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Social collaboration in the workplace and the six human needs

We all know by now that social collaboration is hot. I recently read an article by Linda Tucci titled "Make social passion the cornerstone of enterprise collaboration" which I found very interesting. Harnessing people's passion it says, will greatly increase the effectiveness of organizations and take it to levels that cannot be matched by other means.


The hype around workplace collaboration is focused mainly on taking the social experience of the internet and bringing it into the workplace but is that the answer? I believe deeper thought is required here in order to understand what users get out of their internet social experience and find the right way to migrate it. My bet is that this migration won't be as is.


In the last few years, I have been studying Anthony Robbins's system for personal growth and fulfillment. Robbins talks about the six human needs that are certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution. As I'm exposed more and more to the social networking phenomena I keep asking myself how come Facebook is so addictive? but more importantly, what has to be done to migrate its addictive qualities to the enterprise. I believe I have a good answer based on the six human needs.
People who are heavy users of facebook enjoy a great deal of:
Variety - They get to talk about everything and nothing - a plethora of subjects.
Significance - When one posts on facebook, not only do his friends read it but the friends of his friends. This is instant exposure to a huge audience and instant significance.
Connection - A lot has been said about facebook friends and how this is not true friendship but setting that aside, one feels connected to a very large community through facebook.

If we consider Farmville then Growth and Contribution are also satisified through maintaining ever growing farms and the ability to give to your Facebook friends.

According to Robbins, any activity that satisfies at least three of the six human needs is addictive. Interesting wouldn't you say?
Why isn't email so addictive? It's more restricted in the size of its instant community so significance in email doesn't exist and connection is very limited.
My interest, as you know by now lies within the realm of the enterprise. When designing a social collaboration tool for the enterprise, what can we learn from Facebook and what do we change?
Significance and connection are definitely relevant to a community of professionals working within an organization. If such a tool increases one's exposure to colleagues and allows more channels to open then these two needs will be highly satisfied.
What about variety? Unlike the public domain, workplace collaboration is about the stuff you do as part of your work. Naturally, people will want variety in the workplace but the social collaboration won't provide that pers se. People will go to facebook for such variety.
So what third human need can we provide in an enterprise environment, making this tool addictive?
I say certainty. One of the things required in a work environment and lacking in existing products is the feeling that no task will be left behind. Users must know that if it needs to get done then it's in there and that if it's completed it is no longer there.
My bet is that significance, connection and certainty are what will make successful enterprise collaboration tools highly effective and addictive.

In addition, for knowledge sharing scenarios, people can get a lot of growth and contribution through helping others and learning from colleagues in their day to day work.


I'm very curious to see how this storyline develops.

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About the Author
I'm a 20 year veteran in the software industry with experience ranging from control systems, communications systems, RAD systems and for the...

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