Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"The 10 Commitments" of Successful Gamification Solutions

Gamification isn't for the light-hearted. 

Winners in the gamification arena are those that ruthlessly listen and adapt to their users' needs and desires. Are you up to the task? 


While the title of this blog is a bit tongue in cheek, the following are some of the most important ways you can perform a self-assessment about how serious you are about gamifying your product. See how you rate out of a possible score of 10. 

World-class gamification solutions require near 24 hour management and adjustments to user performance. 


Companies implement gamification solutions to get financial results but the best implementations do it by engaging with their users in a genuine, honest manner. To wit, the gamification experience must:

  • Be genuine to users in a way that matters to them
  • Generate delight for users
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Do things right more often than not
  • Be honest. Brutally honest. Inside and out.
In order to achieve these goals, I have put together "The 10 Commitments" of Successful Gamification Solutions.
I like the tablets, that's all.

  1 BE PREPARED TO BE BRUTALLY HONEST
  2 FAILURE IS THE ONLY OPTION
  3 IF IT WORKS, TRY SOMETHING ELSE
  4 DANCE, MONKEY, DANCE
  5 MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
  6 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
  7 WE DON'T DO THAT AROUND HERE; WE DO THIS
  8 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT... TO STAY IN BUSINESS
  9 MEASURE SUCCESS OR DIE
  10 HIRE SOMEONE TO MANAGE GAMIFICATION FULL TIME THAT GETS IT


Measure your company or product against these commandments. To how many of these can you say for sure that your company can (or does) commit? 

Following these commitments as guidelines can give you the edge on your competitors and help your staff or customers reach their potential and ideally help the bottom line. 

Here is more detail on each:

COMMITMENT #1: 
BE PREPARED TO BE BRUTALLY HONEST
Companies that want the most from their gamification results have to truly commit. This means honesty within the company around sharing what works and what didn't work as well as telling the users about the same things. It turns out that EVERYONE wants you to succeed, because THEY WANT TO HAVE FUN. Involve them in the solutions. 

COMMITMENT #2 FAILURE IS THE ONLY OPTION

You have to be ready to fail. A lot. Until you figure out what works for your staff or users, you're only guessing. Good game designers make lots of mistakes until they get it right. It's true! 

COMMITMENT #3 IF IT WORKS, TRY SOMETHING ELSE

When things work for a while, you have to be ready to shake things up and do something unexpected. Nothing succeeds like the same thing over and over, said no one. Just when you think you have it together, your audience gets tired of the same old routine. Get crazy. Do something unexpected.

COMMITMENT #4 DANCE, MONKEY, DANCE

You have to be ready to constantly delight your players. This may mean doing the same thing over and over, trying new things, returning to the old stuff that worked, or getting creative to come up with something new. People want to be entertained. That's your job, now. 

COMMITMENT #5 MANAGE EXPECTATIONS

You have to have proper expectations. Tell your users that things are going to change over time. Let them know you're going to make mistakes. Let them know that you're going to listen to their feedback. And don't promise anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that you aren't going to deliver. That's just bad expectation management. 

COMMITMENT #6 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Your strategy has to be attuned to your audience. What works for the "sales" department doesn't work with the "production team," for example. What works for users that like one style of "play," whether it's customization or competitiveness... doesn't necessarily work for another. Remember who you're trying to entertain.

COMMITMENT #7 
WE DON'T DO THAT AROUND HERE; WE DO THIS
Incentives and rewards have to mesh with the company culture. This is as custom as your company. You'll have to figure this out. Do the "little guys" get verbally rewarded? Do the "head honchos" get called out at meetings? Do the sales leaders get cash bonuses? Is your company committed to social change? Do your employees get comp time for doing community service? Whatever the culture is... reward people against that as a measuring stick.

Most importantly, only stick to positive affirmations of what you want. "We expect 75% completion of TPS Reports per day," for example, rather than "You will fail if you don't exceed 74% completion of TPS Reports per day." It's a mindset shift and your company needs to do it. Immediately.

COMMITMENT #8 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT... TO STAY IN BUSINESS

Your strategy must focus on end user objectives -- the desired behavior - and align with business processes. If your users aren't doing what you need them to do... it's time to get real with your objectives. Do you really know what you need them to do? Why are they doing something other than what you've created? Time to assess and adapt. See above commitments.

COMMITMENT #9 MEASURE SUCCESS OR DIE

Gamification provides a method to measure adoption and engagement. Avoidance of the gamification systems is be a clear signal that something is not working. If your metrics are showing that people are not motivated, it may be time to modify your gamification strategy. 

COMMITMENT #10 HIRE SOMEONE THAT GETS IT TO MANAGE GAMIFICATION FULL TIME 
Gamification is more like building and performing live maintenance on an MMO or a social game than any game you'd release in a fire and forget scenario.

Each of these above reasons are why you have to commit to be fully successful. 

RATE YOURSELF
Rate your organization against this as an X out of 10 scale. Think about whether you can get a higher score. Every company does NOT need to get 10/10 to be successful; these are merely guidelines. 

TALK BACK
What is your company doing? What is your score? Why isn't it higher? What did I forget? 

Your comments are welcomed below.

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