May 2009


As a “techie” and a manager of techies, this is a question deserving regular review.  This topic can be a challenge as we may not fully understand this about ourselves or we may rely on conditioning to express what’s perceived to be right answer.  Of course we are all unique and not motivated by the same factors –knowing ourselves and each team member as an individual is important.  Even individual needs and interests will change over time!

What should we do?  Setting aside time to think about this is important for one’s own personal growth and also as a manager to better understand your team.   What gets us excited?  Which are show stoppers?  Which is irrelevant?  Below is a list of motivators I have seen over the years along with questions worth asking yourself. 

  1. The Work & Technology – This should be a primary motivator for everyone.  If you are coming to work simply as a job the results will clearly reflect – and I would suggest one re-evaluate!  This need not imply you are working on the next “big thing” but simply does your work engage you mentally.
  2. Competition – Are you motivated by a desire to be part of the “best” product in a category?  Are you willing to go above and beyond simply for this satisfaction?  How does knowing that your product is an industry leader (or laggard) impact you? 
  3. The People & Team – Do you enjoy working with the members of your team?  Do you respect them, do they show respect for you?  Do you feel challenged by your team?  One way to consider this– would you be willing to take a pay cut or work on less exciting tasks to stay on a team?
  4. HW, Tools & Environment – How much does top notch HW and software technologies, office environment, and office surroundings (i.e. like a campus) impact you?  If given the choice, would you choose a new advanced HW and/or tools over say a raise or different team?  Or would you change companies to work in a more collaborative environment?
  5. Culture – I have seen this turn quickly to a de-motivator!  How much are the following important to you:  empowerment, decision making process, trust, respect, and realistic schedules?   Does your business actually value family balance (not just printed on a plaque on the wall)?  How about encouraging charitably giving and volunteer service?
  6. Recognition – Some folks are motivated by individual and/or team recognition, much like the record books for sports teams.   They thrive on visible recognition for the work they have completed (and this is not bad).  How does your company recognize folks who have gone above & beyond?  How does your company recognize and value longevity?
  7. Compensation – While folks need to earn a living, compensation may not be a primary motivator for everyone.  An interesting way to look at this – would an additional 10% (or decrease in 10%) cause you to change jobs?  No doubt there is a tipping point if your salary is out of line, but I’ve seen through experience that when it gets down to salary it may be masking other factors from above.

I would expect most would say these are all part of the job satisfaction equation, but also appreciate that each carries a different weight. 

  • As employees it is important to consider what motivates you and then communicate to your manager. 
  • As a manager we must get to know our team at an individual level and maintain this awareness over time. 

A stable, committed and tenured team is absolutely critical to success.  These are teams that will pull through tough times together, pool their talent to innovate in all areas, and leverage their tenured knowledge and experience to work efficiently.  Ultimately these teams will become high performing and stand out – so its important you do your part to understand your needs!

How would you rank the above attributes?  Are there any where you will not compromise?  Are there elements which do not matter to you?  Any elements you would add to the list?

Is Twitter poised to become a public enterprise message bus enabling a new range of transactional applications?  You can already see this happening with new on-line services/applications which (following your registration) monitor your twitter feed for specific/tagged data which is captured for use within the application.

For example http://www.fuelfrog.com/ will collect your auto fuel and mileage information – which you publish with your mobile twitter client when you are filling up.

The uses could become far reaching.   Some examples might include

  • Manage expenses real-time using twitter
  • Manage contacts & calendar events
  • New (enhanced) “devices” which publish transactional information for your use by applications

The simplicity, universal access and proven scale of Twitter are part of what make this possible.  It has a rich set of mobile clients making it very practical to participate in real-time from anywhere.   Twitter is continuing to support significant growth with fewer down times.  And Twitter provides a simple yet powerful public API allowing applications to connect.

One big challenge is privacy.   Currently Twitter status updates are wide open (unless you password protect) and expect you don’t want this type of data public, nor would your followers want to be distracted by it.  Maybe a feature allowing a category to be associated with updates (default would be status) and then clients could leverage this in queries to filter data messages.   Or maybe the direct messages could be leveraged – however this would be limiting as it prevents multiple applications from receiving an update.

Could this be in the future of Twitter?   I think the possibilities would be exciting especially with the rapid explosion of mobile devices with application stores and on-line services.

With the rapid adoption of social media and use cases, are we seeing the birth of a new content structure with a need for management?   Instead of a content having only a single dimension, content of the future will be a composite which includes the enrichment of social activities.  Leveraging the full value of this enriched content will require looking at this content differently including new tools.

The term “social media” has gained prominence in reference to the various forms of content used in social circles – blogs, tweets, micro blogs, wikis, bookmarking, podcasts, UGC, etc.  While these technologies and content have led to an introduction of software to monitor the social activities in user centric manner – what about looking at it from a content threaded view?  Ultimately these social activities help to enrich, promote, correct, and clarify various content sources.

What if instead we had a concept labeled Social Content that effectively drew a connection through the social world to create content which leverages the power of community to become enriched?  This new content much like any other will have needs for tracking, capturing and viewing.  For example, I can imagine users might want to embed a piece of “Social Content” into an application allowing users the ability to see and interact with the additional dimensions of this content in real time. 

Current Social Media modeling

Today the social media landscape generally is viewed as:

socialcontent_current

 Here you can see how the focus is more centered around the base content type with links/references in/out based on social technology.  As social activities have increased, we are seeing tools to help tie activities together, often around a user model – showing their tweets, blogs, status changes, etc.

New “Social Content”

Now imagine if we considered a new form of content taking shape which more represents an active multi-dimensional content that at any one time is the composite of the base content (or multiple) and the various activities which have occurred around this content.

socialcontent_future

For example, someone publishes a video which then gets reference within a blog, tweeted about, emailed, commented on – each step of the way adding more information about this content and either enriching or possibly extending the content.  Even social analytics data, i.e. Twitter trends, could be correlated to the content and activity.

Just as a picture communicates more than words and video more than pictures – social content recognizes that community communicates more than individual

Managing Social Content

Treating this information as a new form of content will allow for it to be tracked, used, embedded, referenced – allowing the additional dimensions to be available and visible as part of the content.   One challenge in managing the content is the consideration that data exists across multiple tools, technologies and interfaces – and will likely remain this way.   Another challenge will be how to uniquely identify this data – likely to leverage the base content as part of the identification.   I am hoping to go into more detail on these challenges in a follow-up posting.

Using Social Content

Consider, for example, how someone might share a blog about a restaurant which could then be enriched with references to write-ups, information about the type of food and even other pictures/video.  This entire experience could be automatically identified and “packaged” as social content which could then be used in another blog, online publication, etc.   In practice one might embed a piece of social content into a power point or blog and the viewer widget would provide access to the original content along with the additional dimensions of community input.  These additional dimensions could reflect a point-in-time snapshot or live real-time updating content.

Now what?

While I have seen related concepts, I have not yet found a technology which captures this as described above.  In a follow-up I hope to further discuss the vision, challenges, and ideas for managing this content including usability considerations.  I would welcome any input!