Gamifying innovation: all can play, all can win

Photo: Abigail Keenan@Unsplash

One of the recurring preconceptions to overcome in any innovation management effort is that only experts are able to innovate. In a sense, it’s someone else’s job, not mine. This makes it difficult to bring people into the process and keep them motivated throughout the journey.

Typical innovation processes also too often fail in their communication strategy, and this can compromise: the process; the confidence treat between organisers and participants (and the possibilities to efficiently use a bidirectional mechanism to reinforce alignment between both parts); as well as the value of the incentives provided.

Knowingly, a weak communication plan or the misalignment with participants’ desires tend to make incentives less efficient – more than any tighter budget ever could. Processes that aren’t inclusive (only the creative ones are able to participate) and weak recognition and rewarding systems (only best X ideas get a prize) are likewise frequent culprits of failure.

How can we, then, gamify the innovation process to make it more inclusive, attractive, enjoyable, efficient, transparent and sustainable? That’s exactly what we’ve done.

Making it work
Exago’s innovation management software and services use collective intelligence to solve key business challenges. Our model uses gamification mechanisms to sustainably engage participants, harnessing their knowledge. From cost reduction or customer engagement to behavioral change, we help companies unleash their people’s hidden potential to achieve real results.

Step by step, we prepare the organisation for the process, by defining a governance model, a communication plan, an incentives plan, and by assuring the alignment and commitment of the leadership with the process. And we make sure this preparation has consequences on the mid-long-run.

The best governance model or a great communication plan attract people to participate, a vast portfolio of incentives is a strong driver for engaging people, but if the process doesn´t meet expectations and desires, they’ll soon quit. The dynamics fades away.

Our solutions, therefore, are thought to:

  • Fulfil people’s desires;
  • Be inclusive, motivating different players’ profiles (remember Bartle Test framework?);
  • Be transparent, so that participants realise its rules and constraints;
  • Provide (immediate) feedback for people to remain engaged and understand how they can improve their participation;
  • Provide social interaction, since competition, sharing and collaboration are decisive stimuli for people to contribute;
  • Have clear incentives and recognition mechanisms;
  • And finally, to be entertaining.

Our solutions also welcome all kinds of people. The most typical behaviours remind us of the four gamer profiles:

  • The achievers are the ones who participate the most with ideas and comments to gather as many points as possible. They become huge contributors.
  • The explorers, who love to look around, are great at helping the community discover other potential contributions. They submit insights and diversify overall participation by doing everything.
  • The socialisers stimulate others to enhance their contributions. They submit many suggestions for improvement and love to check out what is going on, as well as watch the leaderboards.
  • Last, the killers love to compete for the sake of competition and are very active in the selection and evaluation process of ideas. They are great at differentiating what is good from what is less good, and even greater at clarifying those ideas that are no good at all.

CONTINUE READING:
How exactly do we gamify innovation?

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

Why should you gamify innovation, anyway?

Photo: Colliefreund@Pixabay

Gamification relates to the desire for status, achievement and competition, making people feel fulfilled by their activities. But what benefits does this actually bring to your innovation initiatives?

By appropriately outlining gamified processes, you can:

  • Develop more loyalty in participants (whether they are customers, employees or others);
  • Promote more use;
  • Make a process go viral, radically increasing the number of participants;
  • Create a sense of identification with the brand, activity, product or other elements of the process.

These benefits are of extreme value within innovation initiatives, as any innovation manager well knows. In other words, gamification can play a leading role in motivating people and compelling them to participate and bring value to these initiatives – as leaders in innovation and management, such as Stefan Lindegaard, Paul Sloane, Matthew May and Michael Allen, have consistently pointed out.

When James Surowiecki wrote the bestseller ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ in 2005, he also highlighted the importance of gamification mechanisms to develop participation and sustainability in ideation processes. The benefits of gamifying innovation are also detailed by Gary Hamel (ranked as the world’s most influential business thinker by ‘The Wall Street Journal’):

‘Try to imagine what a democracy of ideas would look like. Employees would feel free to share their thoughts and opinions, however politically charged they might be. No single gatekeeper would be allowed to quash an idea or set the boundaries on its dissemination. New ideas would be given the chance to garner support before being voted up or down by senior execs. The internal debate about strategy, direction and policy would be open, vigorous and uncensored’.

CONTINUE READING:
All can play, all can win

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

Gamifying innovation: get to know your players

The greatest challenge in gamifying your innovation initiatives is to construct the process so that everyone, or at least the majority of people, will feel in the flow, as we’ve seen. But how can you efficiently engage as many ‘players’ as possible?

