This post was written by contributing writer Erik van Mechelen.
Collect till you can’t anymore
There’s something about collecting things that is an essential part of the human experience.
It’s in our nature.
We organized in groups to hunt and gather. Okay, we needed to survive.
But now we continue to collect.
Sure, there’s a counter-movement (minimalism), but even minimalists are in the business of collecting, often collecting experiences or relationships or something else they consider more valuable than material goods.
We collect stamps, rocks, feathers, books, ideas, friends, relationships, experiences. There’s something about it that we can’t avoid. Collecting can be about ownership and possession, or wealth and status, but however defined, you know it when you see it.
There’s a downside to collecting too much (perhaps). We all laugh or shake our heads when we see true hoarders in action, or people trampling one another on Black Friday. This could be some deranged form of the collecting mindset gone astray.
But it’s hard to make a case against the value of collections, whether inherent to themselves or to produce time savings or personalization.
Collections can be added to experiences, like my biology teacher in high school who had us collect 20 insects during our insect study (yes, it felt like Pokemon in real life). I get the same feeling as I collect knowledge and ideas from lectures and edutainment on YouTube.
When you interview for a job, the hiring manager will ask you for a collection of your experiences to discover if you have the skills and mindset to do the job and fit the culture of their company.
At bottom, life is a collection of experiences. Our past and present and future experiences coalesce to make a life. Collections matter.
Gamification, or the act of making something game-like, is certainly not something new. Throughout history, humans have tried to make existing tasks more intriguing, motivating, and even “fun.” When a small group of people casually decide to compete against each other in hunting and gathering, or simply start keeping score of their activities and comparing it to their past records, they are adopting principles that are prevalent in modern games to make tasks more engaging.
One of the earlier works done on adapting gameplay practices within the workplace can be traced back to 1984, when Charles Coonradt explored the value of adding game-play elements at work through his book The Game of Work. 1
Coonradt addressed the question, “Why would people pay for the privilege of working harder at their chosen sport or recreational pursuit than they would work at a job where they were being paid?” He then boiled it down to five conclusions that led to hobbies being more preferable to work.
• Clearly defined goals • Better scorekeeping and scorecards • More frequent feedback • A higher degree of personal choice of methods • Consistent coaching
As we dive deeper into our journey together, we will learn about how these factors boil down to specific motivation Core Drives that can be intently designed for.
On the other hand, some early forms of marketing gamification can also be seen in the form of (regrettably) “shoot the duck” banner ads on websites, where an image ad tempts users to click on it by displaying a duck flying around. These tactics have probably tricked many people, myself included, into clicking on them once or twice upon seeing them. Later on, eCommerce sites like eBay and Woot.com all adapted sound gamification principles to become hugely popular examples of how game mechanics and dynamics can really make a process fun and engaging (in later chapters, we will examine how both eBay and Woot.com utilize great gamifica- tion design to make purchases exciting and urgent).
Of course, as “games” evolved throughout the centuries, the art of “making things game-like” naturally evolved too. Through the ad- vent of the Internet, Big Data, pluggable frameworks, and stronger graphics, our ability to design and implement better gamification experiences has drastically improved to the point where we can now bring sophisticated and subtle game-like experiences into every aspect of our lives.
In recent years, the term “gamification” became a buzzword because the gaming industry shifted from making simple games that only target young boys, to social and mobile games like Farmville and Angry Birds that also appeal to middle-aged executives as well as senior retirees alike.
There are reasons we start things and reasons we stay engaged.
We wanted to learn more about our members in OP, so we asked:
Why did you start?
Why are you still here?
Here’s what we learned.
This was taken from a sample of our Octalysis Prime paying members, including some annual members.
About half of members changed their response, although you cannot see what they changed their response from and to.
Surveys are notoriously difficult to dissect, and so we do not rely on them exclusively to get to know our members.
Perhaps best are the in-person discussions we have with members. In these face-to-face interactions, people tend to share more personal stories about what brought them to Octalysis Prime, and what they are hoping to do next in their business and life.
Earlier in my career, I was deeply involved in Business Intelligence (BI). It occurred to me that BI is really good at determining what an organization should do next but offered no insight into those who’d do the work, the employees. That realization drove me to form the company I lead today, Centrical. Its aim is to help enterprises help their employees get better at what they do and make it fun in the process.
