I’ve taken to describing three ‘coins’ that can be used to recognise and reward certain behaviours within communities. I don’t literally means coins: i’m using them as a tool to describe the ownership and control of both the allocation, and value, of reward, and to encourage us to consider how varying either of these factors can drive engagement. It’s based in a consideration of who ‘owns’ the award, who has the permission to decide what it is, and who allocates it, who decides who the award is given to.
Under the ‘three coins’ model, we can consider three states, described in terms of ‘moderation’, and ‘validation’.
The ‘moderation’ of the award is about who owns and defines it. If the organisation defines the award (e.g. a ‘prize’ of a hundred dollars for the best innovative idea), then it’s formally moderated. If the community decides upon the award (e.g. the organisation says ‘there should be a reward’, but the community gets to decide what shape it takes), then it’s socially moderated. The organisation may want a prize for ‘the best innovative idea’, but the community may decide that the prize is not a hundred dollars, but rather a trip to the Innovation Centre, to meet people who work there, and have a chance to network.
The ‘validation’ of the award is how we decide who gets it: if the organisation says i’ve won, then it’s formally validated. If the community decides that i’ve won, then it’s socially validated. Of course, a mixed model could apply, where e.g. the community shortlists a group, and the Organisation makes the final selection, or vice versa. Then it would be both formally, and socially validated. Sorry for confusing things…
Under this model, the first state (the first coin!) is ‘formally moderated and formally validated‘: this is the typical model of recognition and reward used in organisations, from bonus structures to promotions. The second state is formally moderated, but socially validated, awarded by the community. This acts as recognition of Social Authority, a community awarding it’s own. The third state, where both moderation and validity are social, is a full empowerment of the community itself. The organisation may still fund the reward, or be instrumental in it’s delivery, but it has relinquished control.
But why bother? What possible advantage could it confer?
Benefits are probably twofold: firstly, a socially moderated and validated reward may be deemed more authentic, because it’s awarded and shaped by our peers, our trusted tribe. And secondly, it hints at freedom, and opportunity, which rated as the two top desires of community members in my Landscape of Trust research.
So when thinking about ‘Social Learning’, or ‘Social Leadership’, consider not just the things that sit under our control, but rather think specifically about the things that we can relinquish control of, both in moderation and validation.