Gamification is a technique that leverages a player’s innate competitive attributes to channel their behavior using game mechanics. The goal is to have individuals, teams, and organizations adopt process changes, then process improvement. Game mechanisms include badges, competitive challenges, levels, players and leader boards used in an integrated process to guide the players towards an overall goal. These concepts might sound foreign to you, but if you have ever participated in Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, World of Warcraft or even the venerable Dungeons and Dragons, you have participated in the use of game mechanics. Whether an app or a game, all of these examples deliver challenges to participants and then provide feedback to generate competition. Gamification motivates players to engage and adopt process changes using that competition. However, the addition of gaming mechanics to the development community can also improve collaboration if used appropriately.
Game mechanisms, such as challenges, badges and leader boards, use healthy competition and performance feedback. For example, an organization I worked with identified set of challenge goals for a new set of development processes. Two of the goals set for developers were that they 1) led at least 20 peer reviews as lead peer reviewers, and 2) that the first two developers that completed 50 and took a facilitation class could be designated master peer reviewers. The process improvement group posted a leader board on their SharePoint so that everyone could keep track as team members progressed against the challenges. The challenges and the feedback generated from the leaderboard created an atmosphere of collegial competition that generated engagement. The same organization holds an annual technical conference. Attendance at the conference is by invite only (however the entire organization’s IT group could attend virtually). As an incentive, the members of IT that had achieved the top goals in each category a month before the conference were guaranteed an invitation and a spot on a discussion panel on IT processes at the conference.
Using public leader boards can help your group identify leaders in the process knowledge community. Employees can be rewarded for participation and or their contributions to the organization’s process knowledge base. Gamificaiton not only increases process adoption rates by increasing engagement, it also helps to generate community. In the example above, one of the more interesting side effects was that loose teams formed to push members to the top of the list. A second side effect was that members of the overall development community were motivated to adopt the new processes early so that they would not be disadvantaged in the competition (if you start too late you will never be able to catch up). The bottom-line goal of gamification is to influence the organization to adopt desired behaviors.
Daily Process Thoughts on Gamification