Implementing Gamification in your Workplace Part 2/4: How to Onboard & 7 Things to Avoid When Implementing Gamification at Work

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen

Onboarding gamification

We recently asked you why you were part of the Octalysis Explorers Facebook group or joined the Kickstarter for Octalysis Prime. The largest segment of responses fell into this category:

“I want to implement gamification in my workplace.”

Maybe this is even a goal for you in 2017. This is part 2 of a 4-part series (here is Part 1: Getting Buy-in from your Boss).

Once you complete this article, move on to Part 3.

The following is my thought process and recommendations for a human-focused redesign.

Please note: I will reference the 8 Core Drives throughout this post: 

Who are you?

Whether you’re a leader, team manager, experience designer, product developer, or hustler might change to what extent your proposals and ability to onboard are successful. But don’t let your position in your organization hinder you. And don’t assume that if you’re the CEO everyone will immediately jump on the train.

If you’re a team manager, you might have already seen the article on Octalysis for Team Managers, or our post on motivating salespeople.

From here, instead of prescribing the details of how to proceed, I’ve made a list of actions and situations to avoid. Proceed with a balance of enthusiasm and strategy!

7 things to avoid when implementing gamification at work

  1. Starting without buy-in from your boss
  2. Forgetting about motivation (the core Drives)
  3. Not understanding player types
  4. Going too fast
  5. Embarking without allies
  6. Not being ready for different speed/adoption by players (super users, etc)
  7. Not being committed (when you start something, show up every day)

1. Starting without buy-in from your boss

If you’re an employee, your boss or manager will be a key ally, from motivation to operational requirements through to funding. Make sure he or she is on your side! (Here’s my previous article, Part 1: Getting Buy-in from your Boss).

The Strategy Dashboard can be a very valuable conversation starters. Tools like Sketch can help you create mockups once you reach that stage (and if you have a software-focused gamification design).

Also, if you haven’t, check out more about the Discovery phase, since implementation requires your organization already be aware of the power of gamification. And YOU are going to help them discover this exciting news (if you haven’t already).

2. Forgetting about motivation (the 8 Core Drives)

Gamification is so much more than badges, points, and leaderboards. You need to have a baseline understanding of all of the 8 Core Drives (even if you don’t always remember the numbers for them).

You can, however, use the Octalysis tool as consistent visual artifacts to give your design backbone.

If I was proposing 20% at my office, I might begin with the following exercise, envision a shared place to share projects with a community facilitator sharing news and giving feedback on interesting projects.

3. Not understanding player types

What are the people in your organization motivated by? Do these motivations vary from person to person? What about from season to season? Are certain times of the year more or less stressful?

These questions can help you understand how to design and implement your changes.

If you like, you can check your preparation by creating personas.

The workplace is also full of Anti Core Drives.

For several years, my brother Mark has contemplated leaving work as a risk manager and crude analyst for an energy commodities trading firm to follow his passion of creating and producing music. When asked why he won’t, he cites losing progress toward a prestigious and lucrative role as an energy commodities trader, among other things. His Desired Action (to live a life making music) is fueled by Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, but that Core Drive is first dampened and then repeatedly defeated by its Anti Core Drive. In this case, the Anti Core Drive is Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

Knowing these personal stories can help you adapt your design even after you’ve implemented (or learned from customer surveys or experiments with early designs).

4. Going too fast and flying blind

Make your onboarding actions easy and looped to give people confidence as they get into the system.

If you’re not using metrics to monitor early users, you’re flying blind. Define at least one primary metric and collect feedback, even if that feedback must by design be qualitative (hopefully you have some way of a quantitative feedback).

5. Embarking without allies

If I was implementing 20% Time at my organization and using a forum-based sharing and collaboration space, I would definitely give someone the role of Community Facilitator. This person will be involved in making sure everyone has a great time, stays motivated, and ultimately adds value to each others’ experience. (If your employees don’t add value during 20% Time, then your company won’t reach its Win States).

Remember, early adopters or users of your gamification implementation can help mobilize and help others. You probably already know who those people will be. Ally and align with them.

6. Not being ready for varying speeds

If you’re not ready for growth you might miss an opportunity to make your gamification implementation a great success.

Think: “This may not happen, but if it does we will do this and this and we’ll be ready for the growth.”

Once again, your allies can be called to your aid if your gamification implementation goes better than expected early on.

