"Gamify" your horrible job
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Deloitte is out with a report called “The Engagement Economy: How Gamification is reshaping business”, seemingly the millionth time a newish buzzword has been credited with doing so. The report posits that using frequent, borderline meaningless units of measurement – the kind seen in games – can help you get your people to do things they hate.
The idea of gamification isn’t new, the report notes; frequent flier miles and coffee loyalty cards have been around for decades. But if the research the report cites is right, your workplace is going to get increasingly game-like:
It’s a trend that analysts claim will be in 25 percent of redesigned business processes by 2015, will grow to more than a $2.8 billion business by 2016, and will have 70 percent of Global 2000 businesses managing at least one “gamified” application or system by 2014.
From a behavioral perspective, gamification has a simple appeal, and proponents point to some impressive results. Want to get people to take their pills? Gamify medicine! Want to get people talking about your products? Give them badges (even if they have only five Twitter followers)! Want your call center employees to be more productive? Reward them with virtual lottery tickets! Want to get your execs to do sensible things, like not all taking different cars to work? Do what SAP did:
Business software company SAP AG employs a variety of games, including one modeled after a golf game that assigns sales leads and environmental challenges that award points for tasks like carpooling, says Mario Herger, senior innovation strategist, at SAP in Palo Alto, Calif.
SAP even turned its gamification efforts into a game, holding a series of “Gamification Cups” to generate ideas for turning business processes into games. One recent winner turned the traditionally boring process of invoicing into a competition…
"The reason why gamification is so hot is that most people’s jobs are really freaking boring," says Gabe Zichermann, organizer of the "Gamification Summit" conference.
Gamification may have real benefits, but there are a few things to remember. First, companies like Deloitte are selling “gamification” as a “business process management” product to their clients. Second, the idea that success should be measured, that people should have clear goals and earn rewards is not exclusive to games – it’s at the heart of modern management theory at least since Peter Drucker.
And if you’re envisioning a future where we’re all salivating over virtual badges at work, remember nothing motivates like good old human persuasion. Even Foursqure is moving away from badges to a design that favors “engagement”.
Or look at Atul Gawande’s latest piece, which investigates what the healthcare industry can learn from the efficiency-obsessed restaurant chain the Cheesecake Factory. Each location measures everything and uses game-like mechanics in its kitchens, letting its chefs play beat-the-clock:
Computer monitors positioned head-high every few feet flashed the orders for a given station. Luz showed me the touch-screen tabs for the recipe for each order and a photo showing the proper presentation. The recipe has the ingredients on the left part of the screen and the steps on the right. A timer counts down to a target time for completion. The background turns from green to yellow as the order nears the target time and to red when it has exceeded it.
But a Cheesecake Factory kitchen manager still inspects every moderately priced pile of mashed potatoes or plate of Linguine Alfredo and shouts out things like “Is this three-quarters of an ounce of Parm-Romano?” or “The pattern of this pesto glaze is just right.” – Ryan McCarthy
And, with that endorsement of real-life human interaction, on to today’s links: