of the PMP course knowledge, and makes a commitment to their Tribe to complete the quest. Having the quest badge uncompleted on their intranet page for all their Tribemates to see creates constant mindfulness of the task. Someone in a mentor role could also assign points or other benefits for using PMP principals on-the-job.
The Push/Pull of Your Team
Applications like Foursquare and Gowalla are in their infancy, but it is this type of technology, attention to culture and behavior change, combined with support for processes that will help organizations become more socially calibrated.
The way that we work, interact, and reward people in the enterprise of tomorrow will be very different. How likely is your organization to adopt similar concepts?