Book Review: For The Win (How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business)

60-word Summary:

Gamification of learning and development has been en vogue for several years, yet so few organizations do it well. For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business goes beyond points, badges and leaderboards and offers a basic overview on how games work, why games work and some thoughts on how to combine game elements to achieve extraordinary results.

The Details:

Bright Spots:

The length: Weighing in at 126 pages, this book can be read from cover to cover in a couple of sittings (or a couple of cross-country flights!).

The examples: The authors obviously know their stuff and offer a variety of examples to ignite your imagination in how to transfer successful examples of gamified business practices to your own context. Equally important, the authors offer some powerful examples of gamification gone awry. When it comes to gamification, what not to do is as essential as what you’re thinking of actually doing.

The elements: Beyond points, badges and leaderboards, the authors offer an overview of game elements that too many attempts at gamification are missing. Dynamics (like emotions and progression), mechanics (like randomness and feedback) and components (such as boss fights and quests!) are all key pieces to any successful gamification effort.

Room For Improvement:

I’m not sure that I have too much critical to say about this book. As a learning and development professional, I would have loved to have seen more specific examples of gamification in the learning and development space. The wide variety of examples, however, offers plenty of ideas that are easily transferable to training programs.

Who Should Buy It:

I bought this book because I had begun to take a Coursera MOOC on gamification that was being taught by one of the authors and he recommended this book as a course text. I didn’t make it past Week 2 of the course (I’m just not into trying to learn new concepts by watching a series of 5-10 minute video lectures), but I’ve learned a lot from this book.

For The Win is perfect for someone who is either new to the concept of gamification or someone who is familiar with the concept but just doesn’t know where to start. It’s also ideal for training designers who have been trying to “gamify” their learning experiences with points or badges or leaderboards but just feel like there’s supposed to be more to a gamified experience (there is).

Honestly, this book isn’t just intended for training professionals. If  you’re someone in a position of management – either people management or process management – and you’re looking to truly understand a way to engage and motivate people using gaming principles, this book can offer a lot of ideas.

The Exciting Conclusion: What happens when new employee orientation becomes a game?

A week ago, I wrote about a new and improved orientation program for incoming employees at my organization. The response to that post was unexpected, and amazing. Thank you to everyone who commented on the post or sent me an email or a LinkedIn message to wish me luck with the program and to hear more about how it turned out.

I’m happy to share our experience from our first session in two parts.   Continue reading

A New Spin on Peer Feedback Forms

feedback

Greetings from sunny Uganda! I’m on assignment this week in Kampala, where it’s Day 2 of a 3-day train-the-trainer program.

There will be a lot of practice facilitation and peer feedback today. Days like this can grow long and monotonous, with presentation after presentation, and the peer feedback process can grow stale and feel drawn-out after the first 5 or 6 presentations.

Recently, a colleague suggested I alter our peer feedback form. For this suggestion, I think he’s a genius.   Continue reading

Cool Study Tool: A Brief Review of Quizlet

I was working with a team last week to push forward a sales training program that I was helping them develop. At one point, a sales team member asked: Have you ever used Quizlet?

No, I hadn’t.

She pulled out her phone and showed me how she quickly created a series of flashcards to help her study terminology she’d need in order to sound intelligent and informed during her sales calls.

quizlet-3

The flashcards were basic – nothing flashy – but they could be used by someone sitting in front of a computer (via the desktop version) or someone who was on the road (via the free app). I was intrigued.   Continue reading

One Way to Keep an Audience Engaged when Presenting Data

Eye Popping 2

I find data and numbers and charts and graphs interesting. To an extent. But I can’t sit through 30 minutes of data being presented in a dry format. I heard similar comments from a number of co-workers after walking out of our monthly staff meetings.

One person suggested projecting slides so that we could see the data being discussed. We tried that, but the slides were often crammed too full with information and were hard to follow.

