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Let’s assume you’ve decided to use gamification – the use of game mechanics to encourage behaviors – such as checking in (foursquare/swarm), selling (CRM scenarios), completing coursework (eLearning). Let’s assume it is in an enterprise gamification context. Maybe you’re gamifying learning, call center activities, or sales.
Now let me ask you a question: is your gamification project going to be addictive? Or how about this question: should it be addictive? Are you hemming and hawing and refraining from an outright answer? I was when I was first asked this.
I’ll admit that I myself hesitated when I started to hear these types of questions from gamification novices. After all, isn’t addiction a bad word? Its dictionary definition is “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity”. THAT’S BAD. And if addiction is BAD (notwithstanding addictions to chocolate or coffee or extreme sports), then isn’t gamification kind of diabolical?
Well, it IS NOT. I was reading Erin Hoffman’s post, Life, Addictive Game Mechanics, And The Truth Hiding In Bejeweled. And then it hit me: game mechanics may compel us to act. But they are not addictive or evil, and the sometimes naive portrayals in the business press (“in the future we will go to work and think we are playing a video game, but in fact the big corporate will be playing with our mind”) are incorrect.
Employee engagement has been monitored by the Gallup Institute for several decades in dozens of countries by periodically asking hundreds of thousands of employees a couple of questions about their engagement levels. And the results are pretty shocking. Only 16% or employees in Switzerland are engaged. Unengaged employees cost the economy several billion Swiss Francs every year. And the outcomes matter for each of us. Dealing with a disengaged supermarket cashier, support center agent, bank clerk, or colleague make frustrate all of us.
Now think of players playing videogames. Maybe you play games yourself, or your children. Then you will know what real engagement means. Players can spend hours very focused on achieveing their goals. And this often includes many failures, but still players are trying to tackle again the obstacles.
Research shows when people are engaged they are more productive. That’s why gamification has caught on in the corporate world. The clever combination of fields such as game design, psychology, motivation theory, neurophysiology, and behaviorism has been shown to benefit stakeholders in surprisingly effective ways.
Leaderboards are one of the most popular game design elements that gamification designers have in their toolset. Ranking players by their achievements is something that we are all familiar with, as it has been used in most sports to showcase the winners and losers. But leaderboards are not just isolated. They build on other game design elements, such as points or medals to be functioning.
While leaderboards (and points) are extrinsic motivators that come from outside an individual, they need to be connected to intrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivators including epic meaning, learning, or relationships benefit from the quantitative aspect of leaderboards. Short-term extrinsic combined with the long-term effect of intrinsic motivators make a gamification design strong and engaging.
When choosing a leaderboard as a design element, a gamification practitioner needs to make sure that it plays its part for the long-term goal. Leaderboards alone tend to encourage competition, which may be counter to the goal of collaboration in an organization. After all, that’s why we create companies, because together we can accomplish more than as individuals. For short-term and occasional initiatives a leaderboard may be perfectly fine. It may give the necessary energy boost to an organization and de-emphasizing the competitive aspect can help improve metrics. Use it to drive sales, but only do so occasional. Excessive use may lead to unethical behaviors, as the ranking may dominate over the real benefits that a customer may get.
Design Thinking and Gamification have recently seen a lot of buzz. And rightly so. After business software behemoth SAP also India's IT-giant Infosys is embracing Design Thinking (read more here). But did you know that we at Enterprise Gamification apply Design Thinking for Gamification and modify the approach for much better engagement? Our Gamification Design Thinking is merging the best of both worlds to deliver better business results, more engaged employees and customers, and better products.
But let’s start from the beginning:
Design Thinking was developed by Palo Alto-based innovation and design consultancy IDEO ans applies a human-centers. Empathy-based approach to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success to create outstanding products and services. In a Design Thinking process the team tries first to understand the problem and goals, and then goes out to observe people interacting with the current product or service. The idea is to see the users in their natural habitat, understand what they try to achieve, observe the specific situation, and get a deeper understand of the struggles. By reflecting on what has been observed, and what the goals are, the designers then ideate and prototype and test in quick succession. This whole process is iterative and quick to approach the problem and solution step-by-step. In the focus are always the people and their goals.