Reward & Reputation – Part 2

30 04 2007

In our last post we explored the underlying motivational differences of many people today in volunteer work and the importance of classifying your stakeholder volunteers by motivation type in order to ensure the most appropriate reward and reputation system for your product or service co-creation process. This post will outline a plan for further defining an R&R system.


Note: If you have not reviewed the earlier postings on the “product co-creation process,” please locate the two postings via the search function to the right. This post series will assume you are already familiar with it.


Defining Volunteer Roles, Responsibilities & Benefits

A typical product or service co-creation development team will include the following volunteer participants:

Product idea leader – this individual could be the “idea champion” (who submitted the original product or service concept) works with staff to ensure the project team members complete their assignments according to an approved project plan

  • Possible recognition: product or service concept credit (e.g. could include an attribution of product idea with or without a share in product/service revenue, points toward satisfying or maintaining a professional credential), award from appropriate management (based on market success of product or service) with special recognition presented to the member’s supervisors

Project task participants – these individuals volunteer in areas where they have specific functional experience and expertise to deliver a component (e.g. design, content development, production, marketing/promotion)

  • Possible recognition: highlight noteworthy submissions each month/quarter/year via all forms of communication (web, print,etc), thank you notes for contribution, small gifts, credit toward completion of professional credential or other attribute

Subject matter experts – typically professionals from the sponsoring associations volunteer leadership who have specific expertise and experience to assist through advise or in review of material submitted at key decision “gates” along the product development process

  • Possible recognition: via existing association volunteer leadership incentives



These roles should have clear job descriptions and should be posted with R&R benefits highlighted at the registration point in product phase 2 development.

Creating System Measurements & Metrics to Gauge Contributions & Success

It is important to design a system that assesses both the quantity and quality of contributions of the participants that permits assessment of the initial idea, the work needed to turn it into a deliverable, the individual impact a person made in terms of knowledge, collaboration, or contributed expertise, leadership, and impact to product or service success.

Type of contribution measures might include:

  • Contribution of product or service concept (e.g. resource saving, best practice, etc.)
  • Sharing of knowledge in creation of a product or service (e.g. peer assessment of practical knowledge shared)
  • Impact of one’s contribution (e.g. timeliness, quality and type of contribution)
  • Helpfulness to others (e.g. provide support, advice, etc)
  • Degree to which they met or exceeded their project responsibilities (based on job roles)
  • Degree of success in which the product or service benefit was reused by consumers via post sale evaluation (e.g. time saved, improved quality of a deliverable or product, new solutions or innovations, etc)

Completing such measurements can be designed within the project group or the community via a “peer review” or 360 feedback mechanism.

Collaborative software tools are increasingly adding stronger and more adaptive recognition features into their products as market demands and collaboration success demonstrate the need for such capability. Making peer evaluation easy and fun to do is critical as this must occur at the point of need and not at an arbitrary point in the future when most surveys occur.

One need only recall your last visit to Amazon or Netflix to appreciate the impact that instantaneous “peer review” can have on the customer experience and the ability to collect useful information on important metrics for assessing product or contribution quality.

Note: In 2005, F. Maxwell Harper, Joseph A. Konstan, Xin Li, Yan Chen of the University of Minnesota, USA found in their work “User Motivations and Incentive Structures in an Online Recommender System” that users are motivated to rate by different factors. Some rate to improve their recommendations; others rate because it is fun. However, the results reveal that the implicit fun of rating and list-keeping is a powerful motivator for users to contribute to a system.

Julita Vassileva of the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, Computer Science Department published a research paper on “Adaptive Incentive Mechanism for Sustainable Online Community” in 2005. As part of their research they discovered that offering incentives through a virtual currency called “c-points” (a number of c-points are awarded to a user for rating papers, depending on her reputation of giving high-quality ratings). The c-points can be used to increase the initial visibility of the users’ postings in the search result list. The main incentive mechanism for participation was based on group status hierarchy (gold, silver, and bronze), which was awarded to users depending on the number of their contributions: number of shared links, number of ratings given to these links, number of comments given, and number of reads of the links shared by others.


Requirements Definition


Here are some suggestions on developing a set of requirements for creating a Reward and Reputation system:

  • Define the type of contributions and the underlying participant motivations
  • Collect registered volunteer data that captures their needs and interests
  • Map their motivations to construct groupings that reflect in the reward system
  • Create specific roles and responsibilities for team participants
  • Use the right technology that permits collaboration and manage the means of measuring “peer-reviewed” contributions in the proper context of where and when a participant desires to rate something
  • Provide easy to follow training with regular communication on the value of “peer review”
  • Follow through to ensure project participants are meeting their evaluation requirements

In the last post of this series, we shall examine the phenomenon of financial reward sharing as part of product co-creation.





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