Staff crowdsourcing pilot using Spigit

My last post talked about my experiences as a moderator of a public crowdsourcing site and included a quick usability analysis.

I’ve also been involved in an internal pilot project to evaluate the Spigit platform as a method of harvesting ideas from staff.

Most of the platforms that I have looked at use a voting/rating mechanism, combined with comments and discussion in order to bubble ideas to the top.  I’ve been using the Spigit platform for the past month and it immediately stands out as wildly different from the other platforms.  It has the same voting/rating mechanisms plus comments and discussion.  But Spigit uses more sophisticated  techniques to sift out the best ideas.

Algorithms based on human behavioural science, not only track ideas but also people.  It is similar to the Google PageRank method where influential websites add weight to other websites by linking to them.  In this crowdsourcing space, influential people add weight to others’ ideas.  You become influential by posting ideas and comments, being voted for and becoming an expert in certain fields.  This method helps separate the masses who vote for an idea (but who individually have little influence and do not support the idea any further) from the singleton influencers, innovators and collaborators who are actively constructive in creating, promoting and nurturing ideas.

On Spigit, ideas must pass through a series of phases before they are considered viable and emerge at the other end of the funnel process.  The phases span from having to hit simple pageview targets and creating buzz, to recruiting people into a virtual idea team and then “floating” your idea on the internal virtual stock market.  And it’s possible to upload documents and videos to support ideas and discussion.

Sounds complex?  Compared to the other platforms where you just vote and comment, it is.  Yet, having used it, other theories along the lines of “most popular idea wins” start to reek of the playground.  It becomes clear that “idea quality” and “influential backing” are more important factors in sifting the intelligence and elevating the good, rather than popular, ideas.

To use the Spigit system, you must signup and create a user account, which comes pre-loaded with virtual currency.  There is also a viral flavour to the system allowing teams and idea makers to recruit additional staff into the mix.  As ideas progress through the funnel, top ideas are floated on the virtual market and this adds a competitive element to the platform through gaming/trading.  You can buy and sell shares in ideas.  And you could use your virtual currency to convert into prizes, time in lieu etc.  It’s a technique that encourages you to come back to the site.

Our pilot has yielded enough response to warrant wider roll-out.  Out of all the ideas during the pilot, three made it through all the required phases, getting enough buzz and backing to be ready for review at board level.

Further information

End of purdah and election 2010

It feels like I’ve had my online mouth clamped for the past month or so due to “purdah”, the rule that prevents civil servants from expressing opinions which might influence election results.  So, to continue…

April and May have been eventful in the intranet team.  Since the announcement of the election date, we have tried to plan for every eventuality, including a name change and a hung parliament.  Now that the new government is in place, we’ve updated details of new ministers and archived news stories from the previous administration. We’ve got new Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts.  And a brand new website (but still with no ability to share news stories.)

We have completed our annual intranet usability benchmarking exercise with IBF and also an intranet satisfaction survey using Gerry McGovern’s “Customer Centric Index”.  Should get results in next week.  Can’t wait.  The research will serve as a good benchmark against industry best practice (where I hope we’ve done well) and will give us valuable insight from our users and key stakeholders (where I fear we have a lot more work to do).  I’d like to use this research as a basis to draw up a plan for the next six months using Step Two’s 6×2 methodology.

Meanwhile, back at Headquarters, our IT security department has shut down access to Google Analytics.  An action that will impact on our ability to evaluate and gain insight from staff intranet activity and communications campaigns.  They claim that it’s possible for people outside the firewall to rewrite the intranet.  This is from a department that still installs Internet Explorer version 6 as the corporate browser and who employ third party companies who leave sensitive data on buses.

There are rumours that another government department has shut down access to Yammer, the internal micro-blogging tool.

Despite having a vision of how the intranet could slowly start to engage staff more, allowing them to interact with each other and influence the direction of intranet development, my hopes of ever introducing a collaborative/digital workplace are dwindling in this environment where you just can’t make any progress with IT behind the firewall.  The whole of the civil service is being asked to do “more for less” yet we are forbidden from using modern digital tools that help to increase productivity and staff morale.  Why is it that government is promoting social media and digital innovation but won’t let their own staff use it in the workplace?

Ok, rant over. On a positive note, June should kick off with a great start on the 2nd and 3rd with IBF 24 where I’m looking forward to seeing some great examples of progressive companies who are introducing social media into the workplace and turning over power to the people.