The Art and Science of Social Sudoku

by Dan Robles on 06/14/2011

It’s been a few months since Social Flights entered the market with our February 28th Soft Launch.  Since then we have grown at an amazing rate after getting picked up by a series of important news publications.  But for this article, I would like to talk about what we learned.

He who hesitates, iterates

Learning is a critical element in any organization.  The iterative process is a series of intentional steps that a group of innovators must invariably endure.  The iteration process requires a strategy for introducing new variables to a product or process in such a way that the experimenter can isolate the effects of each change.

Social Flights was very much launched with this in mind. We prioritized the rollout of game features in order to form a player priority profile that will drive this Value Game.  Nobody can simply invent such a thing, it must be observed empirically.  This means that the right conditions must be in place to reveal the right data without bias.  The data can then be used to improve the incentives that drive the game.

Resistance is futile

One of the most daunting challenges has been to identify the skill set for what makes an effective community leader.  The Value Game is a value-based economy that is modeled after the mirror image of a dollar-based economy.  It’s like driving on the left hand side of the road for the first time.  Of course, you need someone who can drive a car – but in a very significant way, you need someone who has never driven a car.  In either case, resistance is fatal (figuratively) and futile (literally). The willingness and ability to iterate is essential.

We do expect the results to surprise us.  We went through many candidates for our social media distribution and engagement office before we found the right skill set; not in a marketer, or in an MBA, or in social media guru – we found the skill set in a Linguist.  This makes perfect sense now – but we did not know that before we started the iterative process.

Easier Said Than Done

A travel community leader needs to solve a simple equation.  Find 18 people to share an 9 – passenger jet (9 flying in each direction) within a certain span of time.  This is much easier said than done – in fact, it’s like trying to solve a big Sudoku puzzle where all the rows, columns, and regions need to add up to the same number with no duplication.  Of course the puzzle gets easier as more people join the community because the probability of finding 9 people that want to go to the same place improves.  But still, someone needs to be on the ground to solve the puzzle.

Help us find the gamers

With that, I invite our readers to help us imagine what skill set would be the starting condition for an iterative process of finding hundreds of entrepreneurial community leaders that can solve this puzzle in diverse communities. I am leaning more and more toward the Gaming community on sites like http://gamification.org to find this skill set.  Any thoughts?  Thank you.

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