Marketing Change


This is your mind on overload!

This is your mind on overload!

Hand Drawn Chart Saturday

We live in a noisy world.  Between email, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the internet, we are simply awash in information. The economic theory, rational expectation, assumes that people fully and quickly process all freely available information. Unfortunately, humans only have a finite processing capacity. Enter the theory of rational inattention, which recognizes our limited ability to process information.  Rational inattention theory, like rational expectations, recognizes that information is freely available, but since it can’t be quickly absorbed people need to make choices about what they’ll pay attention to.  Attention becomes a resource, and as a scarce resource, it needs to be budgeted wisely[1].Budgeting translates to filtering.  Filtering is one reason that some process improvement messages get heard and some seem to go in one ear and out of the other.

As change agents, we have a better chance of being heard if we recognize that the potential impact of rational inattention. Our audience is not going to be moved to action if 1) they are not aware, and 2) don’t pay attention, both prerequisites to taking action. In his book The Attention Economy, Tom Davenport outlines a model that begins with awareness, which is then filtered by attention to generate specifics from which action can be taken. This simple model helps us understand that getting someone to take action has prerequisites.

Untitled

How do we break through the wall of noise? Yell louder? One popular approach is to wrap the message for change around a burning platform.  The burning platform is a metaphor for a problem that if not solved will cause significant pain or anguish. There is data that shows we respond to negative shocks faster than to positive shocks[2] This means that our audience’s natural risk aversion may induce them to process negative news faster than positive news. In other words, a solution that solves a current, real pain will be heard faster than a promise of future benefits. Instability is change’s ally while stability is changes natural enemy (if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it).

Rational inattention helps change agents understand why some messages are heard and some aren’t. Our audiences will make the most of available information by analyzing those bits that are relevant to their decisions and to disregard the rest. Our goal when packaging change is to increase the incentive to be aware of the need to change and then to pay attention to the message. On many occasions we will convince our audiences that the world is not only noisy, but unstable so they can hear our message.


[1] Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Volume 6 No. 3 March 2011, p 2

[2] “Some International Evidence on Output Inflation Tradeoffs,” Robert E. Lucas, Jr., American Economic Review , Vol. 63, No 3, 1973, pp 326-334

Bartle Test

Bartle Test

The Bartle Test is a useful mechanism for categorizing the behavior of players as you implement game mechanics.  It is built on theories about how personalities behave within games.  These classifications of players are useful when designing the implementation of game mechanisms. Each group will interact with the game mechanics differently, based on their personalities. The ability to develop a personality profiles provides a basis for planning. And when you can compare the anticipated behavior to actual behavior, models provide a basis for tuning the implementation.

The Bartle Test categorizes players into four groups.  They are:

Achievers
Key Attributes:  Enjoy difficult challenges, collect points or other indications of success, need feedback
Overview:  Achievers tend to concentrate on attaining observable measures of success and need continuous feedback on how they are performing.  Game mechanics such as leader boards are useful feedback mechanisms.

Explorers
Key Attributes: Not afraid to color outside the lines
Overview: Explorers are very interested in how game mechanics work and will actively seek out new or unexplained paths through the process.  Explorers make excellent exploratory testers and should be motivated with challenges.

Socializers
Key Attributes: Value relationships
Overview:  Socializers tend to concentrate more on interacting with other players than on game performance.  Game mechanics such as teams or group challenges will be effective in environments that have concentrations of socializers.

Killers
Key Attributes:  High competitive with other players, not good team players
Overview: Killers will go out of their way to provoke competition with players.  Generally these types of players are rare within IT because there is a heavy reliance of teams and teamwork. Killers can be used as a boogeyman to bring players together into an alliance to resist killers. In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience,  Carmine Gallo suggested that one of Steve Jobs strengths was that he introduced an enemy that everyone else could unite against.  The killer can be that person.

Before designing how game mechanics will be integrated into your application or process improvement implementation, analyze the types of players you are trying to influence.  Assume that an analysis of your target audience done for a previous implementation will have changed.  Every implementation will different to some extent.  For long-term implementations of game mechanics, I recommend reviewing your initial classification of player types compared to observed behavior on a monthly basis.  Use the techniques discussed in the Daily Process Thoughts on retrospectives to find improvement opportunities.  At the end of each month perform a retrospective focused on tuning the implementation team’s knowledge of the players and how those players are being engaged.

The power of tools like the Bartle Test is to help plan and tailor implementations by focusing on the audience – the player that the change is targeting. Understanding the players will help to design and implement an approach that encourages engagement. And in the longer term, improves the stickiness of the change.

