Re: Gamification in KM - real experiences #gamification

Stephen Bounds

Hi Tom,

I completely agree that we shouldn't fall into the trap of saying "X is a game, therefore all games must be X". And the definition of a game is notoriously slippery. On the other hand, most people agree that games consist of some or all of:

- defined goals
- defined rules
- challenge (self-imposed, or mutually agreed), and
- interaction

The question is - what is the minimum number of these which must be present to qualify as a game? Intuitively I feel that we must have at least *two*, because any single factor could simply be described as "life".

Therefore I have a couple of quibbles. Firstly, the PepsiCo approach wasn't described in the article as "self-blogging", but more a scrapbook approach of cutting and pasting pre-approved articles. Also, there was no approval of these scrapbooks; the approval happened earlier at the individual article stage. So *as described* this won't meet the test of being a game, since there aren't rules, challenge or defined goals. It's just a tool that can be used.

Now, you seem to be saying that the existence of this framework allowed employees to participate in a game to get their articles published. But this appears to be "gaming the system" (an unintentional side-effect) rather than an intentional effort by Pepsi to promote this behaviour.

Which kind of raises the point: if employees are creating games in *response* to your management activities, is that still gamification? I would argue not.

-- Stephen.

Stephen Bounds
Director & Principal Consultant
knowquestion Pty Ltd
M: 0401 829 096

On 12/05/2013 1:07 AM, Tom wrote:
Hi Stephen - based on the research I've done on this topic this example
fits well the definition of gamification: using game-based design
principles in non-game contexts.

The question is what constitutes 'game-based design principles', and
that is a fair question. As for the non-game context, I think it's
pretty clear, as you point out, that the Pepsico example is not a
non-game context.

In Kevin Wehrbach's Coursera course on gamification he discusses the
game-based design principles that can be leveraged when looking at
gamification in the workplace.

The traditional game elements that first come to mind for many people
are points, a leaderboard, status levels, and badges (PBLS). While these
are certainly legitimate, and have been the focus of business use of
gamification for the companies catering to the social media crowd (eg,
Bunchball, Badgeville, others), there are game design elements beyond
these, that can be leveraged as well, that don't require a social media
platform to use them on (necessarily).

Some of these include a defined game space, rules, and willing
acceptance of both by the participants. In other words, the participants
have to be voluntary, not conscripted. Thinking about gamification using
these elements requires a good deal of abstraction away from the PBLS
that first come to mind when the word 'gamification' is uttered. Which
is unfortunate, because it is already resulting in a lot of wrong-headed
efforts that are bound to fail (Gartner reckons 70% or more of the
gamification efforts companies have embarked on will fail, in fact).

So, with that in mind, the other key ingredient, beyond identifying the
game space and rules, is coming up with an actual 'game' that would be
interesting enough to the 'players' (ie employees), such that they would
become willing participants in it.

As we know, sustainable behavior change is generally not easy to affect
in the workplace at scale, so the obvious place to look is where there
is already a behavior type occuring, that is seen to be beneficial by
the business, which could be extended through the use of gamification.

In this case, Pepsi saw that employees were already interested in
blogging about their brand out of a sense of pride. The brilliance of
this case example is that rather than try to control it, and tamp down
the enthusiasm that was clearly evident here, they decided to harness
it, by creating a game space, rules, and rewards for 'winning.' The game
space was blogging for public consumption; the rules were, the blogs
would be subject to a review, and the ones that were deemed appropriate
for external publication would be published; and the reward for winning
was being able to point your friends, family members and colleagues to
your blog post out on the public web.

This is simple, elegant, and subtle- but it does fit the definition of
gamification. For my money, efforts like this are much more sustainable
over the long term, and can generate powerful results for enterprises.

So - is this really anything dramatically new? Well, maybe not. It's
more of a new way of thinking about things that we've been doing all
along, that results in a reframing of how we view those things. The
result is we become more focused on identifying other opportunities that
fit that new frame, and thus become more deliberate about how we
identify and evaluate them, and do something about them. Remind you of
anything else this group has talked about?? :-) Knowledge management,

- Tom

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