Are you fun, easy, and popular?

Or more to the point, are your solutions? Fun, easy, and popular solutions deliver greater business value than other solutions. It's not a stretch to believe these sorts of solutions are better than their boring, difficult, and unpopular counterparts.

Fun, easy, and popular solutions are adopted faster, used more often, and last longer.

So what’s the difference? Usage.

Fun, easy, and popular solutions are adopted faster, used more often, and last longer. 

You can try to mandate fun, easy, and popular solutions. One approach is to force compliance through policies, spot check audits, and making examples out of laggards. That may work at the outset, but it crushes company culture and introduces an additional, valueless overhead. Policing and audits like this are a tax on the organization.

We believe there’s a better way to engage your team. We’ll talk about why the fun, easy, and popular description works and provide some of our favourite examples. In developing this school of thinking, we’ve adapted Bill Smith’s ideas from the field of social marketing.

Roughly speaking, fun is the attraction. It’s the shiny marketing tool that calls attention to your solution. Easy is the hook by which we get our users trying the solution the first time. Who wants an object–however shiny–that comes with a huge instruction manual? Finally, popular provides the stickiness—the “everyone’s doing it.”  

Fun

After several years of trying to drive timesheet compliance within Habanero, we needed a different approach. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we used fun, easy, and popular. The approach of mandating timesheets and auditing compliance didn’t work. It was expensive. It was valueless. It was also counter-productive from a company culture standpoint.

We built a new front-end solution, called SocialTime, to enhance our existing time entry system. The system is how we track hours against clients’ projects. Prior to this, and despite several timesheet compliance campaigns, timesheet usage was spotty and inconsistent.

For the fun component, we introduced the Naughty and Nice workflow. Each “naughty” (non-compliant) person must buy a “nice” (compliant) person a coffee. It wasn’t an onerous penalty, but it was enough to change behaviour in a fun way. People would rather be nice.

Another example of fun is Car2Go’s eco-mode. Car2Go is a car sharing service that enables people to find a Car2Go vehicle, unlock it, login, and then drive off. One concern for Car2Go was the way their cars were being used; they wanted them to be driven carefully, conservatively, and economically. They track how the car is being driven–its acceleration, deceleration, and cruising. The genius here is how they translated that data into actions by their customers. When in eco-mode, a small touchscreen in the car shows three Christmas trees, each representing acceleration, cruising, and deceleration. As you drive smoothly and sensibly, the Christmas trees accumulate nice green branches, white snow, and eventually some Christmas presents. If you’re reckless, the presents disappear, the snow melts, and the branches fall off, leaving you with one sad looking stump.

This is a great example of leveraging something fun–really a kind of gamification–to produce a very specific business outcome: fuel economy and increased longevity of their car fleet.

Fun isn’t necessarily impacting overall usage in this case; it’s impacting how it’s being used.

Easy

Easy is obvious. The solution has to be easy to use. Returning to Habanero’s timesheet system, SocialTime, a key requirement was that it had to be quick and easy to use. This is really about user experience and attention to detail. Easy isn’t just the solution, it’s how you access and interact with it. It’s everything to do with it.

For SocialTime, easy manifested in many ways: a simple web address, a friendly login page, plus refined and managed keystrokes to reduce the burden of the application itself. Another approach used was a type-ahead search to allow users to locate their time entry tasks as quickly as possible. Finally, the day-by-day view further simplified the application, and encouraged another business outcome of daily time entry. As a little nod to fun, we added a rotating cheeky message to the login screen that changes every time you land on the page.

SocialTime's login screen is fun and inviting.

While this solution isn’t supposed to do everything, its purpose is simple: easy time entry.

Popular

Popular provides stickiness. Popular is what remains when the novelty has worn off and users have been acclimated to the system. It keeps people coming back by establishing a new social norm. There are several approaches to popular–social connection, gamification, recognition, and even social acceptance.

Consider a social networking site like Facebook. Popularity is critical to its success. Facebook’s popularity comes from social connection and from a sense of recognition and reward as our community rewards us with “likes” and positive feedback.

For SocialTime, popular is achieved through a unique functionone that gives the solution its name. When entering time against a task, it’s possible to enter time on behalf of your colleagues. After a meeting, an attendee can simply enter their time and tag everyone else. The system will then populate their timesheets with that same entry. Nothing like having your colleagues enter your timesheet!

With SocialTime, employees can enter time on behalf of their colleagues.

SocialTime drives popular with a clear notification that a task has been added through SocialTime, along with an email notification to further market and sustain the entire solution.

So, are you fun, easy, and popular?

Watch this space! In future posts we’ll describe how to build solutions that are fun, easy, and popular. 

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