Related Posts on Gamification 

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Software Process and Measurement Cast (www.spamcast.net_

Software Process and Measurement Cast (www.spamcast.net)

Gamificaiton increases process adoption rates by increasing engagement and generating community. However, the concept of gamification can feel theoretical without an example, even though many of us use game mechanics all the time, such as Foursquare, Stack Overflow or Ebay. Let’s use the plan I working on to gameify the Software Process and Measurement Cast community as a working example to consider how we would use game mechanics to drive engagement.

Software Process and Measurement Gamification

(Working Draft)

Goal:
Generate increased involvement by the SPaMCAST’s audience with the Cast.  Involvement includes posting comments, providing conference reports, submitting guest columns, re-occurring columns and sponsorships.

Community/Players:

  • Audience: Today the majority of the audience is non-participative, but there is a high number of multiple downloads per visit suggesting that the majority of the audience members are Explorers and perhaps Achievers (from Bartle’s Test).  These assumptions need to be tested.
  • Motivation: Feedback from similar podcasters indicates that giveaways for interaction can attract spikes in listenership.  Rewards will include review copies of books, copies of my book and badges.  Leaderboards will be used to track progress.
  • Culture: Phase 1:  IT culture tends to be a meritocracy that is shaded toward introspection, therefore some mechanism to track reputation would be valuable. Reputation in this case is an assessment of the quality of the responses that player. Early on, the leaderboard might be the only option until reputation tracking can be coded.  Phase 2: Execute an audience survey to generate an audience-culture profile.

Game Mechanics:

  • Levels                                   Base Level (rolling six months)

Initiate                                    4 Comments

Participant                          10 Comments

Thought Leader                 50 Comments

Contributor                           2 Guest posts (essays, book or conference review
must be approved by editor)

Columnist                              6 guest posts (essays, book or conference review –
must be approved by editor)

Levels currently assume that we do not have mechanism to track reputation.Rewards to the leader in each category will be made twice annually on a special podcast using review copies of authors books and sponsored swag.

  • Challenges: The challenges are presented at the boundaries between levels by presenting an extra step that the player must take in order to pass to the next level.
    • To pass from Initiate to Participant:  Provide interview question(s) for upcoming interview,
    • To pass from Participant to Thought Leader:  Participate in a recorded group discussion (Special Show).
    • To pass from Contributor to Columnist: Commitment to create a monthly column and nomination by three listeners (or quarterly poll)
  • Leaderboards: Leaderboards will be used to track all categories separately.  Leaderboard will be posted on a special page on the website.  Postings will be updated on a weekly basis and the top five people in each category will get a call out on each essay show.
  • Badges: Virtual merit badges will be provide for Initiates. Physical and Virtual merit badges will provided for all other levels.

Initial Measurement Goals:

  1. Comments:                                        50% increase in six month rolling average
  2. Content Contributions:                 25% increase in six month rolling average
  3. Listenership:                                      20% increase in average monthly download numbers
  4. Stickiness:                                           Under discussion

The gamification plan for the Software Process and Measurement Cast is a work in progress.  The intent of sharing the plan was to show that using game mechanics does not have to be overly complicated, but it does require planning.

We use gamification to promote engagement and to encourage players to continue using the process (i.e. stickiness).  To understand if it is worth the effort we are expending to plan, execute and maintain the game mechanics, we need to measure the results.  In the example above listenership and engagement (comments and contributions) are relevant measures, however measuring time on the site would not be relevant. One very simple measure of feedback is if no one is interested in the game. Then there is a mismatch between the players’ culture and the game they are being asked to play.

PS – Ideas, thoughts and comments are welcome.  The plan is actively being fleshed out by the SPaMCAST team.

Daily Process Thoughts:  Gamification Theme

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Gamification and the Bartle Test

A Nerd Merit Badge for for supporting the Command Line Podcast.

A Nerd Merit Badge for for supporting the Command Line Podcast.

Audience engagement and successful process improvement are strongly correlated.  Creating that engagement requires careful planning and benefits from tools such as gamification.  Gamification is a mechanism that leverages the competitive attributes of the target audience, or ”players,” to channel behavior using game mechanics. The goal is to gain initial adoption of process changes, make them sticky and then to guide the players into process improvement. Common game mechanisms include: badges, competitive challenges, levels, players and leader boards used in an integrated process to guide the players towards an overall goal.

