Let Their Lives Flourish – Essentials Of Enterprise Gamification

Our CEO and gamification guru Jukka Koskenkanto talked about the essentials of enterprise gamification last fall at the Nordic Digital Business Summit in Helsinki.

What Can Jesus Teach Us About Gamification?

Juhani VuotiChristmas is right around the corner and it will halt the entire western hemisphere at least for a while. Our thoughts are with our loved ones and we think about ways to contribute to our community. Religiously speaking, the central character of Christmas is of course Jesus. To honor the spirit of Christmas, I aim to examine in this blog post, what Jesus would say about gamification. That man knew how to tell compelling, thought-provoking stories. I’m not going to emphasize the religious aspects of the following story, as the story itself is brilliant and can be used to introduce a nontraditional viewpoint on gamification. The story goes like this:

“As Jesus was telling what the kingdom of heaven would be like, he said: Early one morning a man went out to hire some workers for his vineyard. After he had agreed to pay them the usual amount for a day’s work, he sent them off to his vineyard. About nine that morning, the man saw some other people standing in the market with nothing to do. He promised to pay them what was fair, if they would work in his vineyard. So they went. At noon and again about three in the afternoon he returned to the market. And each time he made the same agreement with others who were loafing around with nothing to do. Finally, about five in the afternoon the man went back and found some others standing there. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” “Because no one has hired us,” they answered. Then he told them to go work in his vineyard.

That evening the owner of the vineyard told the man in charge of the workers to call them in and give them their money. He also told the man to begin with the ones who were hired last. When the workers arrived, the ones who had been hired at five in the afternoon were given a full day’s pay. The workers who had been hired first thought they would be given more than the others. But when they were given the same, they began complaining to the owner of the vineyard. They said, “The ones who were hired last worked for only one hour. But you paid them the same that you did us. And we worked in the hot sun all day long!” The owner answered one of them, “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on. Take your money now and go! What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Why should you be jealous, if I want to be generous?”

(Contemporary American English Version / American Bible Society)

The workers, who had been sweating the whole day, were rightfully upset. The pay was of course unjust for those, who had done most of the work, and as a compensation system, it would most definitely not be encouraging. However, the focus of the story is not in justness but in mercy. Mercy is what leads us to gamification, because usually when implementing gamification, we try to be as fair as we can. This approach is justifiable, if we are building a competition of some sort to motivate people. Yet gamification isn’t always about competition. Gamification as such does not aim for giving just rewards, but it’s a practical way to motivate people to perform desired actions.

In the above story, everyone was working, which is an excellent accomplishment as such. If gamification is implemented well, it encourages many people to act. But excellent implementation of gamification encourages all to take action. Not everyone is motivated by competition and many can be intimidated if they need to compare their own performance with others. The most important thing in this case is to accept the individual as he is and encourage him to pursue goals that suit him best.

In the workplace, we usually give recognition for successful performance. The value of the reward is defined in relation to the profits the company gets from work performances; the reward is never more valuable than the profit, or otherwise the rewarding system would not make much sense. We’ve adopted this approach, because the resources for rewarding are limited and the amount of resources usually depends on the profits made possible by work performance.

However, gamification isn’t just about money, and profits, and sharing the wealth with the “players”. There are other resources that can be used to motivate besides cold, hard cash. The amount of these resources varies, but in some cases they are limitless. One of these resources is simply positive feedback. Gratitude never involves taking something away from someone else. A thank-you doesn’t cost anything for the giver, but it is still very valuable for the receiver and will boost her motivation. If we have an infinite resource of gratitude, what could stop us from being as merciful and encouraging as the man in the story?

Gamification is all about giving a man the thing he needs to perform the right actions. Not just the thing he deserves based on the results. A well gamified workplace is employee’s heaven.

The writer is in charge of Cloudriven’s consulting services in gamification, training and competency development and in addition to engineering, he has studied theology. Read more about Juhani’s thoughts on gamification from his Gamify blog.

Motivate People Through Data

Gartner’s research analyst Brian Burke tried to redefine gamification in April which yet again launched a vivid discussion among the gamification gurus about the definition of the concept. I’m not going to dwell on the details of the discussion, but the founder of Bunchball Rajat Paharia suggested a definition which I think is worth mentioning:

Gamification is about motivating people through data.

Although the definition isn’t perfect, Paharia introduces two important factors: motivation and data. Above all gamification is about how you can use game elements to affect people’s behavior. In other words, how you can motivate people to act according to the set goals. Data is needed because a) data is the only reliable source to find out what behaviors need to be changed to reach the goals and b) making data transparent is an effective way to motivate. Even the trending topics of biohacking and Quantified Self are based on the idea that you can develop your performance and increase motivation through data.

Model for Behavior Change

At Cloudriven, we’ve divided the process of gamification into five different phases as presented in the above image.

