Gamification works but let’s be reasonable, it’s not “perfect”!

Over the course of the last year, the use of gamification to build customer bases and empower employees has really started to skyrocket.  It’s almost as if businesses are simultaneously waking up to the reality that people tend to buy more or do better work when they are having fun or reaching for some type of achievement.  However, gamification is not a complete solution in and of itself, individuals still have to find the motivation within themselves to actively take part in a program and strive for success.

A good illustration of the overall effectiveness of gamification might be equated to something as simple as a bicycle.  For instance, a bicycle isn’t like a motorcycle, as it requires the rider to actually put forth some effort in order to propel it and themselves forward.  However, if a person does the work, they’ll not only reap the benefits associated with such a low-cost form of travel, there will also be consequent health benefits as well.  Gamification is very similar to this in that, as more people jump on board, the business grows in terms of capabilities, efficiency and long-term “health”.  

It’s completely crazy to assume that any type of initiative (like gamification) will bring about the sweeping changes and increased efficiency that one desires if you’re dealing with somewhat hopeless or highly cynical employees.   However, studies will clearly demonstrate that among those who give it a chance, gamification can greatly enhance most aspects related to competence, effectiveness and inter-office (working) relationships.   In other words, if gamification isn’t having any type of positive impact on your office environment, it might still be doing its job by helping to identify those who might be impeding progress.  

Often times, it’s not the idea of gamification that leads to failure though; more often it is poor design and/or implementation.  Naturally, the best way to avoid this type of scenario is to seek out sources which have proven themselves in the gamification community through experience (and hopefully, many successes).  For example, organizations like badgeville.com not only know what they’re doing when it comes to all forms of gamification (inside or outside of a company) they also have a long and illustrious track record of businesses supporting them (Microsoft, VMware and Oracle, just to name a few).

The reason why gamification “works” could be intimately tied to how well it is able to meld the concepts of interactive design with the actual data being handled by employees on a daily basis.  In other words, “good” gamification design is all about integrating what individuals would be doing under normal circumstances with fun, hierarchical elements which foster a sense of achievement and perhaps propels forward a sense of friendly competition.  On the other hand, if your gamification program is simply adding additional work and concerns to the list of activities that employees are already required to complete, it will have exactly the opposite effect.  Needless to say, you don’t want your program to become a burden, you want it to help build upon the abilities of your employees.

Likewise, a truly great gamification program needs to be able to help workers become more organized through participation.  When you really break the corporate model down and analyze it, you’ll quickly discover that inefficiency and lack of uniform organization are major contributing factors to profit-loss, mistakes and miscommunications.  In other words, the more highly organized a business is, the faster it can operate.

More often than not, it is a company’s IT department that gets called upon to not only develop a gamification program, but also to establish and run it (from a technological perspective).   Well, needless to say, if you find yourself in this type of situation and you’re an IT manager, perhaps the most logical course of action is to mandate some form of gamification certification for all IT professionals working under you.   Moreover, If you are an individual IT careerist who has their eyes on prospective job markets (as well as the future), pursuing advanced knowledge of gamification and its systems will only ultimately make you a more employable job candidate.  

In summation, there are two main concerns when it comes to running a successful gamification platform:

  1. Interactive design that is able to incorporate conventional duties and data (and doesn’t deliberately create additional non-value-added work for employees).
  2. Open-minded and motivated employees (even slightly) who approach their roles in a serious manner.

Keep these two concepts in mind as your institution initiates its own gamification program.   It’s vitally important that your approach to gamification isn’t simply something that’s “tacked on”, but rather that it’s hard-wired into the very fabric of how work is carried out on a general level.

Complete gamification certification is only a click away…

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