  • Badges (also known as achievement badges) provide recognition and feedback.  An achievement badge is a symbol of achievement.  A Boy Scout merit badge is an example of an achievement badge. Physical badges are often one of the more visible mechanisms used in gamification.  Gabe Zichermann, the author of “Gamification by Design” (O’Reilly, 2011), says that badges work when:
    1. They balance aspiration with ability to attain (if you want one badly they should be harder to get);
    2. Look good (ascetics);
    3. Are scarce (not everyone has one), and
    4. Are integrated tightly into the gamification program (the use of badges can’t feel like an add-on).
  • Levels represent different magnitudes of accomplishment.  Typically increasing a level provides a player with greater challenge. In a process improvement project, each level should take the “player” to a higher level of skill or add more complexity to the process they are learning. For example, if we were implementing peer reviews supported by gamification, the first level might be “peer review participant” followed by “peer review leader”.
  • Challenges are set of tasks or accomplishments to ingrain behavior and provide feedback. Challenges create engagement, but need to be specific to the audience and to induce them to progress along the process life cycle. For example, progressing through peer review participant to peer review leader and finally to peer review master.  The challenges should help encourage the player to progress.
  • Leaderboards show players where they rank amongst their peers (those people participating in the game).  The leaderboard puts a spotlight on those at or near the top of the list, which generates competition among the players. Leaderboards can be categorized based on role or teams, depending on the goals of the process improvement and the gamificaiton.
  • Players are the target audience for the process or process change.  Players that discover new things, i.e. explorers, are like early adopters and should be identified and encouraged.  Bartle’s Test is a tool that is often referenced to classify the psychological aspects of players. The four general categories are: killers, who provoke and cause drama; achievers, who are competitive and enjoy challenges; explorers, who like to find new things, and socializers, who enjoy relationships among other players. The game mechanics selected have to match the types of players.

These common components are typically linked to together in gamified implementation.  They are also very common in social media applications, such as Foursquare. In Foursquare, players check-in at locations.  The player with the highest number of current check-ins at a location is the mayor (an example of a challenge).  Checking in at specific types of locations, such as coffee shops, is celebrated with achievement badges. Combined well they incentivize behavior that the developers of the process or application want, so that they can attain their business goals while satisfying the need for competition and recognition among the players.

There are many other game mechanics that are not used as often in process improvement implementation, including:

  • Player sheets (or personas),
  • Progress bars,
  • Activity feeds,
  • Avatars,
  • Real-time feedback,
  • Virtual currency,
  • Gifting, and
  • Trophy case.

The pieces of game mechanics need to be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle so that they coherently support the goal of the project and accentuate the player’s engagement with the process.  The game components should make it fun to learn and improve their skills all while working towards the big picture of goal of the program being implemented.

Daily Process Thoughts:  Gamification Theme

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Gamification and the Bartle Test

Game Mechanics!

Game Mechanics!

I recently came across some poor implementations of gamification.  In my day job at the David Consulting Group, we license a knowledge management tool that uses game mechanics as a training tool.  IFPUG uses a different knowledge management tool that uses challenges and badges. In both cases, no one pays attention to the game mechanics in the tool because they are not useful or engaging.  These are cases of poorly implemented game mechanics where someone paid a development team to create functionality that does not seem to add value and makes the product feel unplanned.

There are five general areas that impact whether gamification will help or hinder when implementing a process or an application. The five are:

  • Goals/objectives
  • Community
  • Motivation
  • Culture
  • Design

We will discuss the first four today, and design later in the week.

The first step to implementing gamification is to have an explicit set of goals and objectives for the game mechanics you are using.  For example, take a board game that you like (I like Monopoly, but my wife beats me every time), and find the rules. Usually you find the object of the game prominently printed so that the player knows objective before they start thinking about the game or the rules.  In Classic Monopoly: “the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property”.  In the Monopoly example, understanding the object of the game helps the player’s learn and absorb the rules and then create their own goals for playing.  In our overview of gamification in  The What and Why of Gamification, I used an example in which the process team implemented a set of challenge goals to support the implementation of peer reviews. The implementation of peer reviews was tied to a broader goal of improving quality and overall efficiency.  By understanding the broader goal, the development teams understood both how the process changes benefited the organization as well as how the challenges related.

Most of the game mechanics that are used when deploying IT applications or processes require either interaction (group challenges) or competition (leader boards).  Players that know each other or are connected as a community are more apt to work together to attain goals and to compete on a healthy basis. Therefore gamification will be more effective to improve adoption of the process or application.

If the users of the process or application do not have a reason to play, then they aren’t going to or, if they do, they will lose interest quickly.  People are motivated in the workplace for many reasons.  Rewards, team esprit de corps, and career advancement are just some.  Reward systems based on a publicly observed tracking mechanism hits the most buttons.  Rewards must be viewed as interesting and useful to players.  The example in The What and Why of Gamification used a trip to the company’s technology conference, company recognition for being selected and the inferred impact on an awardees career as a set of rewards for participation.  The use of leader boards showed how players were tracking toward completing challenges and attaining the reward created a competitive environment.  Sales people that compete to be the top sales person of the month are responding to game mechanics and a reward structure. We use gamification techniques to increase adoption and learning.  Without motivation to participate in the “game” the use of game mechanics is a waste and can derail implementations.

