Winning with low hanging fruits

In every strategy session around gamification, learner or employee engagement or even digital transformation, we typically find that there are some low hanging fruits ready for picking. They can range from existing policies or ways of working that should need a simple tweak to rethinking the process so it is more efficient for all involved. Even simply removing the most frustrating parts out of a process can be enough to create a quick improvement in your target objectives.

In any given workshop with a strategic or design intent, we always find the high-level longer-term objectives which will take a bit of effort and research to put into place. But in each, we also find that by talking through a stumbling block or a process, that there are ways of helping people along without heavy investment or research. It is often the first time a whole team has spent time looking at improving the process or spoke in a facilitated discussion with a higher level purpose in mind.

When there is no facilitator in the room and it is business as usual, hierarchy or experience or even territorialism tends to rule. That doesn’t mean people do this with malicious intent, but it does mean the real truth is sidestepped or not deemed too important. No matter what size the organisation is, very few are able to look independently at how things work between teams to improve efficiency. Often someone will feel targetted and then entrench their perspective.

A good facilitator will enable the discussion to remain non-people targeted but focused on improving the process. It means all teams can be vulnerable without having to give up territory. Strategy implementation design is so much about people and less about systems or even processes even though you need all of them.

Delivering a new strategy takes effort and involvement from a whole range of people: clients, beneficiaries, employees and on occasion external reviewers. Open-mindedness and feedback are important for all involved.

The choice of low hanging fruits to start with is also an interesting discussion. Typically the decision points include budget, ease of implementation and impact it will achieve. Taking even a first step after a strategy or design thinking workshop is vital and low hanging fruits provide a good opportunity to show that you do want to change. You also want to schedule to other longer-term activities, but there may be a delay in implementation and results, which may make some people think that nothing is happening and momentum is being lost.

The thing about creating change is always taking the first next step.

What are gamification techniques, elements and strategies?

When you work in an industry it is really easy to become absorbed by wording and to assume everyone will naturally understand them. In fact even the term gamification, still often confuses people. It is why we post our definition on our homepage, “Gamification is the application of game psychology, game dynamics and game mechanics to a non-game situation”. The non-game situation, can be any business process where people are central to its success.

The strategies we design are often called gamification strategies or engagement strategies for those that dislike the term gamification. A strategy gives answers to the questions “why”, “what” and “what will success look like”. It outlines which business processes are included, who the key people are and what we understand their key motivations to be based on user research.

Gamification dynamics or techniques are the experiences you want to create at meaningful points in the business process. In my view this is more granular than the strategy. In sports terms it is the actual tactics used in a specific game, rather than wanting to end up top of the league which could be the over-arching strategy. Certain game elements will invoke game dynamics, often based in the intrinsic motivations of end-users. For example, a people related leaderboard game element will introduce a dynamic of competition, some players will find this motivating, some won’t.

The game elements are really the mechanics that make the game play work. In any game you play on your phone, you will have levels, points, some celebration of achievement or feedback when you don’t progress. Each of these are game elements or game mechanics.

Our advice for people starting with gamification, is to spend enough time and effort in the design of the strategy an understanding the motivations of your target audience. It will make the use of both game dynamics and game elements so much easier.