Yesterday, I reached deep down into my bag of tricks to see if we could come up with a way to keep people engaged with the statistical review during our monthly all-staff meetings. It seemed to work.  Continue reading

Case Study: Covering 18 Topics in 45 Minutes

The Challenge: SightLife, the eye bank for which I work, is dedicated to eliminating corneal blindness within our lifetime. In order to do this in India, there will need to be 100,000 corneas available for transplant every year (last year there were approximately 25,000 corneas available for transplant). It’s a big goal, and in theory, the eye banks of India are aligned with this goal.

But what does rapidly growing in order to help support 100,000 transplants actually mean? What will it take to actually get there? What policies, procedures and practices need to be in place? There’s a lot that will need to happen in order to move this from a big idea to a concrete reality.

Each year, we hold a meeting with eye banks in India to discuss these challenges. There are so many areas to focus on that we normally only pick one or two. The problem with this is that some eye banks aren’t ready for the topics we pick, some eye banks are in the midst of dealing with the topics we pick, and some eye banks have already found some solutions and ways to address the areas we focus on.

The other challenge is that this meeting is only one day long, and there are many other items we need to accomplish in addition to educational and professional development sessions.

This year we were left grappling with a question: how could we address everyone’s learning needs, bring all of the issues and challenges we’ll face in order to reach 100,000 transplants per year (we identified up to 18 key challenges, although there are probably more) and do all of this within a 45 minute block of time?

The Solution: Taking inspiration from The Game of Life, Monopoly and a few other family board games, our L&D team set out to create a game Continue reading

A Lesson in Gamification from Car2Go

I was in a hurry to get home the other day and the bus wasn’t going to get me there in time, so I hopped in a Car2Go (if you’re not familiar with Car2Go, it’s a pretty ingenious way to get around town without having to own your own car; check it out here).

As I sped home in the little Smart Car, I noticed what seemed like a warning light. I pressed on the touch screen display and up popped a message, something along these lines: “you need to drive better.” Apparently I wasn’t driving in a very fuel efficient manner. Then, on the touch screen display, this image popped up:

Gamification 1

My initial thought was: What the hell? I’m just trying to get home. It’s rush hour. I’m driving in city traffic. Seattle is full of hills. And drivers who don’t go when a light turns green (nor do they honk). How am I supposed to drive in a more fuel efficient manner?

And then I took a closer look. Those trees did look pretty sad. And who wants a monitor displaying grey rain clouds? And what were those numbers? What was the highest score? 50? 100? Guess there’s only one way to find out. So I started pressing a little lighter on the gas pedal when I accelerated. When I was cruising I stopped pressing the gas pedal when I was going down a hill. I eased into traffic stoppages and stop lights a little more gently.

I noticed that the forest started looking a bit healthier. A cloud even went away. And those clouds that remained had turned white. Who doesn’t like a few white, puffy clouds in the sky?

Gamification 2

What lessons can learning & development professionals take from this?

As I drove, there were no detailed instructions. There was no carrot nor was there a stick. Nobody at Car2Go would ever yell at me (nor would they ever reward me) for my driving habits. There was barely any message given to me at all, yet my fuel efficient driving apparently improved. It tapped into my curiosity (hmmmm, how do I get these numbers to go up? How do I make the trees get bigger? Wait, the clouds turn different colors? And if my score gets high enough, the clouds go away? Well then, what happens if I ease off the gas pedal a little more? What happens if I ease into slowing down and stopping a bit more?). It tapped into my competitive nature (just how high can I get those numbers?). It tapped into my playful nature (all right, there are some electronic images of trees… how can I get them bigger and healthier?).

Whether elearning or in-person, do we need detailed instructions? Is there a way to tap into our learners’ inner curiosity? Their innate sense of play and competitiveness? Is there a more fun and simple way to motivate our learners?

If the car sharing service Car2Go can do it, why can’t instructional designers and learning and development professionals?