20 November 2010

The IMD Contest – Collaboration at Work

    Yesterday a good friend of mine asked me to help her get votes in a contest launched by IMD, so after doing that I arrived to join the contest too, and not only for the prizes totalizing a number of 9 iPads to which, for the first two places, adds also a place within IMD OWP Program, respectively 3 World Competitiveness Packages, whatever they mean. What is interesting in this contest is that in a total of three steps, excepting the first step comprising a set of 20 general questions related to politics and business, and the third step, in which people have to match a set of image pairs representing pioneers in a field and their discovery, the second step involves a collaborative task. Namely, people have to compose a statement of maximum of 300 characters with the subject “Imagine you could be someone else for one week.  Who would you be and why”.  The collaboration resides in mobilizing your friends and acquaintances to vote you, they could vote you once per day, the vote being anonym so no need for them to login or join the contest, unless they really want to.

    Even more interesting is the fact that not only the individuals are competing but also the groups/communities they are belonging to are competing against each other, and could happen that two or more members of a group compete against each other, stirring a conflict of interests and eventually some divisions with the group, but that’s less important for this post. To use a mathematical syntagm I learned during the course of Linear Programming done in university, I was wondering what’s the optimum solution in this case. Unfortunately there are a few years gone since University and the few classes on Game Theory and Linear Programming done in school are somewhere in a dick fog. So, I tried to approach the problem logically: what’s the best choice for a given group of groups to win the 9 prices?!

    Intuitively it seems that the best win-win situation is when all the winners are belonging to the same group, and let’s say that the group contains only 9 members. Each day each member will receive 9-1=8 votes (a person can’t vote for himself), which for the next 75 days of contest cumulates to 600 votes, which I bet will be more than some of the winners of the prices will win in the end currently. Why 9 members and not more? Because each member added to a group, means that one member of the group will not win, and as I suppose that all the people want to win, the conflict of interests could lead people to sabotage the voting. On the other side several members could sacrifice themselves for the sake of their friends and let’s say they will vote daily without taking part in the contest, thus resulting (n-1) votes for each of the 9 members, each day.  It’s quite a simple formula:

Total number of votes = number of days * (number of members-1)
    The numbers are ideal ignoring the situations in which one of the members won’t vote and don’t include the additional votes added by other people, external to the group, who like the quote.

    A special case of such type of group in which the number of members is greater than the number of winners could be formed for example by the families of the people winning the contest, thus if each family would comprise two members, let’s say husband and wife, the number of votes would be then multiplied again by 9 (just multiply the above numbers by 9). This is the perfect scenario because once a family wins the contest, both husbands will take eventually advantage of the won iPad. There are more variations on this subject, for example when also the members of the family of the competitor participate, in such case the winning group would be ideal when the family of its members is as bigger as it gets.

   I wonder how many of competitors use any of the above approaches. I have several reasons to believe that this won’t happen, but who knows?! Anyway, you are free to join the contest and even vote my quote (here), if you like it. Any vote counts and it’s more than appreciated!

PS: The funny thing about voting contests on Internet is that the participants could easily break the rules voting more times per day by using dynamic IP addresses combined with other techniques. On the other side, the trickery could be found if the organizers are having the adequate mechanisms in place. If I remember correctly, there were such cases in the past when surveys or contests were in this way tricked, in several cases the trickery was discovered. Be careful, after the deed, and retribution!

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