Tag Archive gamification

ByDarren B

Business Process Gamification

Journey or Dead End?

It’s fortuitous that timing would be such for this particular installment – the fifth in a series (including an introduction) examining the four different gamification roads organizations are journeying down.  I have lived the good, the bad and the ugly regarding gamification in the workplace and my unique perspective is discussed in the first installment.

We categorized the first three roads as Learning Event Gamification, Native Application Gamification, and Destination Gamification.  As anything, they each have some pluses and minuses (and a complete buying guide summary is forthcoming!). It really began as the need to answer this question became abundantly clear to me:

What workplace gamification strategies exist today and which one(s) – if any – lead to the promised benefit of sustained and natural employee engagement?

Sustained and Natural

Did you catch those qualifiers?  Those two words really summarize this entire analysis of different workplace gamification approaches.  Both of these are required if a workplace gamification journey will be successful.  If not sustained, the effort is simply a short-lived campaign.  If not natural, your employees see nothing more than a gimmick.  Lacking both is truly a disaster!

Yet, we have documented how Learning Event, Native Application and Destination Gamification each fail to deliver on one or both of these essential qualities.  They are simply not “built” to accomplish these critical success factors due to various shortcomings, most of which have been addressed in each of the preceding posts.

This is where Business Process Gamification sets itself apart.  First and foremost, this road dissects the actual business process by taking into account both the technology and the personas involved.  The key difference with this road is that the “digital motivation layer” is shaped to the unique technologies and personas participating in the business process…not the other way around.

Technologies and Personas

Most likely, the core technologies supporting your business processes are already set.  It may be one platform, most likely several, and there might even be some non-digital aspects to throw into the mix.  The last thing employees (especially millennials) want to do is have more complexity added to their effective execution of any process.  In fact, the odds are that they are already not fully utilizing the platforms that already exist.  Sound familiar? Any CIOs out there concerned about platform adoption?

Business Process Gamification leverages what is already in place.  Whatever the mechanic – game, social, reputation, or any other type – these are integrated/embedded natively in the actual platform(s)/application(s) that currently support the business process.  Employees experience these much like they would in the Native Application approach, but with the objective of improving your business process (instead of improving the platform vendor’s adoption).

So which mechanics are embedded?  That’s dictated by the behavioral program design that was developed according to the various personas that participate in the process.  Who is the audience?  What makes them tick?  What makes them feel success, accomplishment and connection (to each other, and the company)?  And oh by the way, there’s not just one answer to these questions as one persona might have several derivatives…and there’s never just one persona.

Let’s consider just one, fairly popular use case for gamification – sales performance.  Within that application, the salesperson is obviously the primary audience to motivate and engage.  Assuming some stereotypical traits for that persona is fairly easy, right?  We all know what makes them tick.  They like competition and are motivated by money…easy.  Done!

Stop there and you have just sealed the fate for a failed gamification effort.  It’s just not that simple, even for one of the most straightforward use cases (a failure in both Native Application Gamification and Destination Gamification).  Everything after “assuming” and “stereotypical” will send the effort into the ditch quickly.  While there might be (probably are) two or three over-arching traits that can quickly be pinned on the target audience, they’ll usually only resonate with 80% of the audience.  You’ll have to dig deeper to capture the rest.

For sales performance, we might accurately target more than 80% with money and competition, but what about peer recognition, social collaboration, peer assistance, company/strategic contribution, etc.  These are all very real considerations for motivating a “stereotypical salesperson.”  Whatever your target audience, they are human beings (yes, even salespeople!) with nuanced feelings on what drives them.  Age, place in life, place in career, corporate culture, personal goals, group goals, job goals, company goals, etc. etc. all contribute to the nuance…and change over time.

And that’s just the salesperson – the primary target persona in our example.  Depending on your specific sales performance situation and its size and complexity, there are likely other personas that need to be profiled and incorporated.  Distinguishing inside verses outside sales as well as customer support and channel sales will all garner different digital motivation mechanics, thus evolving the “game” and rendering different manifestations to participants.

If we are really considering the business process and targeting it for improvement in speed and efficiency, multiple internal constituencies play a part and have a role.  In fact, you’ll likely be considering and incorporating external constituencies as well, such as agents or partners.

Another quick example: customer service.  The audience could easily consist of (1) customer service agents – whose job it is to resolve problems,  (2) customers – who just want a fast answer, (3) employees – whose job ISN’T to resolve problems but wouldn’t it be great it they were a vested part of the process, (4) partners – having particular brand or product expertise, (5) non-employees – power users completely external to your organization but potentially most credible in resolving problems (at no cost to you!).  One use case.  Five personas, each with potential derivatives.

Just as all of these personas play a part in the speed and efficiency of your business process, so will each persona require at least some components and/or mechanics to be included in the gamification design on their behalf.

And so we come full circle back to the technology.  As these other personas are incorporated, so will other platforms need to be integrated into the gamification program.  A sales performance program may start with one platform (CRM) and one persona with a few derivatives .  However, success will demand the eventual incorporation of other personas (internal and external) and the platforms that support them (e.g. Social Collaboration, LMS, “home-grown” system(s), etc.).


There are currently four manifestations of gamification in the workplace today.  With the cumulative data that’s been presented in this series, I have attempted to define each one while qualifying their ability to provide sustained and natural employee engagement.  As a result, my conclusion statement would be:

Business Process Gamification is the only approach to gamification that is capable of providing sustained and natural employee engagement.

It is my experiential testimony that the Business Process Gamification road is the only path to success for an organization pursuing some kind of digital motivation strategy.  With one caveat…

Notice the”capable” qualifier?  While the Business Process Gamification road can deliver incredible (and I do mean incredible) results, it is one that is paved with lots of disappointment and even failure.  It’s not simple.  Like anything delivering a strong ROI, it requires effort.

Some say it’s not worth it, and that might be true.  In the sense that the cost for entry (both dollars and resource) might be out of reach for the particular audience size and/or the criticality of the business process itself.  In other words, given the effort to “do gamification right,” there may be situations that simply don’t justify the up-front costs.

Then again, if sustained and natural digital motivation can significantly improve the execution of one critical business process while not only leveraging, but driving near-complete adoption on pre-existing platforms, isn’t it a strategy worth pursuing – whatever the initial cost?

[If this provoked some thought, please share and then like.]