5 Principles for creating energizing Gamification programs!

5 Principles for ensuring employee participation in Gamification Programs!

S2XQGV4Z9QQK While Gamification has caught worldwide attention only recently, I would like to share enterprise wide programs we had successfully implemented in the company in which I headed the KM function. We implemented one major successful program every year since 2004. In hindsight, I can share some of the principles I learned on how to design and execute such Gamification programs.

(Some facts to keep in mind before you read the next section: the company had 185 offices controlled by 18 branches; there were 5000 employees in 2004; the KM team was just 3)

The Principles:
Game 1: The Olympics– In 2004, inspired by the Athens Olympics, we ran a 15 day knowledge games with 35 events- co-inciding with the actual games dates! The 18 Branches were designated as countries (UK, USA, Jamaica, Australia, India etc) and had to compete against each other for the ‘pride of their country and the glory of sport’; The top 3 winners in each of the 35 events were given ‘token gold, silver and bronze medals’ just like in the actual Olympics. Each event was an actual internal company challenge that participants addressed. So, the Unsold Inventory event was dubbed as ‘weightlifting’ and participants had 15 days to come up with a plan and actually sell the inventory. Teams with the highest sales compared to the initial inventory were winners; More importantly the company learned methods from the teams to actually reduce the unsold inventory. This way in 35 different areas the company gained knowledge sourced from employees across the organization. Today this is called ‘Crowdsourcing’. 2800 employees participated and felt elated at having contributed to organization building in a tangible way.

Principle No 1: ‘The participants need to feel that they are contributing in a tangible manner to organization building’.

Principle No 2: ‘Resonance technique’- Participation is higher when all the elements of the actual atmosphere are replicated’;
Consider this- since the knowledge games coincided with the actual Olympics; and the games were conducted to make them experience (Country flags, Medals, Games Opening ceremony with oath taking, Games mascot et al) what it is like actually taking part, the engagement was electrifying!

Principle No 3: ‘Boundary Conditions: Give direction without imposing’. While we decided the rules of engagement of each event (there must be cross functional participation for example) we allowed participants to pick their own team members. This boosted the participation, while allowing us to see the real ‘Social networks’ at play in each branch.

Game 2: Expedition to the Roof of the World: While we were basking in the afterglow of the successfully conducted 15 day Olympics Games event, the KM team was challenged by Rory Chase, MD- The Know Network and Teleos, UK, (they do the MAKE Award assessment) to come up with a 6 month Game that Sustained the interest of the participants to show that the earlier event was not a one-off happening. Thus was born the Expedition to scale the World’s Highest Mountain.

The event involved ‘Capability building’. Every function –Sales, Service, CRM, Manufacturing etc had 6 challenges coinciding with the 6 Camps required to scale Mount Everest. Employees passed through the 6 stages; only those who were star performers could move ahead. Starting with Base Camp (ensuring basic training was re-iterated all employees were re-certified), there were a series of challenges increasing in level of difficulty; Employees were competing only against their own functional colleagues (Sales vs. Sales; CRM vs. CRM etc). At the end of the 6 challenges, each lasting 6 months, a final winner emerged from each function. And they were sent on a flight around the ‘world’s highest peak’ –Mount Everest!

For the organization, this was an event where the entire organization took a step forward. While not everyone can finish on the podium, every employee gained in competence. So it overcame any potential downside a competition has- that there will be bruised ego’s among the ‘losers’. Here all were winners in a sustainable and tangible way.

Principle No 4: ‘There should be an element of Self Development to sustain longer duration events’

Principle No 5: While everyone loves competing, making sure everyone comes out a winner in some way or other without bruising ego’s.

We did other Gamification (we never used that word- just realized that this is what we were doing) programs – one per year with similar successes. Connect with me if you feel you want an indepth presentation or help in designing similar successful programs in your organization. I am contactable at rudolf@inknowin.com.