What does success look like?

In all of our gamification design work, we ask the question to break down what will tell them that they have been successful with this project. I have rarely had a straight answer, it usually requires a bit of thought and reflection on what it truly is that people would consider as a successful outcome. Because we often work on the theme of increasing engagement, we will also ask to first define engagement and then to break it down into measurable steps.

It seems like an obvious question, yet very few people when embarking on a gamification project seem to start with the end in mind. Usually the conversation they have had is, wouldn’t it be great if we had the world of warcraft of business productivity or we want a formula 1 race style competition for sales. It may sound funny, but when people come with that kind of narrative, my first question is why? At that point the real reasons come out.

One thing to watch out for is that gamification is often thought of as a solution to poor or mediocre people management practices. I usually point out early on that if people management is not addressed in the process, then the investment may not succeed. Meaning that really where a manager should be speaking to his or her team or individuals within it, no game mechanic or dynamic will replace it.

What we encourage clients to do when coming up with the behaviour they want to encourage to achieve their vision of success, is to look at the highly productive or the highly successful already working for them. Examine what it is they do consistently and break that down into a process that could be transferred to others. We did it for a sales organisation, where there was a vast discrepancy between the consistently great and the hit and miss sales people. In fact analysing the behaviours found that the successful people were making more calls, asking more questions, spending more time understanding their client and asking for feedback on the potential solution as well as asking for the sale. You may think that this sounds obvious, but the behaviours of those that only hit their targets some of the time, displayed a different pattern typically starting with less calls, not many useful questions, etc.

So in order to gamify for success, we know we had to build in learning related quests to upskill the ones who were not yet consistent. For those that were already hitting targets, there were personal stretch goals or fine tuning of a specific skill. Each month you could qualify for a lunch club based on some specific metrics of the month, the lunch club included meeting people of importance from senior management to local success stories.

Defining success is an essential part for any gamification designer to be able to design win conditions around, you need them for the overall game purposes but also for all the levels and quests in between.

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