How to get people to “show up”

The first thing I was asked to do at SXSW this year was to give up my seat at the Cooperative Gaming panel and join the other 400 or so people in organizing ourselves chronologically by our birthday. About 90% of the room participated.

The panel explored how collaborative games (think Farmville and Kickstarter) can be used as engines for sustainable positive change. Instead of a zero-sum game where one person wins and one person loses, collaboration allows participants to share aspirations/victory, develop ideas to improve products and even live better. Turns out, leaderboards turn people off. If you’re not close to the top… You give up. You stop showing up. However, if there are other people that need you to show up, you do. It’s like having a workout partner.

Engaging in a positive, social way on smaller challenges means you and everyone else is more likely to succeed. So if you want people to show up give them a collective reason to do so.

90% of the room participated in our birthday reorg because the month with highest success rate got shots of bourbon… A shared victory with a little healthy competition thrown in.

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