Gamification and needing ‘stinking badges’

Gamification and needing ‘stinking badges’

“Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!” – “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

This infamous line from John Huston’s 1948 classic reflects much of the skepticism surrounding Gamification and its uses in promoting actual value to the business function, if not Enterprise Transformation.

It was the topic of our most recent show, “Can Gamification improve Enterprise Transformation?” And what became quickly obvious was that the idea of game mechanics is a good one, but the word “Gamification” is rather silly.

People imagine Gamification in terms of points, smiley faces, becoming a “Mayor” on Foursquare and, incidentally, badges.  They don’t get the point of working towards these virtual achievements, and no one wants to be treated like a child at the office because they’ve made an arbitrary number of phone calls.

The point however, is to provide workers with a reason to be motivated and feel their participation is making a difference. “I’ve contributed to something bigger and more meaningful than myself, and I feel good about my effort.” It’s a natural, human intuition.

But the problem is that Enterprise Transformation itself is undergoing a radical change. “Much of these new technologies focus on individuals and behavior as opposed to a central, top-down, my way or the highway IT technologies of the past,” said our show guest Mark McDonald, a VP at Gartner. He explained that the whole process becomes more human as it enables behavior to become addressable. “The human component has never been more important and more addressable than it has been lately.”

Mike Hugos, another guest and a Speaker at the Center for Systems Innovation, added that the reason we’re moving from a centralized command chain to a newer, network structure is a simple issue of agility. He claims that although there’s nothing wrong with the classic model, it just doesn’t move quickly enough in a high-change, unpredictable world.

“Top down, pyramid shaped hierarchies move so slowly, and in high change, unpredictable worlds, network organizations that figure out how to coordinate their actions consistently outperform the hierarchies,” Hugos said. “Games have an amazing ability to provide coordination and control to semi-autonomous players.

The basketball players on a court are not waiting around to be told what to do. If we can figure out how to apply that to business operations, there’s going to be an explosion of creativity and productivity by those businesses that figure this out.”

This then is where the fundamentals of Gamification come back into play. Gamification is all about recognizing your workforce’s contributions so that others can see those achievements and work together for improvement. A transparent and objective workflow where people can see tangible evidence is key to producing collaboration.

Hugos says in terms of Gamification, this kind of transparency is being achieved not through actual game mechanics as it was originally envisioned or as it is used for consumers on social media sites but through “game-like” operations. Create a system that uses goals, rules, a feedback system and a good reason to be involved, and you can not only get everyone on board, but also working toward a common goal along the proper benchmarks you’ve defined.

Badges then aren’t “stinking”; they’re just a form of feedback. We don’t necessarily need the tangible object of a “badge,” but thinking like a gamer who will spend hundreds of hours on “World of Warcraft” can let a person who is interested and engaged know they are doing a good job and inspire them to keep playing the game.

Hear more from Hugos and McDonald in our show “Can Gamification improve Enterprise Transformation?”


CIO Talk Network

CIO Talk Network, Editor, CIO Talk Network

CIO Talk Network is a trusted resource for Business and IT Leaders offering targeted, real-life, in-depth, unbiased, and thought-provoking content and conversations on topics critical to their success. CTN features thought leadership direct... More   View all posts
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