(photo from stock.xchng)
Imagine an environment characterized by the following:
- It is as easy to get started for a newbie as for an experienced professional
- The time from preparation to execution is really short
- You can do it anywhere, any time
- You can set your own goals
- You can do it in your own pace
- You can get guidance and coaching on demand from experts and mentors
- You get immediate feedback about your progress and performance
- You can easily coordinate and share your activities with other people
- Real-time positive feedback from people you trust help you refuel when your energy levels are low
- Your performance is documented in the flow instead of as a separate activity, adding no extra work load
- You can evaluate your own efforts and progress and adjust your goals
- You can make your performance and achievements visible to your environment
- There are many ways, requiring no effort, for others to recognize and celebrate your achievements
- By being able to make your activities visible and recognized by other people, you influence more people to follow your example
I know of many people who, like me, have never been running regularly before, who have even seen running as something dreadfully boring and painful, and who slowly have turned into runners. Their reasons for running might vary, such as improving their health, losing weight, or becoming part of a community or social group. Regardless of their reasons, some are not at a point where running has become a part of their social identity. By that point, it's virtually impossible to stop. They have developed an intrinsic motivation for running and rely less and less on the extrinsic motivation and rewards once helped them getting started.
The key to this trend has been environment that motivates people to run and triggers certain behaviors. A lot of techy things like smartphones, mobile apps, GPS, presence, cloud computing, gamification and social software have been used to create this environment. Yet, it couldn’t have been created without a deeper understanding of what motivates people and how to design an environment that triggers the right behaviors.
So the bottom line is this: If the environment described above can turn almost anyone into a runner, we can be pretty sure that a work environment that is designed with an understanding of what make people more motivated, collaborative and productive at work, and where performance models and management practices are adjusted accordingly, can turn an underperforming business to one that thrives and outperforms its competitors.