For that, you must first understand their different profiles. The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology classifies players of multiplayer online games into categories according to their gaming preferences. This framework works for most gamified situations.

a. Achievers
Players who prefer to get points, levels, equipment and other concrete measurements of success in a game. They’re looking for rewards in the status and prestige that comes with these items.

b. Explorers
Players that want to dig around within the environment. They don’t like timeframes requiring them to proceed because they enjoy exploring and discovering at their own pace (sometimes even more than progressing).

c. Socialisers
Those who participate and play for the social aspect rather than the actual game/challenge itself. These players are known as ‘hearts’. They like to interact with other people, and the game is just a tool or means to this.

d. Killers
They want to compete for the sake of competition, so they seek to vanquish and destroy other players. Showing everyone they are in control of the situation is their biggest motivation for participation. Killers are usually only 1% of the population, but they are the ones who participate the most intensively.

All of us tend to be in all quadrants depending on the project at hand and time in our lives. But identifying different players’ profiles helps when designing a gamified process and more effectively reaching target participants.

In a second step, while shaping a process that is appealing and sustainably engaging for the targeted participants, the designer identifies the engines that will guide them. This means understanding which game mechanics are more relevant to players’ specific desires (see the table below).

Source: Bunchball

The green dots refer to the most impactful game mechanics for each human desire. The grey ones show other mechanics that also have some relevance to specific desires.

All mechanics relate to the desire for status, achievement and competition. These are essential to reinforcing the engagement potential of gamified processes, so that people feel fulfilled by their activities.

But what benefits does this mechanics bring to your innovation initiatives? How can you apply it in developing them? We’ll discuss this in our next post.

CONTINUE READING
Why should you gamify innovation, anyway?

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.comFrancisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

Gami…what? How to make innovation fun

Photo: Arina P Habich@Shutterstock

We’ve said that gamification mechanics can make innovation management initiatives more appealing and successful, while drawing your people’s attention to key business challenges. But how exactly does this happen?

Since the dawn of civilisation, generations have learned through games. From learning basic numbers and letters to eating and caring for others, games help transform boring activities.

There’s nothing wrong with fun. In fact, in modern society – including the corporate world – interacting and ‘playing’ with the Internet and mobile apps are part of our daily routine. You may not notice it, but most apps are actually productivity tools, with gamification to make them more attractive.

What is gamification all about?
Gamification is the use of game elements and design techniques in non-game contexts. These elements (also called ‘game mechanics’) include:

  • Points
  • Quests
  • Avatars
  • Social graphs (interaction)
  • Levels
  • Progression
  • Badges

Design techniques are used to make participation fun, while non-game contexts entail that the participant’s goal is other than success in the game. Anyway, a game is only a game when it’s voluntary. A handful of gamification characteristics make the process fun, attractive and engaging:

  • Feedback (immediate and constant)
  • Transparency (clear rules and visibility in the process and progression)
  • Progression (sense of moving forward)
  • Social interaction (knowledge sharing, competition and collaboration)
  • Recognition (badges, points and leaderboards)

Who’s in?
Gamification aims at making an activity enjoyable for participants, and this pleasure is achieved when the participant is ‘in the flow’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an expert on the topic of happiness, describes being in the flow as ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the precious one…’

The ‘flow’ needs to fall between boredom (too easy) and anxiety (too hard/confusing). The difficulty lies in making people feel in the flow. And this becomes even more complex when the community isn’t necessarily homogeneous – people sharing interests.

World of Warcraft players have a common interest – enjoying the game – but the same doesn’t always happen for employees of Company X. The challenge is how to construct the process so that everyone, or at least the majority of people, will feel in the flow.

To engage as many players as possible, the designer must first understand their different profiles. We’ll see how you can identify them in our next post.

CONTINUE READING:
Get to know your players

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

More than ever, companies need to engage their employees to assure long-term viability. Yet, overwhelmed with information, people’s attention spans have become shorter and shorter. Their willingness to contribute to lateral activities has shrunk, particularly if these are boring or create anxiety. And innovation is often no fun…or can it be?

Innovation is at the top of every organisation’s leadership agenda these days. The renowned McKinsey Global Survey found that 84 percent of executives recognise innovation is very or extremely important to their companies’ growth strategy.

Worldwide, businesses and organisations realise they may be doomed to compete in a ‘red ocean’ where prices and margins sink downward. To prevent this downward spiral, new ideas and outside the box thinking are essential – to create differentiated business models, products and services, as well as competitive cost structures. This is no time to roll the dice and leave it all to luck.

But again, how can you draw your people’s attention to key business challenges? Gamification has proved to be a powerful way to close this focus gap.

In a series of posts, we will we take you through gamification’s definition and main features, presenting a model that efficiently adopts gamification mechanics – making innovation initiatives appealing and successful.

Ready to play the innovation game?

CONTINUE READING:
Gami…what? How to make innovation fun
Get to know your players
Why should you gamify innovation, anyway?
All can play, all can win
How exactly do we gamify innovation?

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com