Passion – Not Money
Why do Crowdsourcers participate?
Put simply: Passion. Passion about something: a band (Sellaband ), a result (Obama ), a product (Lego Mindstorms NXT ), a process (Netflixs). Passion is the ticket. While there is a reward in all these cases (some monetary, some not), the motivator is rarely financial.
The best work is produced by people who feel value and zeal about what they do – and that theory is as relevant for Crowdsourcing as for our daily life and work. Why do Wikipedians contribute? You got it.
I believe that when that enthusiasm is supported with reasonable rewards, the venture is more exciting and more practical. Financial compensation helps further influence someone who is passionate – but is faced with limited free time etc. – to participate in a project/activity.
Aaron Swartz’s blog references Alfie Kohn’s “Challenging Behaviorist Dogma: Myths About Money and Motivation” , a thought-provoking read. I do go on about how people should be fairly compensated (yes, I’m as dogmatic about that as a rapid Chihuahua). Of course, what they are being compensated for must have meaning for them. Kohn’s article concludes with a formula – and to “Pulp Fiction” this, I’ll work backwards from there:
“Thus, my formula for how to pay people distills the best theory, research, and practice with which I am familiar into three short sentences:
* Pay people well.
* Pay people fairly.
* Then do everything possible to take money off people’s minds.”
Love it – Thank you.
So here’s where we go back. Kohn argues that while money does matter in a general sense, the fallacy is the idea that money is a motivator. He discusses what we are motivated to do without a monetary carrot – activities that we are passionate, excited about “avocations”, and he makes the point about raising children – which is anything but profitable in a financial sense…
Seminars and articles with titles like “How to Motivate Your Employees” should be avoided at all costs: not only is the basic premise psychologically misconceived, but the prescriptions are likely to involve attempts to control people and therefore to make things worse in the long run.
“we might agree (by a looser definition) that someone could be motivated by money, but then immediately add that this would probably signal a major problem, a motivational orientation that isn’t associated with a high quality of work or quality of life.”
And now, we bring it all home:
Crowdsourcing differs from “traditional work” in more than one way, most notably: while a person may work somewhere crappy because they feel they have to, there is no such necessity to participate in Crowdsourcing.
And, as for quality, let’s try an example:
Barton is a filmmaker at heart. His spare time is limited. That said, there’s a site that asks people to come up with really cool ads. He has an idea for a really cool ad and he gets excited. He wants to put his energy into it, but there are other things he needs to do too. Is it worth the investment. Well, there’s a prize (monetary, exposure). “Well, I wanted to enter anyway ,” he thinks. “This is just the kick in the pants I need.”
Jon, as well, is a filmmaker at heart with limited free time. Same contest. But Jon doesn’t care too much about advertising. There’s a prize, so he figures he’ll enter.
Who do you think will produce the better ad?