1) Collect behavior data. Without sufficient data it’s practically impossible to decide which behaviors need to be changed to reach the set goals. In the worst case scenario the planned actions can lead the whole organizations to the wrong direction if the decisions are based purely on the intuition of management.

The amount of data in organizations has multiplied during the last decade and many companies are desperately trying to figure out what to do with all the big data.  But especially in situations where the collection of data depends on people’s own effort, data quality isn’t necessarily that good. For example, sales reports are reliable only if sales people conscientiously log their activities to the CRM system. If the sales representative feels that the task is not meaningful or she doesn’t have a sufficient incentive to perform, the task won’t be done and the sales report will be inaccurate.

2) Analyze the data and make conclusions. Yetthe mere collection of data is not enough. The data needs to be analyzed so that proposals for action can be given. Often data may be derived from multiple sources and it lacks structure. In this kind of situation data needs to be modified and transformed into commensurate and understandable form before making the actual analysis.

The purpose of the analysis is to recognize the causes of your business challenges. It can for example examine why the sales performance is weak or why some units never reach their business goals. Behavior data arises from people’s actions and therefore it gives you an honest perception of the present state of your organization.

3) Design behaviors. Based on the analysis and conclusions a detailed management plan should be created. How are you planning to manage the behavior change in your organization? If the goal is, for example, to significantly increase sales activity during the next six months, management has to deconstruct the goal to weekly actions: 30 phone calls to prospects, 7 meetings, 50 e-mails, 2 deals. In addition you have to decide, how the sales actions are being monitored and what kind of encouragement and support the sales representatives need.

4) Choose the right tools. Change has to be supported with tools that encourage and lead the behaviors to the desired direction and at the same time make the monitoring easy and transparent. This is where the game elements come into play; game mechanics can be used to tap into people’s motivation factors. But you shouldn’t forget that gamification goes hand in hand with usability: it should always be clear for the user what she has to do next. In its most simplified form “gamification” can mean that the user is being guided to perform the right actions by using user interface elements and instant feedback.

5) Follow changes in behavior and collect data constantly. Change takes time and doesn’t happen in a day. Changes in behavior have to be followed constantly and adjustments should be made to the game elements and other parts of the system based on the data.

Information Worker Has a Lot to Learn But Never Enough Time

“Learning is a new form of labor.”
– Shoshana Zuboff

Information worker’s chaotic desktop fills up with problems which don’t have a simple solution. There’s just a huge amount of information: e-mails, meetings, tweets, opinions, text, images, videos, good news and bad news, strategies and definitions of policies. And we shouldn’t forget the Excel-tables. Using your best analysis skills and creativity you should be able to give birth to something new and innovative from this cornucopia of sources. That is, you should find a solution.

It’s impossible to separate learning from work in today’s world

It’s impossible to separate learning from work in today’s world. Studying isn’t anymore a strictly defined part of life, which precedes working life. Especially in information work, executing tasks successfully requires constant learning and adoption of new things, because the problems at hand seldom are similar in content or even by nature. For example, consultant’s every project assignment is different, economist has to keep track of the changes affecting economy and development manager has to know the latest technology and business trends.

“I’m in a hurry, I don’t have time for that.” Does it sound familiar? One of the reasons why we are not actively developing our own competencies even if we want to, is that we simply don’t have time for it. We spend our working hours and maybe even a bit of our spare time doing routine tasks which leave us no time for learning, although the manager has given us permission to use working hours for studying during the mandatory development discussion. “We’re really investing in our employees competencies. We’re expecting you to actively find ways to develop yourself, even during the working hours.” When your calendar is full of client and in-house meetings and your ToDo-list is longer than an old man’s beard, developing your own skills and competencies is not the first thing to spring to mind. How to find time for learning when you don’t have any time left?

In network society, knowledge is fragmented and the production of knowledge scattered. The efficient use of knowledge requires close collaboration with different experts and professionals. The amount of data is expected to tenfold by 2020 to a staggering 44 billion gigabytes. Analysis of this vast information mass can’t be done merely by one Analyst, not even if you’re a Senior Analyst. Knowledge doesn’t reside just in one person’s head, rather knowledge is being made in interaction with others. On the other hand, the competition on labour markets is fierce and you have to be proud of your own skills and competencies and try to stand out from the crowd. How to build productive collaboration but still stand out from others?

What about motivation? Anu wrote in our previous blog post that motivation plays a big role in learning. Learning results of a motivated learner are noticeably better than of learners’ who consider learning as just a necessity. Daniel Pink proves in his widely read (yet very little understood) book Drive: The Surprising Truth About Motivation, that money and rewards boost better performance only in simple, performance-based work, whereas using such external motivators in tasks that require problem solving skills and creativity may even deteriorate performance levels. Information worker’s motivation for both work and learning can be found somewhere else: namely in Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy.

