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Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Help Us Hack Right Now


posted on
June 10th, 2012
comments
8 comments
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Working Smarter

Help! We are in the midst of a hackathon and need your opinion in the next couple of hours.
  

It’s the morning of day 2 at the Reinventing Business Hackathon in San Francisco.

Do you want to reconnect business with society’s needs? Do you believe in the power of technology to unlock the human potential inside organizations? Do you want to enable companies and the people within them to make better decisions and have a positive impact on our world?

We’re challenging creative minds in design, technology, business, and academia to build a more human and truly social enterprise. Join us for an interdisciplinary hackathon to develop products, services, and tools that transform business from within.

My team is working on a web app to measure and report employee happiness and stress level. The big picture is that organizations focus on what they can measure. I’ll explain the app it in a minute.

We need your help.

Our request

We’re presenting the concept about five hours from now. The judges (we’re competing with 18 other teams) want external validation, i.e. your opinion of whether this will fly. Please give me your opinion in a comment to this post or by emailing me.

The application

In version 1.0, an employee rates her happiness and stress level at work once a day. She can also comment on likes or gripes at work.

Everyone’s input is aggregated by company (based on company email address) to produce a company-by-company comparison that’s available for all to see.

We expect companies will want to take this technology in-house. Employee responses will be kept confidential; only aggregate data will be reported.

The in-house version will generate reports by division (for senior management radar) and work group (to give dynamic feedback to coaches and supervisors).

Also, the in-house version can incorporate:

Here’s a sample management report:

  

Do it now

Will this work? Please note your role in your answer so we can incorporate it into our presentation.

Thanks.

8comments

  • Sarah Murray - June 10, 2012 at 10:17 am -

    Employee motivation and happiness is a cloudy, murky, mutable data point. By having a daily barometer which is pulled into an aggragate a company has the ability to get the elusive “pulse” in a big picture way as well as dept by dept. With the changing workforce, the upcoming deluge of millenials, the daily generation of feeling and posts thanks to Facebook, this app taps into the need for daily feedback while providing metrics a corporation needs.

  • Clark Quinn - June 10, 2012 at 10:55 am -

    Organizations need a tighter cycle of feedback than the quarterly or yearly review. This takes the temperature in a more tightly coupled model. Installed in the right way, it could lead to a greatly increased interchange of information. The requirements to make it work are anonymity and a way that participation is rewarded. People will use things if they find value. Have to support gaming it in useful ways. The org should find value from this, so you just need a fair exchange.

  • Hans - June 10, 2012 at 11:46 am -

    Great idea and a lot of research is done in this area ( http://www.mirror-project.eu)

    I agree there is a need to reward participants but is the “I can share my opinion and i will be heard” not enough? Management will need to commit and demonstrate follow up.

    But what about privacy? You might be taking shortcuts as i expect employees will hesitate ( or bias their input) and companies do not want this info outside the firewall

    Would be great if you share youre results.

    Hans

  • Brian Yearling - June 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm -

    Cool idea but there needs to be reciprocity built in where an employee can look at the app to see how the company has responded to the data that I and my colleagues have supplied. Otherwise my voice hasnt been heard and my time has been wasted.

  • John Sumser - June 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm -

    Will the app help improve the shortcomings of business today:?

    Yes, current feedback loops are measure in months and years. Yhe pulse of the business is moment to moment

    Will this have a positive impact on the way businesses collaborate internally?

    Maybe. One of the risks of this sort of approach (like much of current management) is that it treats organizations as if all employees were doing the same thing and could be measured in the same way. Another risk here is that if I am going to be rated, I may never want to do remarkable work. The other part of this is the problem of grade inflation. If you look at facebook, you’ll notice that no one sys anything negative. Group measurements might introduce a false sense of positive.

    Will people use this? Might it go viral?

    It jus might go viral.

    Would your organization use it?

    This would need to come in the front door through internal advocates who simply start using it. Then the organization might adopt it.

    Any suggestions for improvement?

    Find ways to account ffor trends that are larger than moment to moment. Also, note that organizational life is full of times where lots of stress and unhappiness is appropriate.

