Jun 172010
 

GAMIFICATION of the Enterprise: Rewarding badges and points systems on your intranet – social scorecards – could be the turning point for turning your enterprise 2.0 systems from a thing of work to a thing of play. Foursquare becomes Social Work and all the better for it. And don’t be surprised if Facebook comes up with some kind of Facebook Credits/Work Game scorecard integration. If you are new to these concepts you might like Verified Accounts and Leadership Badges or, more likely, The Role of Leaderboards in Online Communities.

Yesterday I attended the Sharepoint geekfest at The Hilton Sydney. I plonked myself down in the front row, iPad at the ready, to listen to Daniel McPherson (danmc) talk about socialising the business with Sharepoint. His company is ZevenSeas which wins points for having a cool name, I reckon.

The Game of Work and Gamification

One item caught my attention: turning work into a game. Daniel proposed that we set up Foursquare style badges to encourage staff to contribute and use the internet. Just before I go into his concepts, I want to point out that yes, I know it’s not a new concept. But. But. Ideas have their time, and I think Foursquare might just put Achievements (a la World of Warcraft) and karma points (everyone really, starting with Slashdot) onto the Enterprise 2.0 agenda. Before today, and probably still in many companies, the response to Badges for incentives would be met with a sneer and a “who gives a flying fig about stamps of approval?”. Now we can see leaderboards and games played out in social spaces, it’s easier to buy into as a concept. Maybe your work day will soon have a game attached. Badges for no missed sick days would be a good start. *cough cough* Australian winters aren’t that cold but still seem rife with flu. *cough cough*

ZevenSeas and Sharepoint:

What Dan showed us, in prototype was a module – or whatever Sharepoint calls plugins (WordPress) and components (Joomla!) – which allowed Leaders to set badge names and criteria for meeting that badge. I can’t remember the actual badges but it was something like Video Hero for people who rate or comment on Corporate Videos on the intranet, and so on. I couldn’t find anything on his site, and actually wish the whole presentation had been on this concept, rather than just a few minutes. Though to be honest, given the “But does Twitter have a business use” questions, the audience weren’t quite ready to make the work place a fun and social environment. Mores the pity. :P

Taking Badges Further:

I use incentives to reward influencers in my online communities in three ways:

  • Points for repetitive, ongoing and countable activity. A point for every comment you make, a point for every video uploaded etc. Get to 1000 points to get a new BADGE. Foursquare give you points for first login of the day, for becoming a Mayor etc. ENTERPRISE: points for logging in, points for updating status, points for completing a ToDo item, points for rating anothers business blog post, points for contributing to the  wiki (I think Confluence has that built in?) and so on.
  • Badges for levelling rewards. Reach a target or goal. Uploaded 30 videos? Get a Broadcaster badge. Commented 1000 times? Get an Oversharing badge. Foursquare has secret World Cup badges (you have to check in at a world cup pub in one of six locations around the world). ENTERPRISE: contributing to an unpopular wiki subject, logging in before 9am, talking like a pirate on pirate day.
  • Titles for acknowledging quality input. Obvious one is Community Moderator for those that volunteer community admin duties. Teacher titles for those that are helpful. Newbie for newcomers. Some of these are manually entered, others are automatic. I tend to use Titles to show that the “Gods of the Community” are paying attention and approving certain behaviours. Badges are automatic. ENTERPRISE awkward because enterprise is hierarchal from top down. Perhaps the future manager is appointed by the “machine” given their contribution, leadership and votes from the employee community. How scary is that!

Be warned:

  • Gaming occurs when people want to climb the leaderboard and cheat – or at least don’t play within the spirit of the game – to get to the top. This is a absolutely hideous yet interesting problem for me in communities. On one hand I want to spank them silly for pushing the envelope. Just wait until some smartypants has posted 3,459 times on YOUR site “thanks for the information, totally awesome dude” by using a bot and you have to hand remove each comment AND their 3459 points from their social scorecard.  Then tell me that violence doesn’t spring to mind! (note: today most community software has a spam removal system). On the other hand, “gamers” (in this sense, “almost cheaters”) are teaching you what you need to clarify, to correct and remove from the “game”. I also have a soft spot for them -they are the true entrepreneurs and pioneers of social behaviour online. The little monkeys. :p
  • The Not Fair Brigade are always around. They will whinge, resign and sue if they don’t get their points that they deserve. Or so they think. Be aware: every member of an online community turns into a lawyer, is married to a lawyer or has a dad that is a lawyer if you don’t give them what they demand when it comes to badges, points or titles. Who knew there were that many lawyers interested in gaming points around *end sarcasm*. This is particularly important if you use the contribution karma points to reward with real world prizes e.g. a trip to Tahiti or dinner with the CEO. Heh the last could be for punishment.

That reminds me: tell HR and Legal what you are doing. Don’t stop because they have a fit, but keep them informed. Don’t be misled by the simplicity of these systems. They may well overturn the industrial revolution into a employee revolution. I kid you not.

Gamification: Economies of Social Scorecards

Balancing the economy is the hardest thing, as economies dictate behaviours. In one game, we had “he who has the most gold” leaderboard. Suddenly there is no marketplace. In order to save gold people weren’t spending it. If they weren’t spending it, they weren’t buying which means others couldn’t go up the list. Good virtual goods became insanely cheap. The economy crashed. Annoyed customers everywhere. So we implemented a “he who is most generous with gold” leaderboard. Now they were donating gold everywhere. Another set of problems. I failed Economics at High School but more than made up for it trying to work with Devs to get this sort of behavioural economy working right. I really should resit that school exam. Heh.

Trust and Social Scorecards

What’s in it for the User or Member? They get to show off their elite skills in whatever your niche network is about. Social standing, trust, reputation and leadership. And just plain cool. Who doesn’t want to show off their gold star or camel stamp to mum? Well trolls (bad boys) don’t. But you manage them in other ways. Conforming to social rules is something that humans ache to do – it’s what defines community-  and badges and scorecards tell them in much clearer ways than ‘etiquette statements’ or ‘social media staff guidelines’ ever can how to behave.

Over time we gain “points” – usually unspoken but now declared through badges and measurable behaviour – and that gains us trust and reputation.

What’s in it for the employer (or community manager if your members are “employees”)? Reward behaviours. Remind people of good acts by having a monthly “double your points” game if they greet a newcomer, or upload something or whatever you want to be highlighted that month. When it comes to stick and carrot, too many companies have big big sticks and the tiny carrot is “well you’ve got a job and a paycheck”.  Better companies had stock options dependent on general overall company behaviours. But badges, points and titles start to allow you to fine tune rewards for results. Salesmen have worked with these reward systems forever. But rarely do admin and general staff get to play. Now they can. Yay!

Have a look at these case studies

Have a look at these content management social systems using reputation badges etc – List of Karma Points

If Twitter is working with Foursquare, why can’t Yammer and other social enterprise communication tools play with badges and points? If we give points to customers for loyalty and service in ecommerce systems why can’t we reward employees for the same behaviours? Maybe the golden handcuffs become karma handcuffs in the future. As in “I can’t resign, I have too many karma points invested in this company”. Oh stop laughing, it’s possible! :D

What do you think? If your company gave you badges and points (and maybe real world bonuses attached) would you sign up for a social scorecard at the office? Or would you sneer, beat up and take the lunch money of those that do want to play the work game?

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