25 February, 2013

Action Oriented Workflow and Social Oversight: Promoting integrity in the emancipated workforce

As I continue to plot the course of the launch of WorkNetz I have been engaging potential clients in conversation about what action oriented workflow does for emancipating the lives of workers. Usually after hearing that the system is designed to both optimize the ability for an employer to find the right worker for a given task and that it simultaneously emancipates the workforce so that people can work on their own schedules, the next question is:

"How do you ensure that people are doing good work and not gaming the system?"

The answer to this question was very simple and was already in effect as far as 2007, social oversight. The use of a social network to embed the discovery of completed actions in a timeline feed allows the completion of work to be judged by peers of those performing the work. Social oversight is what prevents employees or workers from performing shoddy work as workers that do so will be socially shamed. Not only will they be more likely to have the same work rerouted to them (and thus reduce their  action delta evaluations for those types of work and be merited more highly by the ADA algorithm subsequently) but they will be publicly pointed to as a person with high integrity for executing a given task.

Moreover, social oversight can be embedded with particular attributes that make it hyper efficient:

Social Normalization: 

Invisible eyes promote good behavior, bad behavior is always seen. When people know they are being watched they tend to behave better, or at least in alignment with what is deemed "better" for the group performing the observation. Many studies in psychological theory back this up and using it in a business context enables the power of this normative social control to be applied toward ensuring that workers are acting in the best interest of the business and their selves in an optimal manner for both.

 All behavior can be discussed and all discussions can be subscribed to. The power of discussion threads, common to social networks to business social networks is that in process work can be collaborated on in real time and without a specific separate action to "collaborate" taken on the part of the committing or delegating agents. Since, AOW guarantees the ability for actions taken against business objects to broadcast to the social group that the  worker belongs to via their work feed, it guarantees signalling to those in that circle that can flag errors or provide insights that can modulate the process. Possible types of bad behavior in such systems including "gaming", attempts to collude for example to gain artificial delta agrandizement but social normalization shines a light on such attempts and allows for the social shaming that will nip it in the bud. Good behavior is further promoted by using incentive's as persuasion.

Incentives as persuasion:

Good behavior can further be promoted by using "Accolades", business equivalent of "likes" but with power applied directly to modulate bonus dispensation. One can imagine a system where key stake holders designated in the workflow have the ability to grant "accolades" to tasks completed by agents, separately these accolades can be set to trigger automatic bonuses when certain numbers are dispensed to the agents. Work can directly be valued for the merits of it's completion beyond just the fact of it's expedient and correct commitment.

Another powerful incentive can be using gamification, in social games like Farmville and others available on social networks...the idea of virtual currencies is so powerful that it has enabled companies like Zynga to be billion dollar companies and without providing any real good or service other than the satisfaction that one is better at growing virtual plots of land. The sale of virtual goods on those services coupled with the innate social incentives of competition under observation by ones peer group are enough to get real people to pay real money for virtual goods so they can achieve a virtual victory.

Applying this concept in the business world offers even greater stickiness factor as the agents would be competing for real value in terms of actual compensation and bonus (or goods such as vacation days or gifts). Using game boards to socially compare agents with similar functional roles or  levels of achievement in a public fashion would make it incredibly compelling to keep workers on task and focused when they are working. Combined with the social normalization elements they would also be focused on doing the best job and would avoid attempts to game the system for fear of social shaming.

Open Performance History:

Another extremely important aspect to social oversight is the fact that there is over time a visible and public history of the performance of agents at particular tasks and subtasks. This history would be deep and could be inspected by all permitted and socially connected peers. Social performance histories serve as a basis of pride for those with great records while serving for a basis of achievement for those with not so great records. The rising tide of social oversight essentially raises all the boats of each particular agent in a multiply efficient synergy of the indicated elements.


Social oversight is uniquely effective when coupled with the innovation provided by Action Oriented Workflow that no agents *have to do* any of the actions that appear in their action inboxes. This blog post explained this innovation but it is important to realize that as the Employer is now able to range across a vast pool of potential agents, and as ADA is able to globally assess their action deltas in real time for any work dispensed the employer is made more efficient with larger scale of candidate workers. At any given time a larger percentage of this pool of workers is likely to be *available* and willing to do work and thus combined with the social over sight elements indicated above this creates a new level of optimization across multiple levels that had previously not been possible.

Further, since the worker agents are able to range free across their value landscape of things they can potentially do for multiple potential employers, they have a strong incentive to contribute to tasks only when they are most desirous of doing so. Of course this varies for many different types of business processes across different types of verticals but the point is, so far as any existing business process or workflow that utilizes human system interaction is concerned an AOW enabled system will be able to optimize those processes in a low cost, transparent and efficient fashion  that has yet been possible by any other automated process.



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