‘Amateurs’ are taking over the world. Everywhere you look industries are being disrupted by people in their spare time.
It has gone on for a while in the software development world. Linux popularised open-source, but now thousands of open source project rely on people working on it in their spare time. And the results are staggering. Exact numbers are impossible to get, but surveys show that about 60% of the servers run Linux. And that an even bigger percentage of all the web views on the planet are served by Apache and Nginx.
Then there is of course the case of Wikipedia. Tens of thousands of volunteers who contribute at least once per month to an article. And there is stunning results here too: 22.6 million articles in 270 different languages.
And the virus is spreading. Take a look at Thingverse . It is a site where people share models for 3D-printing. It is not that much yet, but the potential is mind-blowing.
Just as the rise of the personal computer and open source software allowed anyone to write their own software, the rise of 3D-printers and rise of open-source models will soon allow anyone anywhere to manufacture anything.
Joe Justice accidentally tapped into this phenomenon when he wanted to take part in an X-prize to develop a car that would run at least 100 miles per gallon. He just put up a blog to share his progress and soon people started offering help. And now more than a hundred people are working on his car. Wiki-speed, as they call themselves, did not win the X-Prize, but have since broken the 100 mpg barrier in a safe, road-legal, fast sport car. I call that pretty stunning.
So what are you to do? If you do not already have a bunch of people hacking together trying to disrupt your industry you have not looking hard enough. If it is not an open-source project in which people take part in their spare time it is a startup. Simple and Stripe are changing the way we think about banking and payments. Those are industries with some of the highest barriers to entry.
So what are you to do? Become the organisation that they would work for after they check out of the office. When you have no extrinsic motivators, you are stuck with internal motivators, and it turns out those are way more powerful.
Daniel Pink in his famous book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us talks about what he feels are the components of intrinsic motivation. Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. These might not be complete but I find they work really well as a starting point.
All of the organisations score really high on these motivators. Autonomy is fundamental in these organisations. Whoever comes is who comes and anything they contribute is nice. So people contribute what they like. And that’s also usually what they are good at. Mastery is our desire to get better at stuff. And often we do not get a chance to practice new things in the office. It is usually deemed too risky. And last, but not least is Purpose. I strongly believe that almost everyone is interested in making the world a slightly better place. Making money should never be a goal, but a way to make a bigger dent in the universe.
So what would you have to do to keep your people when you could not pay them anymore? Go do those things, engage people fully and give them room for their creativity and stand back. And the best part? After you have taken care of all that you still get to pay them. So they don’t have to run off and change the world in the evening in their basement, but they can do it during the day, in their office.Tags: employee engagement, wiki, wiki-speed