This is a topic I’m pretty passionate about – I presented on this with Steve Kaukonen at APQC. I highly recommend you listen to the recording if they make it available – I think the slides already are.
Gamification works – both in the short term and long term – *if designed properly*. Why does it work? Science. Science is the secret sauce of gamification. Let’s put the word “gamification” aside and talk about what’s behind the curtain – motivation design, user engagement, behavioral economics, habit formation, neuroscience, etc. Gamification works because of the way our brains are wired. The exciting thing is that the book is still being written, and we live in a golden age of behavioral research where we’re learning new things about how our brains are working all the time. Game designers, in particular, have been extremely good at figuring out how to make things fun, addictive and engaging – and gamification is about harnessing that to engage people and solve problems.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but there seems to be a misconception that gamification is ultimately about incentives and rewards, and that it’s only effective it if’s tied to pay and promotion. Gamification is so much more complex than that. There are many other forms of extrinsic motivation besides pay and promotion that are often more meaningful. As already mentioned, there is also intrinsic motivation as well – we are more than rats in a maze. This is similar to the misconception that gamification has to include a competition – cooperation and social connectedness is often a much more powerful motivator.
I agree 100% with many of the points – gamification is NOT a silver bullet. Sponsorship is critical to success of any cultural change. Tying all of this into performance management is important. KM must offer value to have long term success. Well-designed gamification draws you in initially, but then helps you quickly build mastery so you start to realize the value and intrinsic rewards in collaboration and develop the right habits. That’s when you get sustained behavior change.
Gamification is not easy. It can work, but it should not be taken lightly, and it should be viewed within the proper context.
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