A Few Rules of Management for Playing the Gamification Game

Oct 17, 2013 Posted by

I’ll admit — I’ve got mixed feelings about the hype around gamification that’s currently sweeping through world of management and HR. On one hand, it isn’t all hype. It’s easy to see how many people would focus more on accomplishing important tasks at work if they were somehow made more engaging and game-like. I based this solely on the obsessive lengths people go in the pursuit of frequent flier miles.

On the other hand, I agree with the notion that gamification will only get people to do what they would already do on their own. In my view, gamification is simply about motivation. And the larger the organization, the harder it is to motivate people at scale.

Gamification is a novel, new way to scale motivation efforts in an attempt to boost performance of some kind. Problem is, it’s often difficult to show a connection between gamification and performance. Most evidence you will find is anecdotal. And despite the lack of evidence that gamification improves performance, gamification is not going away.

Here’s proof. Large organizations need to find a way to scale motivation and are willing to pay to do it. There are also plenty of books, articles, and blog posts on it. There are courses and conferences. Even job titles. NTT Data has a global head of gamification.

Two Approaches to Consider

If your organization is considering game-ifying some of its processes to increase performance, managers can  approach it in two ways. First, you could buy a SaaS gamification platform and integrate it with existing systems. Second, you could save your money, get back to basics, and design the programs you would normally design (such as on-boarding, sales campaigns, change management efforts, etc.) in your organization — only this time, use some gaming principles.

Which ever path you take, you should go into it with a specific idea of what you want to accomplish. So before you think about gamifying the entire company, consider specific outcomes first.

Defining Your Outcomes First

Review your business and come up with a list of goals and/or problems you are trying to solve. Ask yourself if a gamification strategy could contribute to improving performance in these areas.

When I consider implementing any program or intervention in learning or training, I like to find a specific problem to solve instead of pursuing a launch of a larger-scale initiative. It is easier to start small, convince stakeholders to offer support, and achieve specific results linked to the intervention. If you can narrowly define a specific outcome you want to achieve, your initiative will have a greater chance of being successful.

Whether gamification can help you improve motivation and performance in your organization depends on many things. I suggest learning more using the some of the resources.

Are you considering gamification in your organization? Why or why not?