I was having a conversation recently with a friend about the gamification of work. We were trying to discover what made a game so compelling. Was it the storyline interesting features of the map or fast-paced action?
Ultimately we ruled out many of these features as a player can become desensitized or interesting mechanics can become routine. We instead discovered that the quick feedback loops and detailed tracking of games were the main elements which made them so compelling.
My favorite genre of game is an RTS which stands for real-time strategy. These type of games include many metrics that help the player to understand the current situation and to make decisions based on that information. Immediately a player can judge his or her standing and take action. Compare this the workplace where metrics are often not measured and feedback is slow or non-existent.
Games, by contrast, are effective at giving us what we crave as individuals. We seek recognition, praise and a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, many of these are not found in the workplaces of today.
An interesting and shocking point that came up in our conversation is that some of the best and brightest individuals of society are taken from us because of video games. These individuals who could go on to do great things are often stuck trading hours for virtual or in-game content. These individuals who have focus, ambition, and skill which remain misdirected.
Some companies have begun to implement number tracking and analytics in the workplace. However many of these companies have faced a backlash of being too number driven and removing the focus from people. The ideal workplace is one that can combine both the human and the analytical elements. If both can be achieved it may be possible to bring some of the best elements of the virtual world into the physical world.
Companies that are able to capitalize on new applications of this idea will be able to achieve higher rates of output from employees with less burnout. Employees will be able to benefit from both the competitive and cooperative spirit that is often found in video games. This will help teams achieve at their highest levels.
There are likely companies who are attempting to implement this way of thinking and workplace structure. Companies that implement immediate feedback from teams and leaders will be able to quickly iterate and overcome roadblocks. Public recognition within these teams will also help build cohesion and cooperation.
Some organizations may currently struggle because would be high performers may be hesitant to share their skills or work with the team. This fear may be a result of concern regarding promotion or credit taking. Instead, if this work was public where credit could be proportionally assigned individuals could work freely without fear and teams could benefit from the support they need.
Teams will move forward together faster when individuals are able to stop holding back talent. They will do this when recognition is freely given.
If you have an experience similar to what I described in this article please leave a comment below or reach out to me. I'd love to talk with you and hear your insights.
Also, check out: How to Make Work More Enjoyable