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Just Thinking about Gamification Can Boost Organizational Performance

Providing organizational leaders with a brief introduction to the somewhat controversial topic of gamification—applying game mechanics to non-game activities to shape and motivate behaviors by engaging participants—is a key feature of i4cp’s new white paper, Gamification for Performance: A Briefing for Business Leaders. Of particular benefit is the Readiness Assessment Checklist included in the paper. It offers a great tool to help leaders walk through the relevant considerations in contemplating the usefulness of gamification in a company or business function.

But the paper also makes clear that, when gamification is done well, the associated analysis and development processes underscore some important points—concepts that extend beyond new-age gamification to encompass the old-fashioned notion of good business sense. Most importantly, they can provide performance-boosting insights.

First, when considering the use of gamification, a business leader needs to take stock of his or her organizational culture. Are employees flexible if asked to do work in new ways? Does the culture support change and adoption of new ideas and processes? Whether or not gamification is the end goal, the good-business-sense point here is that a periodic look at organizational culture through a critical lens can be illuminating. Is the culture healthy? And is it supporting the business initiatives and objectives (gamification or otherwise) it needs to promote? If the answers are no, there’s important work to be done.

Gamifying a process necessitates an initial in-depth examination of how that work gets done. That involves deconstructing the process to see how an employee performs it. The result offers a step-by-step how-to guide for that particular job. How often do managers take time to analyze existing processes in such detail? Time and business constraints don’t lend themselves to such pursuits, but occasionally analyzing or re-thinking key processes and procedures can be a constructive method of discovering unrealized efficiencies and refining job performance.

When gamification designers study work processes, they look at the behaviors that high-performing employees engage in to accomplish the tasks. In essence, they define success as it relates to the specific process, and they spell out what high-performing workers do to achieve that success. Isn’t peak performance exactly what we should be defining for all employees? Yet job descriptions in organizations are written around “minimum qualifications and minimum expectations.” Perhaps it’s time to re-write them to maximize performance and encourage success.

Whether or not gamification seems an appropriate choice for an organization, the analyses involved in considering it provide useful reminders that reviewing and understanding how work is done, how success is defined, and how culture shapes the workplace are important components in business performance. To learn more about the analytical steps toward gamification (applicable to other business goals as well), download Gamification for Performance: A Briefing for Business Leaders, available exclusively to i4cp members.