Friday, February 09, 2007

Love Machine

Does your nonprofit have smart and friendly systems in place to increase positive interactions between staff?

Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, and his company, Linden Labs, have an interesting system in place. They call it the Love Machine. Here's how Rosedale describes it in an Inc. article:
  • We have this thing we built called the Love Machine. The Love Machine allows anyone who works here as a Linden employee to send anyone else a brief note that says "Thank you for doing this for me." There is a little webpage where you can go to send an e-mail, and then you get a little e-mail that says "Love From Philip" in the subject and it's got text in it. Now, you think, what's the big deal about that? Well, all of that stuff goes into a database. Your review carries that. Everybody is sending love to each other. It creates a positive collaborative environment.
  • Most businesspeople communicate in a mostly negative way. If people are encouraged to be entrepreneurs and take risks, they can also become combative and competitive. You have to balance that. So we built the Love Machine for balance.
Rosedale jokes that Linden Labs will someday be more famous for the Love Machine than Second Life.

For those of you who wonder whether a positive work atmosphere is all that important you can check out the work of psychologist Barbara L. Fredrickson, University of Michigan, and mathemetician Marcial F. Losada, Universidade Cato´lica de Brası´lia, whose research shows a ratio of 2.9 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction is associated with flourishing work groups.

As Frederickson and Losado noted in their review of literature “bad is stronger than good” and you need 2.9 positive interactions for every negative interaction in a work group for the group thrive.