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Enterprise Gamification is Leadership 101
Mario Herger’s book Enterprise Gamification is certainly an outstanding introduction to gamification. However, it is far more. While I am a novice at game development and gamification, I do consider myself to be knowledgeable and accomplished in the realm of leadership. As I read Enterprise Gamification, I could imagine an entire MBA Leadership and Organizational Behavior course based on this book. I was blown away with how richly Mario filled this book with studies and sources regarding individual and organizational behavior. In terms of truth in advertising, Mario was one of my advisers for my recent thesis in which I designed a serious, multiplayer, computer game to improve Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center training and exercises. I am now inspired to think more globally and imagine how to gamify FEMA and even the Department of Homeland Security to improve engagement, efficiency, and effectiveness. But, that is another story. I am not writing a book review here. Rather, I would like to share just a few nuggets out of Enterprise Gamification that leadership enthusiasts, like myself, might enjoy. The concept of applying these concepts through gamification quit simply makes the application of the principles more fun.
When I mentor young folks, I tell them that if I only had one piece of advice to give, it would be that you play the cards you are dealt. What this means is you are leading a team of individuals. They are all unique and motivated in different ways. Wait, did I just state the obvious? While we learned how we are unique as children from Sesame Street and Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, we seem to forget it in our leadership styles. In addition to intrinsic individuality, each person’s own motivation changes over time. An old, experienced, introvert may only need and want the task description and then runs off and takes care of it. A young, inexperienced person may need a little more hand holding or timely checks to make sure they are on track. Similarly, Herger refers to empathy-based design when he writes, “…understanding the motivations of players is a crucial part of making gamification successful.” In other words, one must consider what motivates a player to make a good game. This is analogous to a leader needing to understand the motivation of employees/teammates in order to be effective.
Does it help to come to more creative solutions faster when you promise people rewards? This is what German psychologist Karl Duncker tested in the first half of the 20th century with the candle problem. In this exercise he tasked test subjects to put a candle on the wall and lighten it up. The caveat was that the objects available included a box of tacks, a box of matches and the candle. How would they fix it to the wall? And would they come up with creative solutions faster if he promised them a large reward?
Watch this video to see what happened.
This thesis discusses the possible applications of game-design elements in the entrepreneurial development of the Generation Y. Firstly; the psychological principles are described and presented in the area of Game-Thinking. According to the undertaken interviews, potential solutions of how to implement Gamification into the enterprise E-Learning and the connection to employee motivation are shown. It turns out that the relatively new discipline has already found its way into several areas of the Employee Lifecycle and also can affect the digital learning positively.
Millennials are puzzling sales managers. The generation of sales reps born between the early 1980s and 2000s grew up with video games. With them becoming members of sales teams, sales managers struggle in understanding what motivates them and what keeps them engaged. An epic meaning or story may be more important than the carrot. That’s why it’s a good moment that sales managers take to look at the video game culture.
Millennials embody the video game culture. And two recent events demonstrated how impressively they do. One event took place in Germany, the other one in the US. At the largest video game conference – the gamescom 2015 in Cologne – over 345,000 attendees brought the Cologne exhibition center Kölnmesse, itself not easily impressed by large conferences, to a standstill. One way directions, staggered entrance times, attendees patiently waiting for up to four hours to play a new video game for 10 minutes, keeping their great attitude and radiating fun and excitement. At the same time the DOTA2, a professional video game championship with $18Mio in prize money, took place in Seattle over the course of six days. Every day 10,000 attendees in the arena watched the video gamers compete, while millions watched the live online-streams.
How does that relate to the world of sales reps and managers? Well, those two events show how ubiquitous video game culture has become, and that the Millennials are breathing and living it. It’s not a temporary thing that eventually will fade, this is a culture that will stay and penetrate companies. Millennials entering the workforce have played up to that point in their lives 10,000(!) hours of video games. That is a serious investment that they will not let go.