Daily Process Thoughts:  Gamification Theme

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Gamification and the Bartle Test

Everybody likes a game!

Everybody likes a game!

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

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Gamification and the Bartle Test

The wake of a speeding boat at sundown.

The wake of a speeding boat at sundown.

Motivational Sunday

In nautical terms, a wake is a visible track left by a boat, a plane or a person as they move through water. A wake churns up the water and affects anything that it comes into contact with. The track that the wake leaves, represents a transitory mark that something has occurred. A wake calls attention to both the passing and the action that caused the wake. That attention can generate conversation and interest. Are you leaving a mark on the world or is your goal to pass through leaving no wake?

The goal of taking any action as a change agent is to alter the environment in a useful way. Altering the environment will leave a mark or a wake. The larger the wake you leave the larger the amount of attention the change will generate. The speed of the change will affect the size of the wake. When considering the change management component of any change, we can impact the size and the shape of the wake we cause based on how we make the change. Regardless of size of the wake without creating a mark we fail to deliver change.

Why be involved in any activity if it’s not important enough to leave a mark even if the mark is as transitory of the wake of a canoe? Quoting Seth Godin, marketing guru, “if it’s not worth doing, don’t do it[1].” As you contemplate the new week, think about the mark you can make on the world around you. Commit to delivering changes that leave a mark regardless of the speed you travel.

Fire works on the Fourth of July reinforce collective memory.

Fireworks on the Fourth of July reinforce collective memory.

National Holidays reflect a form of collective memory. Collective memory is a shared pool of information held by two or more members of a group. That late night when the team sat around eating pizza and solving an intractable problem is a collective memory. The family vacation you took last year is a collective memory. Collective memory support the effectiveness of teams. Collective memories can bind team a together, leverage a broader team-memory and attack complex activities.

Unfortunately, I have spent more than a few nights in the office eating cold pizza while solving an intractable problem with my team. Picture several sweaty people clustered around someone’s screen reading code, discussing how it should work and how we might test the solution. In these situations there is always some Damocles Sword hanging above our head to add a bit of pressure. While I do not think any of us really ever wanted to spend that sort of evening together, the story and our perceptions of the memory defined who we were as a team.

As we would get together after the event and retell the story each person’s experience was different enough that each person could fill in other’s gaps, add enhancements or provide queues to help each remember more than they would have remembered. This is called cross-cueing. The collective memory exceeds the memory any of the individuals in the group. Interestingly, the telling, collective remembering and re-telling helps refine the story as the team’s culture and outlook changed.

Everyone on a team has different capabilities, skills and specialized bit of knowledge. Collective memory allows the team to distribute the information to different individuals and to know that it can be “recalled” when needed. This is called transactive memory. Agile techniques reference the concept of specializing generalists. The all team members have a central core of capabilities, skills and knowledge. Individuals have areas of specialized knowledge that collective memory allows to be leveraged when needed. Enter the specializing generalist.

Whether a nation, an organization or a team, all groups have a collective memory that binds them together and allows them to be something larger than a group of individuals. National holidays like the Fourth of July are both a reflection of a collective memory and a mechanism to reinforce and refine a collective memory.

3-31 2013 dependable painting

Pick up a copy of the Yellow Pages (paper . . . Yellow . . . Phone numbers . . .. Old school), and you will find all sorts of firms whose names that announce to the world that they advanced, fast, dependable or clean.  How many of the names really match how they deliver products or services?

You are your own brand.  Your name and the adjectives that are used to describe you are in essence your ad in the Yellow Pages (or LinkedIn for those in this decade).  Your brand is important to generate a first look, but if you want repeat business, you need to remember that how you deliver is how people see you in the long run.  Dependable can’t be just a name, rather it needs to be an attribute that describes how you deliver.

internet

All ideas start somewhere and usually you won’t find a historical marker commemorating the event.  What you might find are many people that will tell you how a concept was developed, what the intent of the concept was and even perhaps that they were there.

In many cases they may even have convinced themselves that the stories they have created are true. Not to be malicious but rather because we all want to be part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.  Claiming involvement and ownership can also be a mirror image of the “not invented here” syndrome.

All ideas were invented somewhere, probably not here but I think we can be a bit fuzzy on the where question if it helps an organization to consider a new idea.  Even Mary Poppins used a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

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