Ruined By Results

by Jay Deragon on 03/29/2011

As more and more organization chase social media as a channel to engage consumers for a result the more they will learn that consumers have a different result in mind. Results, the holy grail of management by objectives, is what many try to create and measure as justification for use of social media. Every business is motivated to produce results but most business fail to understand what produces results. The same applies to understanding what results social media produces.

The trouble is that chasing results actually can produce the wrong result. The outcomes of all this social stuff represent complex systems (people and organizations) that may behave not at all like we would expect or think. The attraction of social media to the human network is driven by intrinsic motivation, cooperation, collaboration, ethical behavior, trust, creativity, and joy of engagement. Scientific studies have shown that if you want engagement the following are attributes that attract the human network to engage.

  1. Autonomy: Self directed engagement encourages creativity and innovation
  2. Mastery: The human urge to get better at something
  3. Purpose: People will create things and give them away for free to fulfill a purpose to contribute.
  4. True motivation comes intrinsically rather than extrinsically

Social media has become a tool that addresses each of the four things above that tap into intrinsic motivation to engage, share, collaborate and create the things that satisfy the human thirst for participation.

Organizational use of social media ought to be designed to enable the factors that lead to better performance: “autonomy, mastery and purpose” [not a demand for results].  Social media came from open source software is created by highly skilled people contributing their time to collaborative projects that are then given away (such as Linux, Ruby, Apache). For large efforts their are often people paid by companies to contribute to the open source software but many people contribute 20-30, and more hours a week for free to such efforts, why? “Challenge, mastery and making a contribution”

When the profit motive becomes removed from the purpose motive, bad things happen. The results you asked for are the results you’ll get but they are the wrong results.

The best use of all things social ought to start with a respect for people, an understanding of psychology and validating beliefs with data. Those that want to optimize all things social have to learn and adapt their organizational practices to what is actually effective. So what is effective? Motivating the human network to engage to make your organization, our society and our world a better place.

Consider research results exploring human motivation and ideas on how to manage organization given the scientific research on motivation. Take the time to watch this video.

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