First of all: if this is not the right place for this question, please move it to the appropriated one. This one was the closest I found to the subject.


Some context: Junior enterprises are completely voluntary work. I'm a member of a junior enterprise of a Computer Science course at our federal university. We are going through some bad time in terms of external products, negotiations and growing in general.


Thing is: the members of the enterprise are kind of settled down, accommodated to the situation, without motivation to learn, to develop systems of their own, to bring value to themselves and the corporation.

We know that the fact that not having progress at negotiations is a big turn down to any enterprise, and it seems that is too hard to create an internal project that would motivate by deadlines, like an external project would do with a real paying client.

Forcing the members to deliver value by punishment rarely is a solution, and in our case specifically, doesn't seem to be a good idea since, from the beginning, we are voluntaries. We are starting to apply a - kind off - simple benefits policy, but personally I think it will not, by far, be enough...

I know it's a situation with a lot of variables envolved, lot of details and background history, and should take a longer text to give it all. I've tried to make as simple as possible.


After all, what we really want to ask, and receive some advices maybe, is:

How do we treat an internal crisis of a junior enterprise, composed of voluntaries, not experienced members, that won't bring value for the enterprise of for themselves.

  • Non-profit doesnt mean you cant pay people
    – Ewan
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 16:21
  • @Ewan in the context of junior enterprise, we can't... It's not the purpose of this kind of enterprise. Yes we can pay courses, events and things like that though, but not money directly.
    – Daniel Luz
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 22:24
  • Can the events be at exciting foreign locations?
    – Ewan
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 6:57
  • @Ewan budget issues... :/
    – Daniel Luz
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:41
  • Well you can always lie to them
    – Ewan
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


Play with their reputation.

Create a dashboard/scoreboard and place the photos and names of each team member. Put some metrics there like tasks assigned, completed on time, late tasks and a effectiveness ratio. Define this in your charter as a performance management system.

Print this dashboard in a A2 paper and stick to the wall. You can update de metrics using post-it notes. Use your creativity!

Also, you can establish a ranking/badge system, like the guys on MacDonalds. When they achieve a specific goal, they get publicly recognised and get a increase in their rank.

People will be more careful on how they are seen by others and start to perform better. This doesn't cost anything! Just a little bit of management time. You can even define that people that score poorly on a given week/month need to bring muffins (at their own expense) to the office (that's positive punishment).

Good people will like the exposure, the bad people will need to make a call, on looking bad on the scoreboard or simply leave.

Human being is competitive by nature, use the competition as motivation. Money or punishment doesn't motivate people, competition does.

Try it and post the results back to the forum. I'm curious to see how it will go ;)



  • I REALLY liked that "positive punishment" thing, and I guess it never came to mind of our directors actually. I will bring this on. And the exposure part also sounds like it can work, at least it should. It a long run benefit, I will try to bring it in to our situation, and when we get changes from that I give you the results =)
    – Daniel Luz
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:52
  • Cool... Good luck! Don't forget to mark the question as answered ;)
    – TTKDroid
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:54
  • Have you seen this working in the wild? If I tried to do something like this in a corporate world I fear it would end in all sorts of trouble (claims of being singled out for public "humiliation", claims of unfair scoring due to circumstances beyond the control of individuals, public pushback on paying for muffins etc., the full range of office-politics effects!)...
    – Marv Mills
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 9:42
  • @MarvMills I think it's a concern you should have. As I see, it will mostly depend on the way you apply this. The essential here is that the workers see this as a "game", I would say. The point would be motivate by recognition at the game/competition. This could mitigate the "humiliation" effect, agree? However, this gamification process should not stand by itself alone, im my point of view. There should be others non-gamification systems backing this one up. What do you think?
    – Daniel Luz
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 16:43
  • 1
    @Marv Every project that involves a reasonable amount of people is worth having a Team Charter. In one occasion it was an EAI project for a financial services client with 15+ onshore developers. Project schedule was detailed and resource loaded, so everyone was clear on expectations for task completion. We had weekly dev team meetings to update the schedule and also our effectiveness dashboard. Could observe some interesting team behaviours like other team members helping out others to not be on the "criminal" spot. Healthy game, kept the performance high and increased the team bonding.
    – TTKDroid
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 21:34

Motivation Requires Perceived Value

What you're really asking is "How do I motivate people without meaningful rewards or punishments?" If you don't have people who are intrinsically motivated by the work or the success of the project, and you have no real leverage with them, then you can't succeed in creating motivation where it doesn't already exist.

People work for rewards (intrinsic or extrinsic), or to avoid what they perceive as negative consequences. Either form a team with people who are intrinsically motivated by the work at hand, or by the perceived reward/punishment of the work's effect on their grades, or admit that you have the wrong team and terminate the project early through whatever channels are available to you as part of this assignment.

From a project management standpoint, those are your options. Anything else is likely to be based on something other than the pragmatic practice of project management methodologies.

  • I understand what you said... However, by calling it a university project, you simplified too much the situation. We are talking about an enterprise really. I know the ideas applies - almost - the same, but the part of "terminate" or "replace the wrong team" aren't simple as that in this case, correct? Your first paragraph is enlightening actually, it can add some fuel to more thinking. Thanks!
    – Daniel Luz
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:45

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