Gaming My Team, Part 1: Context and Launch

For quick reference, this is a project inspired by Yu-kai Chou's book, Actionable Gamification.  For a bit longer reference, go get yourself a copy of Actionable Gamification and read it for yourself.  Trust me, it's well worth the time.

Though most of the book focuses on consumer and marketing applications of Octalysis, Yu-kai talks a lot about gamification of workplaces and clearly has an even greater passion for gamification of life.  I think his observations about the way companies typically try to motivate employees are very insightful.  I'm going to build a gamification strategy using his Yu-kai's techniques and try to improve my team's performance as a team and individuals, as well as each person's enjoyment of his or her work.

My first step will be using the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard to develop an overall plan.  (But if you're going to take my advice and learn about Octalysis yourself, don't start with that link.  Go instead to the official Start Here, and/or pick up a copy of Actionable Gamification.  And incidentally, though I've quickly become an avid student, I'm just that -- Mr. Chou doesn't know me and I'm not a sales representative.  Now that I've given the context for my project, I won't keep telling you to buy his book.)

Here are some background bullets about my team:

  • There will be at least 6 team members involved.

  • Each individual is 30 to 50 years old.

  • Each one has worked in a corporate environment for at least five years, and they'll all been with our company for at least five years.

  • Their work has a very technical focus, and each person is a specialist in a technical discipline.

  • The team is part of a larger organization (about 75 people) who all work together to the benefit of internal stakeholders in a company of ~100,000 people.

I've written a set of interview questions to gain some insight in formulating the strategy, but more on that later.

Today I'm focused on some general principles I'm considering for the exercise:

  1. It must be clear to the participants that this game has no impact on performance reviews, financial rewards, etc.  It's not an HR-sponsored exercise, so I'll have to explicitly specify that rewards in the game are not directly related to performance reviews.

  2. Despite General Principle #1, the desired actions and outcomes of the game should be aligned with desired actions in our day to day work.

  3. The win-state is not an accumulation of more "points" than the other participants.  Though I haven't finalized my Strategy Dashboard, a key characteristic of the win-state is that each individual will have developed more intrinsic motivation than pay checks and avoidance of job loss when performing daily work.

  4. As this is a team, not a workgroup, the game should include investment in other people's success.

  5. If any team member feels uncomfortable with the "game," he/she must have the ability to opt out.

More to come, including the development of my Strategy Dashboard and some thoughts on Miracle League Baseball.