Time management, collaboration, motivation. How can you use these three elements to enhance learning in your organization? Here are some tips:

  • Make self-learning as easy as possible, for example short videos work well as learning material
  • Guide the learner and ensure the learning process is ascending and goal-directed
  • Let the learner monitor his own learning progress, so that he remains motivated
  • Give the learner instant feedback
  • It’s more fun to learn together and it also increases learning motivation and results
  • Make learning possible wherever and whenever by offering learning materials for mobile phones and tablets

These remarks have lead to the development of our own gamified Habit for eLearning concept. What do you think? How can we make it easier to develop our own competencies in the workplace?

Only Used Information Systems Are Productive

In the previous blog post by Anu the meaning of motivation in learning was addressed and gamification was offered as a solution for motivation. In this article, the issue of motivating different types of learners is discussed. By different types of learners here we don’t mean the traditional classification of learning styles (auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) which Anu has already issued in her prior blog post. When game elements are used to motivate learners, one first needs to find out what kind of people will “play the game”. From Richard Bartle’s classic player types Andrzej Marczewski has derived four different user types that are an asset when trying to find out ways to increase motivation with gamification.

  • Achiever wants to compete and battle against other players and he is motivated by mastery
  • For Free Spirit it is important to discover new territories and places and create new things. He’s motivated by autonomy.
  • Socialiser wants to socialise rather than play the game itself. It is important for him to interact with other players and he’s motivated by relatedness.
  • Philanthropist wants to help and offer unselfishly his help and even points to other players. He is motivated by purpose.

In order to make the information system as useful as possible and into active use, one must take into consideration the different motivation factors of different user types. This has to be done both when taking the system into use and when the system is in production use.

This is how you maximize the benefits of your information system by engaging users

This is how you maximize the benefits of your information system by engaging users (see also Yu-Kai Chou’s 4 Phases of Player’s Journey)

Traditionally on-site training is held in order to get the personnel to use the purchased system and to make sure they use it right. With the traditional training the maximum benefits for the organization or personnel are not usually gained. When the system has been taken into use and trainings have taken place, the user should be lead to the path of constant self-learning by motivating her.  Little by little the user gains confidence, new skills and eventually knows how to apply the things she learned into different needs.

The user’s journey towards the complete mastery of the system goes through four steps (see picture above). First the user needs to know what is expected of her (Discovery). Is she using the system for doing her everyday tasks? How much time does the usage of the system take and what benefits are there of the use of the system from the point of view of the employee’s work? In the second phase the user has to study how to use the system in order for her to complete the tasks that are required of her (Onboarding). How to update the customer data? Where can the HR instructions be found? How to save a new deal into the system?

In the third phase the user is already engaged in using the system in a productive way as part of her own work (Productivity). Using the system fits in naturally into my work routines, it is easy and offers me benefits all the time! In the fourth and last phase the user is able to apply her know-how, help others and develop the system (Mastery). I understand how the advanced features of the system work and other employees ask help from me.

In the first two cases users can be motivated with extrinsic motivators like rewards and points, but in order to reach the productive level, the user has to find the system meaningful to herself. This can be attained by using intrinsic motivation factors, like offering meaningful challenges, a sense of control or the possibility to boost the user’s status.

For example SharePoint’s default features make it possible to bring simple game elements into the use of, for example, intranet (see also Jussi’s blog post). From usage reports it is easy to look who visits the site most and rewarding that motivates players of the achiever type. Encouraging people to discuss, update their own personal information, commenting as well as adding tags and rewarding those motivate the socialiser player. Philanthropists enjoy forums where end-users can ask questions and everyone are free to answer to other people’s questions. Solving shared problems increase team spirit among personnel. Community site with all its default features (points, badges, scoreboard etc.) is often a place where, in addition to philanthropist, also achiever feels like at home. For the free spirit it pays off to give her the opportunity to create new content. Also it might be a good idea to follow the visits in different sites from usage reports and reward those who explore sites carefully and visit places where the hastiest people don’t bother to visit. Perhaps it would be a good idea to “hide” a chance to win movie tickets into a site. Free spirit is sure to acknowledge that as motivating.

However, in addition to basic features one needs also more effective ways to keep the system usage rate high after the initial launch. With the help of different game elements the use of, for example, intranet can be merged into a motivating and meaningful part of user’s every-day work tasks. Of course the ultimate goal is that working with the system is meaningful, productive, instructive and even fun for all the users. Game elements only work, if they are built using different people’s motivational perspectives. That’s why you should find out what player type you represent with Marczewski’s test 🙂

Winter regards

Free spirit Anu and Achiever Jukka

P.s. Are you struggling with system implementations or user training? Our Habit gamification platform offers an easy tool to maximize the profit of your system investment.