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A Tale Of 2 Enterprise Gamification Projects

June 27, 2013 • gal

Julie has recently been hired to a global sales team. She is eager to prove her worth. She keeps receiving countless e-mails letting everyone know her new co-workers are being awarded badges and accumulating points. At lunch she asks her manager what are those notifications clogging  her email inbox. Her boss tells her it’s some gaming platform the company makes everyone use.

During coffee, her cubicle mate tells her that three months ago the company decided to implement a gaming platform. It was announced with great fanfare by the big bosses, but the only thing that’s different is that they have a desktop app that gives them “meaningless points for meaningless actions”.

At this point Julie marks all gamification e-mails as spam.

Can gamification be done right?

Mark has been working as a sales rep for the last six months. He’s beginning to find his work repetitive. He is losing motivation fast, especially when he sees all the praise Josh, his co-worker, is receiving on a daily basis.

On Monday he gets to work with a heavy heart. Another day, another work week. Yet everyone is speculating about some sort of game. Someone says “Our team is definitely going to win. This is going to be so much fun”. Everyone seems genuinely excited.

His inbox has a message from his boss, with a link to a video. There is a new game-like initiative in sales. From now on, all workers will be awarded points and badges for different activities they do during the workday. This will happen through a system that will appear within the apps they already use for their work.

In the video, Mark’s boss enthusiastically introduces a game in which their team, the Cincinnati branch, is playing against the Indianapolis branch. His Ohio pride kicks in and he’s starting to feel pumped so he clicks the link under the video.

10 points!!! Just for logging in for the first time.! “We have this in the bag” he thinks.

As the week progresses, the chatter in the office winds down, and it seems everyone is filled with a renewed sense of purpose. He wonders how long this will last when he notices he has a new challenge waiting for him – he has been called to action: schedule ten client appointments. He opens and gets right to it. The moment he’s done, an e-mail arrives congratulating him for moving up five places in the rankings. He’s number 11 in his team, but when he looks closely at the rankings he realizes that if he really digs in, he can even pass Josh. “That would feel amazing”, he thinks.

Next Monday, Mark arrives just a few minutes late. He logs in and finds a message on Yammer informing everyone in the branch that he was just upped a level. He knows the next level is many points away, but he’s determined to get there before everyone else. During his coffee break, his boss comes up to tell him she’s looked at the analysis from the gaming platform and that she’s been really impressed with his work in the last week.

At the end of the day, he raises his head to the new big plasma screen. The Gamification Broadcast Channel announces he’s the person who’s made the most calls today – he beams back at his smiling picture.

After a month, when the game against Indianapolis ends, they end up winning by a small margin. Their boss takes them all for a celebratory dinner during which Mark’s branch decides to send Indianapolis a cake, writing “better luck next time” in icing on it. They’re going to need it.

In our last deployments with Fortune500 and smaller companies, we learned those lessons:

When designed correctly, Gamification has proven to be very successful in engaging people and motivating them to change behaviors, develop skills or solve problems. Here are a few guidelines that will surely increase the chances of your Gamification platform becoming the next office hit:

  1. Assign a process leader, a change manager that will set the tone of the app. This person should know the users and your organizational culture. He will be the “face of the process” and will accompany the users from their first steps in the platform. The change manager’s purpose is to assure that the platform be suited to your company’s workforce and aspirations.
  2. Users’ gaming experience ought to be customized to your specific business and cultural needs; otherwise you are bound to face an uphill battle with adoption. Expectations around UI, collaboration, sharing and rewards change dramatically based on geographies, age groups and industry, and your underlying platform needs to be able to adapt accordingly. This is why gamification should offer several game mechanics and game narratives.
  3. Users have to deal with many different applications on a day-to-day basis as it is. Your gaming platforms should be seamlessly integrated into those apps in order to avoid overload and create a disconnect between where work is done and the game.
  4. Once you have the platform up and running, with the appropriate theme and game set-up – invite the users using a short and fun welcome-mail and/or video. Don’t explain the game in detail, just enough to get their curiosity going. Make sure to have a link to the platform alongside the video.
  5. In order to not clutter everyone’s inbox and overwhelm users, announcements should be made using personalized mails and notifications. And even those should be used carefully and prudently.
  6. Avoid the temptation to attempt too much right at the beginning. Start small, celebrate some initial successes, and be mindful to address failures and learn from them before you move  towards larger goals.
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