  • Peter Shukie - June 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm -

    I think it pretty much depends on the organisation’s philosophy regarding staff voice/ employee engagement. The risk is creating a tick box mentality toward how responses are considered, the reward would be a fluid, responsive source of how people are operating, psychologically as well as productively. Culture too is significant, I work as a lecturer in higher education in the UK and the nationality and the sector differentiates it from other UK Organisations, public & private – extrapolate that multi-nationally and sector by sector and locating key indicators is difficult. Some people would suggest out management – hierarchical, distant, communique by mass email – would live to have a positive happiness indicator, but would be less likely to take the chance of revealing a low happiness s ore and high risk score.
    As an employee, I would welcome such an option of communication that, by definition, would operate betonf personal gripes and give an indication of how the whole body of faculty/ staff are – and any shared gripes could be highlighted early. That also requires it to be taken on at a level of responsibility, somebody has to be in position to look at the data & make changes where necessary – the dialogue can’t stop at the end of the ‘submit’ button, but begin there.
    One thing I did think while typing as employee is that I’d like it for work with students – a smaller micro group that I feel I could make immediate response to.
    Perhaps that’s the key – having the app in place in contexts where stress/ happiness gauges can be acted on. That should be everywhere, I know, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.
    Interesting idea though, and I’ll be interested in how it goes – good luck and a brilliant ethos driving the whole thing
    Best wishes
    Peter

  • Mitul Sarkar - June 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm -

    Mr. Cross, the app is a nice idea.

    Am reading this late Sunday evening. Perhaps you already worked this out, but the app as described above seems to focus on retrograde and current analysis of employee emotional state, and it needs cumulative previous data to form a retrograde picture The app can be even better if it allows “looking ahead” – for that, an Employee reporting unhappiness and increased stress can be presented with extra questions, separately for happiness and stress:

    1. During what part of the last 2 months have you felt this unhappy/stressed due to the job-related issues?
    Answers to this will help quickly form a snapshot of employee emotional state in the recent past, show if there is a general pre-existing trend, and prod companies to ask themselves why their employees’ emotional state shows that trend – helps get buy-in with the companies! Importantly, answering the question helps the employee put the current state in perspective, so introspection and self-awareness are improved.

    2. In how many days/weeks do you envision getting back to your baseline state of happiness/stress?
    Answers to this help determine, among other things, the employee’s levels of optimism, hope, and whether the emotional state is linked to a predictable/controllable stressor like a project deadline, etc.

    By the way, Mr. Cross, I had suggested to Frog (tweeted) that they allow teams on site to recruit remote participants/teammates from the pool of ReinventBiz applicants that didn’t make it to the invitees. I’m glad to see that you thought of crowdsourcing along similar lines. If you would have used the @ or #ReinventBiz on Twitter, I would have probably seen your questions during the hackathon hours and, maybe, been of some help.

    I commend your idea for the app. Good luck!

  • Patrick POIRAUD - June 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm -

    Just take a look here : https://u-ston-demo.comatek.fr
    You will have a fine demo of the application you’re looking for !
    That is to say : “No qualification -old psychology models- , just captation !”

    let’s take an example :it’s sunday, you have a big stomach ache. You go to Urgencies they say ” Don’t worry, we will investigate what you have” (you can’t stand the pain anymore..). They make you all analysis : echography, radio, blood analysis, tests, and so on…at the end doctors tell you ” we made all tests and ananlysis to identify what you have…and we’re happy to tell you tat you have NOTHING, all is OK !. So the pain you have is only in your head not real….Maybe you need a psychologist help ?” ….
    But you have pain, you feel pain for real, and it’s not a vdream, it’s reality for you !
    So, do you think you will act during the day -with the pain you feel- as normally, as the doctors told you ? Or do you think you will act the day according the pain you feel ?
    It’s exactly the difference between “QUALIFICATION” and “FEELING”
    And what will finally your day ?
    QUALIFICATIOn or WHAT YOU FEEL ?
    Answer is obvious….
    It’s exactly why we don’t rely on QUALIFICATION models in our applications but we just rely on what people will feel and appreciate. It is THAT that is important, and not what any doctor or any qualification model will tell about …ME !

    ;-)

    Patrick, COO comatek SAS.

    PS: Ok it’s in french but is on international traduction right now ….

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