First, I want to note some inspiration. At the 2011 Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, Socialtext co-founder and SlideShare VP of Business Development Ross Mayfield gave a keynote. In that keynote, he described the next trend in Enterprise 2.0 as “goal-oriented social software”. As you can see in the tweet, a number of us agree.
A good question to ask is, “what does goal-oriented” mean?
I look at it this way. Goals are people effecting change. Goal-oriented social software channels people’s resources toward a defined objective.We’re seeing the rise of goal-oriented social software. Examples include: Spigit, OpenIDEO, Kickstarter, 99Designs, Quirky and Crowdcast. And I think it’s something we’re seeing more generally in society, in terms of movements like the Arab Spring and OccupyWallStreet.
I want to set up two frames for what goal-oriented social software is. The first one is “social meets crowdsourcing”. Crowdsourcing is an integral part of goal-oriented social software. Soliciting contributions across a diverse group, outside one’s social graph.It’s the assembling of bits to create a new reality.
The second frame is this: “social meets ERP”. Now, does that sound bad? Well let me explain. “Social” is predicated on knowledge, participation and sharing. “ERP” is about process, targets and rules. Goal-oriented social software starts from its social origins, but needs some of the structure exemplified by ERP to achieve outcomes. And just to be clear, I’m not saying that ERP itself is goal-oriented social software…
Putting this another way, “Goals give structure to participation”. The salient quality of a goal is that it requires people to row in the same direction.There are three elements of goal-oriented social software that I want to cover. Target – what are you trying to achieve? 2. Rules – how are you going to get there? 3. Evaluation – did you make it?
Targets clarify participation. Classic social software, properly by the way, is premised on wide open contributions. People sharing what they and think, across myriad topics. This is right. This is good.But with goal-oriented social software, contributions need to be more directed. Participants will have a clear sense of what to post.There’s another, less obvious benefit to targets. They are fantastic for eliciting participation. Here’s how. Did you know we have 15,000 thoughts a day? Over time, we accumulate a lot of cognitive assets. But if you were to go to an employee, and say “blog!”, you’ll likely get a question back like, “blog about what?” It’s the paradox of choice. Infinite choice.Targets pull out those specific items from our brains that we might otherwise not submit. They give structure to people’s participation.
When I say “targets”, I’m not talking activity metrics. In this case, this is not goal-oriented social software.
Rather, targets should provide tangible business benefits.This is Kickstarter. In Kickstarter, you post a project you’d like to get funded. You include how much you want to raise. Then people decide whether they like you project and back it with money. This may be one of the clearest targets that relate to a tangible business benefit you’ll see. Namely, the ability to move forward with the project.
I’ll open with this: ‘Rules’ is not a four-letter word. There are three things that rules do for goal-oriented social efforts. First, they provide a guide for the types of contributions desired, and how they’ll be evaluated. Second, people have a common basis for comparing different contributions. Third, they are instructions for people, which is important as we see different methods for participation. But there’s an important consideration about rules. Call it the “Golden Rule of Rules”. Keep them few and simple. Go too far down the X-axis, and you lose the value.
I recognize that rules can undermine the ethos of social software. Some might look at rules in this context.
But amazing can happen with just a few simple rules.There’s a site called FoldIt, where anyone can participate. The object is to figure out to fold proteins. This is actually quite challenging, and hard to solve. Yet correctly folding a protein reveals key information about their structure, useful in genetics and medicine.FoldIt only has three simple rules, but look at the results! Rank amateurs were able to solve an AIDS-related protein structure problem that had stumped scientists for years.
Progress requires evaluation. Keep in mind that goals generally require resources to achieve, and not every submission can be accepted and acted upon. Evaluation is a critical phase for allocating scarce resources.Evaluation is also an activity that assesses how well a submission fits with the stated goal. That’s not to say submissions don’t all have intrinsic merit. But determination must be made about how well they fit the desired goal.Finally, evaluation is, quite simply, the application of analysis and judgment. The type of activities done every day in organizations.
And no, not everything social needs to be evaluated. You’d get some strange looks if you said you wanted to evaluate a Yammer post. Also, I know the knowledge management movement was hampered by having someone evaluate whether a given bit of knowledge was fit to be added to a domain.
For goals, on the other hand, evaluation yields results. For example, education materials company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt issued the Global Education Challenge, seeking ideas to improve learning in the classroom. They had three evaluation criteria for the submissions:1. Impactful2. Unique3. AdaptableAn external board evaluated the 438 submissions they received. The top 3 were selected after this evaluation process, with the first place winner receiving $100,000 prize. By the way, they’re plowing that back into developing their idea.
I want to conclude with this table. Four characteristics that distinguish goal-oriented social software from classic social software.Orientation: Classic has its roots in knowledge. Goal-oriented is rooted in achievement.Acknowledgement that not contributions are created equal: In classic social software, we all tacitly know whose contributions are more valued, and whose are less. With goal-oriented, it’s an explicit declaration.Social objects: Four types of content define classic social software. With goal-oriented, you’re going to see a wide variety of social objects.Dominant graph: The defining graph of classic is the social graph. This reflects the arrival of social networking inside the enterprise. With goal-oriented, the defining graph is the interest graph. Seeking people whose interest is piqued by the stated goal.
AMAZING HAPPENS WITH JUST A
FEW RULES Participants cracked a longstanding problem - the structure of a protein called retroviral protease - in AIDS research that scientists puzzled over for years. They did it in three weeks.@bhc3
EVALUATION YIELDS RESULTS 1 2
3 Pocket Tales: An Online Education Hotspots for eGuided Reading Social Reading Game Areas with no Internet (Reading Glue) Infrastructure@bhc3
GOAL-ORIENTED IS DIFFERENT Characteristic Classic
Social Goal-Oriented Software Social Software Orientation knowledge achievement Acknowledgement that not all tacit explicit contributions are created equal Social objects wikis, blogs, wide variety forums, microblogs Dominant graph social interest@bhc3