Given the fun element, it should not be surprising that advanced gamification is at the core of our technology platform which holistically blends it with personalized microlearning, and real-time performance management.
In the course of researching effective ways to apply game mechanics to a range of employee performance challenges, I came upon the work of Yu-kai Chou and, specifically, his gamification framework, Octalysis. I was struck by how it provided a problem-solution construct to identify the sort of game, or motivational device, needed to address a particular real-world business challenge.
The eight core drivers that make up the Octalysis are:
In the years since 2013, when the company was founded, we’ve developed gamification-centric solutions that touch on the core drives in the Octalysis framework for companies like Microsoft, Novartis, Synchrony Financial, and Unilever, among others. Here is a summary of that work and how it’s been applied to help our customers’ employees perform at their best.
Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling
Our first and most popular game mechanic is narratives. They take the form of races, involving cars, boats and mountain climbing. Yes, in our game you can run up Mount Everest. A number of our customers operate contact centers where literally thousands of employees field queries from customers. It’s tough work. Often in the last hour of a shift employees are drained. The centers handling Microsoft’s Consumer Support Operations wanted their service agents to make or take just one more call. We implemented a narrative game that gave employees a reason to make the effort. More than boosting sales, research among these employees found, as a result of the game, they felt they were part of something greater than themselves, and, importantly, their work made a difference. That’s what the core drive Epic Meaning & Calling is about.
Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment
This drive is associated with some tried-and-true game tools. Points, badges and leaderboards head that list. The old PBL’s will still work. But with a decidedly Millennial workforce, adjustments and additions are called for in today’s workplace. The leaderboards we create for customers are designed for maximum interactivity and filtering by each employee/user. Further, we leverage companies’ internal video networks and messaging platforms to showcase the leaderboard in a kind of overtly public manner to please top-performers and prompt others to greater levels. We also include a Kudos feature, a variation on what Yu-kai refers to as High Five.
The effect is the person getting the kudos feels a sense of accomplishment and recognition on top of Social Appreciation.
We’ve found that if we leave a gamification effort to PBLs only, engagement will drop; employees will stop looking at the boards because, more than losing interest, there’s no compelling reason to look. In this case, changing things up a bit, as simple as that may sound, makes a big difference in participation continuity.
Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
Even people who perform repetitive tasks will contend with creative problem solving, the very essence of this core drive. Interestingly, we’ve found many businesses need a number of ways to push this button in the hearts and minds of their employees. As it so happens, we offer game-driven features that relate directly to this core driver. Of note is our real-time feedback.
When employees wonder how they’re doing, they want to know now. A retroactive assessment can actually be a demotivator and, consequently, create a manager-employee relationship problem. Millennials look to their managers as coaches, people who can help improve their skills. If their 1:1 sessions are about stuff in the faded past, coaching can’t happen; confrontation will. Along with that capability, we offer manager messaging, allowing communications with individual team members or the entire group; another way of offering feedback based on need or urgency. Our platform also allows personalized messages to be sent to employees on an automated basis. Consider getting a notification that includes a reminder of a due date but also a digital pat on the back for work done well thus far.
Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession
I like to call this the pride of ownership drive. When we possess something, we strive to make it better. It’s like the teenager who is forever washing and polishing her/his new, albeit dilapidated, car. In a business context, it’s a little different. There the need to answer WIIFM is an imperative. Once answered, knowing what’s in it for me can be a powerful motivator. I see this as the drive that can truly serve to transform an employee. Once it becomes clear that it’s that employees stats, points, badges, whatever, s/he wants to keep it and will work hard to do so.
This core manifests itself as a competition on our platform that’s about gaining coins redeemable on virtual stores we operate on behalf of our customers. A multinational BPO that provides customer support services conducted just such a game among its many and diverse employees. Given the choice between tangible and intangible rewards – both of which could be delivered to their workstation in moments – these employees overwhelmingly opted for the ones that hold an intrinsic value. They selected accessories to add to their avatars which, not so incidentally, are seen on the company’s leaderboards. It wasn’t that the tangible rewards weren’t appealing. Employees wanted the sheer joy of feeling good about doing something well…or better than their peers…and leveling up.
Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness
Peer pressure, in a business situation, if managed well can have a dramatic, positive impact on organizational performance. We recognize that in our platform’s ability to put in place challenges that are peer-to-peer or team-based. In addition, our Kudos feature comes into play here. It relates to this drive in that employees can give and get kudos. There’s the social pressure aspect along with friending and mentorship.