7. Not being committed

Remember why you wanted to do this and why your boss was bought in. Be consistent with what you say you will do and deliver.

As a reminder from Part 1, your boss could be interested in his own promotion or status (Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession), or she could be a very curious person who is eager to experiment (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback AND Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity).

If you don’t know what your boss is motivated by, you need to do some detective work. If you have regular meetings with your boss, you can simply ask: “What’s most important to you in the next 6 months, 12 months, 18 months?” Or “What are you most concerned about in regard to the business in the next 12 months?” These are just starting points that could get a conversation going.

Get started with Onboarding

Avoid the above, good luck, and look forward to the next part of this series: Part 3/4 about preparing and managing your gamification implementation at work for the Scaffolding phase!

5 Books that Welcomed me to Games and Gamification

This post was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen

The value of reading

With non-fiction, I usually read quickly (scan), apply what I’ve learned, then come back later as needed to refresh. I prefer to learn by doing. This is the case for my education in gamification, too (I built an iPhone app instead of reading too much about it.)

For me, books are just a great way to see how others have done it and test against your own approach.

I borrowed my brother’s copy of The Lord of the Rings from his bookshelf. I was nine years old. Ever since, reading has been my favorite way to consume content. With a book in hand or on screen, I can read as fast or as slow as I want, mark the pages, save comments for later, and return to the book when needed. (I still think reading is one of the biggest level-ups any parent can give their child. And I believe that many of us can improve our reading ability and critical thinking well into adulthood.)

Continue reading 5 Books that Welcomed me to Games and Gamification

Where to Start Your Gamification Journey

This post is written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen. 

Gamification has evolved

As Yu-kai discusses in Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, gamification has been around and has evolved to the point that many professionals have heard about or even engaged with at least elementary gamification material.

Some people immediately see the advantages of human-focused design in the creation of products, particularly web or mobile apps. But we know gamification as defined by human-focused design (thanks for this distinction, Yu-kai!) is applicable to so many other areas, like:

  • marketing gamification
  • lifestyle gamification
  • workplace gamification

We’re also seeing gamification taught in universities and online programs. With so many courses and books to choose from, it’s hard to choose what will be right for you.

Right for you might mean most applicable to achieving your goals of improving your lifestyle, whether your health or relationship with your kids. If this was your aim setting out, you might have fallen into the trap of a self-help book about fitness or parenting, so good for you for checking out gamification instead!
It’s so important to know yourself and know what you’re looking for.

In this post, I’ll start with my learning journey, then discuss a few options to starting or continuing your gamification journey. Who knows, it might last a lifetime!

Continue reading Where to Start Your Gamification Journey

How to Create a Gamified Chore App with Octalysis

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen.

Kids don’t like chores

Getting kids active and participating in household chores has many benefits, but have you ever had trouble persuading your kids to help out around the house?

I know as I kid I wasn’t easily persuaded to do things that weren’t my idea. In Gabon, when I was four, my parents couldn’t even get me to try a single slice of pizza! (Eventually, I tried it and thought it tasted amazing.)

Chores felt like work, which was worse than homework. I’d finally finish my homework, be ready to play, then BAM, my mom or dad would show up with a chore to do. (Chores often are work.)

My guess is a lot of parents don’t bother with getting their kids to help out with household chores. These parents probably have excuses like:

  • “Too much effort to keep them motivated.”
  • “The kids will just whine and complain.”
  • “It will be faster to do the chores ourselves.”

But these parents are missing a great opportunity to implement lifestyle gamification to motivate and reward their kids for helping around the house. Busy parents, take note!

Continue reading How to Create a Gamified Chore App with Octalysis

Implementing Gamification in Your Organization Part 1/4: Getting Buy-In from Your Boss

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen, based on knowledge shared by Yu-kai Chou. 

Workplace gamification interest is growing

We recently asked you why you were part of the Octalysis Explorers Facebook group or joined the Kickstarter for Octalysis Prime. The largest segment of responses fell into this category:

“I want to implement gamification in my workplace.”

Maybe this is even a goal for you in 2017. With this feedback, we’ve decided to kick off a series about implementing gamification in the workplace. This is part 1 of a 4-part series. (If you’re a manager yourself, you might have noticed this, although it is very specific to using Level II Octalysis for manager-employee relationships.)

Continue reading Implementing Gamification in Your Organization Part 1/4: Getting Buy-In from Your Boss