How Loss and Avoidance Could Sink Your Company

This article is written by Erik van Mechelen based on the Octalysis framework by Yu-kai Chou.

How Loss and Avoidance Could Sink Your Company

It is hard to eliminate Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance from your company culture, but it should not be the main driver of decision-making.

Wells Fargo’s quota system gone wrong

Wells Fargo has been in the news for the wrong reasons. 3.5 million accounts were found to have been created fraudulently by employees. The company settled a law suit for 9-figures.

It turns out these accounts were created by employees hoping either to retain their jobs based on required quotas or to achieve better bonuses. (The company has since removed sales quotas.)

From the employees’ perspective, making the choice to do the right thing often meant they were worsening their personal financial situation (risking their job financial compensation).

There are risks in addition to benefits of implementing competition in the workplace.

From Actionable Gamification:

Adding competition-driven stress to the daily challenges that employees face can often increase the probability of burnout and skewed performance. Employees may become more motivated to make each other fail and even look for new opportunities elsewhere. In my own experiences, when people around me constantly talk about quitting their jobs, more often than not it is because of dysfunctional people dynamics between their bosses and/or coworkers, and not because the tasks themselves are too difficult.

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Don’t Empower Anybody

This article is written by Claire Lew who is the CEO of Know Your Company, a software tool that helps CEOs get to know their employees better and overcome company growing pains.

Don’t “Empower” Anybody

I hate the word “empowerment.”

I never think I should “empower” anyone — especially our employees.

Why? The definition of the word “empower” is:

to give power to (someone); to make (someone) stronger and more confident.

The key words here are “give” and “make.” Empowerment means you’re transferring power to someone else. You think someone else needs you — your permission, your influence, your talents — to do something. And I don’t ever believe that’s the case.

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Gamifying Company Politics: Chou’s Corporate Player Types

Corporate Gamification Player TypesThe Corporate Environment is a Terrible Game

This post is a little different to what I usually write. It is not about my Octalysis Framework (but there are some core foundational principles derived from it), but rather on my observations after working with a significant amount of corporate companies.

Most employees dislike the politics and culture within their corporate environment for a multitude of reasons.

  • Your coworkers and allies are also your competitors.
  • You don’t know who is actually playing nice or pretending to play nice.
  • Sucking up seems to be more important than doing good work.
  • When working between departments, people would spend an hour explaining why they shouldn’t do something that would take 15 minutes.
  • People fight to claim credit and put the blame on others.

This has demoralized the motivation of many employees, which results in low productivity, bad-mouthing the company after work, and high turnover rate.

Of course, being a manager is extremely difficult too. You have to deal with this most fuzzy thing called human emotions. It’s confusing and irrational. Many of the smartest people in the world with ridiculous IQs were terrible at  figuring out human feelings.

I remember many years ago, when my friends first entered the workforce, they would complain how their bosses are incompetent idiots that didn’t understand the business at all. However, I’m almost 100% certain that, besides a few exceptions, now that these friends are managers themselves, people under them are calling them incompetent idiots.

Clearly, it is very difficult being a good manager.

Based on my observations, I’ve created a quick player type matrix for the corporate environment so managers would have a strategy guide to follow. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be some great gamified player type theory that I spent years perfecting. There are many others like Richard Bartle and Andrzej Marczewski who have more robust gamified player type concepts that I highly recommend.

Gamifying Company Politics: Chou’s Corporate Player Types

Corporate Gamification Player Types.001

The key principle in my Corporate Player Types, is that I divide all employees into two characteristics: performance, and politics.

Performance simply means how well the employee can carry out their responsibilities. This factors in work ethics but is focused on end deliverables. If an employee works hard but cannot produce good work, then performance is low. However, this should NOT factor “business impact,” simply because business impact is a result of having both performance and political skills.

Politics means how good (or proactive) the employee is at making friends within the organization. These are people who regularly say nice things to others, ask coworkers out for lunch, and proactively try to impress their superiors. They also tend to make something harsh sound more pleasant to the ear, even if it means sugarcoating the information a little bit, or having slight exaggeration or omission. They aren’t “liars” in most socially acceptable standards, but they are very driven by extrinsic goals and therefore pick what they say carefully and strategically.

Any 2×2 matrix divides people into four different categories: Low Performance and Low Politics, High Performance but Low Politics, High Politics but Low Performance, and High Performance and High Politics.

Corporate Gamification Player Types

Gamified Player Type: Survivors

For the Low Performance and Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Survivors.” Survivors are there simply to collect a paycheck (Core Drive 4) and not get fired (Core Drive 8). As a result, they usually just work hard enough to collect their paychecks and not get fired, and then they stop exerting effort.

Survivors are not necessarily dumber or less efficient at what they do. More often than they are just not motivated or incentivized to do good work. Survivors often like to say things like, “Why should I do this? I won’t get paid more to do it.” or “Last year I did way more work but I didn’t get a bonus. There’s no point.”

Gamified Player Type: Performers

For the High Performance but Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Performers.” Performers are people who do great work and finish their deliverables in efficient and reliable manners. They are often the people that solve problems that no one else on the team can solve. However, they have a natural dislike (or ignorance) towards corporate politics, and therefore never spend the time to make friends or work on other peoples’ feelings and motivations.

Performers also don’t suck up to their bosses and would do career suicide moves like telling their VP, “I can’t go to your dinner party because I need to think about how to execute on the plan next week.” Performers usually dislikes those who are good at politics, thinking them as “phony” and “insincere.” They inherently believe that, “As long as I do a good job, I will be given my fair reward. That will show those fancy-mouth ass-kissers.”

Gamified Player Type: Politicians

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3 Reasons Holacracy Didn’t Work for Medium: A Perspective from Octalysis Design

This post was written by Erik van Mechelen and takes the lens of Octalysis, a human-focused design framework built by Yu-kai Chou.

From first principles

Management is meant to facilitate the best use of people and their skills/talents toward productivity in pursuit of an organization’s objectives. This is what management is (in my words).

Management fits into a larger structural system, which could be flat or hierarchical or hybrid. (Big misconception: Holacracy = Flat…it doesn’t.)

I previously wrote about the Holacracy experiment at Zappos led by Tony Hsieh, which took about 2.5 years to get up and running for a 1,000-employee company. As I learn more about Holacracy itself and do more thinking about leadership and management and productivity, I can’t help thinking about why some systems work for some companies and not for others.

What distinguishes a framework that works in one instance but not another?

In this article, I’ll take a think through some possibilities in the context of Zappos’s continued experiment with Holacracy and Medium’s decision to abort it.

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How to Implement Gamification at Work, Part 3/4: Scaffolding, Building Toward the Endgame

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen based on the ideas of Yu-kai Chou

Scaffolding workplace 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 3 of a 4-part series (here is Part 1: Getting Buy-in from your Boss and here is Part 2: How to Onboard and 7 Things to Avoid When Implementing Gamificiation at Work).

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

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