Our Kudos includes categories like “You’re a great leader,” You’re Inspiring,” “Thanks for Your Help,” and “You’re Fun to Work With.” This allows employees to give and get kudos to coworkers and managers, and for managers to do the same. I should add, these kudos can include personalized notes. One of our clients used Kudos in this way to build a culture of cooperation as well as to identify the under-the-radar transformative employees, those receiving the most kudos.
Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience
This core centers on the human desire to have something you can’t or don’t have. We leverage that by allocating a limited number of reward prizes in virtual stores. Beyond that, we use it in challenges where there can be only one winner. While that might seem contrary to the desire to improve performance overall or give the impression that everyone has a chance to win, there are work situations where a company really wants to find out who is the very best of the bunch. To add fire to this fury, these single winner challenges, crafted to fit within several segments to allow for more than one victor, are often done within very tight timeframes.
Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity
The ice hockey great Wayne Gretsky is known for saying, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” Those seven words brilliantly sum up why unpredictability is a core driver. We want to find out – whatever it happens to be. And, by extension, curiosity has us poking our noses into things that, maybe, we shouldn’t be. In a work environment, employees are often moved by finding out what’s happening next or what needs to be done next. Our platform lets notifications be issued to let employees understand what they should do next in their jobs or to get closer to earning a bonus. Akin to notifications, our system issues what we call Boosters. These are messages that either urge an employee to keep up the good work or work a bit harder – always in a positive, motivational manner.
Another feature we have is User Initiated Challenges. Basically, these are competitions created by individual employees. The wrinkle we’ve put in is making it necessary to “put some skin in the game,” to ante up and either bet on themselves, for individual challenges, or with their peers. To participate in such a challenge, you need to buy in. It makes the challenges far more compelling than if there is little at risk.
Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance
As kids we might have done our homework just to avoid a punishment from our parents. Employees often operate the same way. For example, the idea of being able to maintain a streak of some sort, perhaps accumulating points in a process, is a powerful motivator.
At retail, asking sales associates to do what you need them to do isn’t always easy. While they’re competitive, finding the path of least resistance to their bonuses spurs them. Our customer Cellular Sales, a Verizon premier retail partner with 7,000 sales associates, had a problem each time a new iPhone hit the market. Sales of everything but the new device plummeted. Not a good thing for an organization that cannot depend on an unpredictable parade of hit products to drive sales. They used our KPI balance feature with a mix of competitions to help raise new device sales 53% but, and this is important, also raise sales of accessory sales and insurance bundles similarly.
There you have it. Eight real-world examples of how the Octalysis Gamification Framework was applied to the business needs of some of the world’s best and biggest brands. For more information about Centrical, please visit www.centrical.com, email to email@example.com, or call +1-800 538 4263.
About Gal Rimon
Gal founded Centrical (previously GamEffective) in 2013, with the vision of helping companies empower their employees’ performance, making them the center of business success. Prior to that, he was CEO of Gilon-Synergy Business Insight, a national leader in Business Intelligence. In 2010, Gilon-Synergy was acquired for $ 20 million by Ness Technologies (NASDAQ:NSTC) and Gal went on to serve as Senior VP at Ness and was a member of its executive management. Prior to that, he was VP customer relations and operations at Deloitte Consulting. He also worked at EDS and Bashan. He holds an MBA degree in Marketing and Information Technologies from Tel Aviv University.
About Centrical (formerly GamEffective)
Centrical employee engagement and performance management solutions help companies motivate employees to exceed their own goals. It does this by blending advanced gamification with personalized microlearning and real-time employee performance management. Centrical’s platform produces improvements like +12% employee productivity, +20% average deal values, +30% faster onboarding, and +12% customer satisfaction KPIs for multinational.
At its core is a gamified timer to decrease distraction from your mobile phone. In 2015-2016 this simple concept of “Don’t use this device or your plant will die!” was voted Google Best App of the Year. In 2018 it was nominated for Best Social Impact App and 2018 it was Google Play Editors’ Choice for Top Productivity App.
It has over 25 million downloads and over 2 million satisfied paying users. It is also responsible for planting over 600,000 real trees on Earth by their users (Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling) How does such a simple concept have such success? How do you feel about this short term engagement?
Will it keep you hooked in the long term? Would you pay for it?