Updated: Sep 20
Learning and adopting a new skillset is a challenge. Add the complexity of a project to the mix, and it will all be daunting to any team. Agile Gamification perfectly fits this scenario. Gamification is the use of game mechanics to shorten the learning curve and increase success in teaching desired behaviors. Agile gamification uses games to teach the agile mindset. This is especially true in the workplace where gamification is revolutionizing team building and being used by businesses for employee development and to increase productivity and effectiveness. A concept that could seem like a gimmick has been proven to yield visible results. Did you know that 61% of surveyed CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work. More than half of these gameful executives say they play during work in order “to feel more productive”, according to DigitalChalk.
Agile gamification in the workplace utilizes game-style thinking and strategy in non-game contexts with the aim of engaging users in problem-solving in order to induce desired behaviors. Essentially this is also exactly what Agile coaching is – supporting teams to drive specific behaviors that contribute towards more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships. With the similarities between the two, Agile gamification has proven to be a natural evolution, combining all of the benefits of gamification such as game mechanics and rewards, but in an Agile software development setting. I’ve been known to create games on the spot in attempt to re-adjust team behavior. I found that the earlier games are introduced the faster a team gets to synergizing. The bond is created much earlier in the form stages of the team.
Defining a purpose:
The focus when I design a game for a team is not points or badges, it has a defining purpose. When designing a game for a team, think of where they need help, you can read more of Designing Game Based Learning to Improve Employee Work Life featured on Learning Solutions Magazine here. Target their needs and desires to get a response or adjust behavior. As an example, I am sure everyone by now has used the ball game where students make a circle and have to pass a sack of balls in a certain time. I take this game and change it up by making it a single ball. In addition, I want the class to understand that change is part of their every day, so I change the rules of the game as the game is played. Change happens every day of our lives, yet it is very difficult for some. If you expect something to change, it will be that much easier to accept later on.
With the introduction of agile gamification and game based learning your organization not only gets to reap the benefits of cost effective training, it will reap the benefits of continuous reinforcement of positive behaviors. You see, when you introduce specific game based learning or gamification at specific intervals as I do, the consistent application of this game play reinforces the skills and positive behaviors you want to teach.
These gamification techniques need not be hours long. If designed correctly, they should be under 15 minutes. I find a five minute game to be enough to help challenge your employees, and act as a catalyst for improved creativity, performance, and motivation. There are various examples of gamified applications in enterprises, including simulations for training purposes and scenario planning. As an example, Google has an internal gamified program to help employees lower travel costs. Zichermann, author of The Gamification Revolution and chair of GSummit believes games can be a great way to model the future by showing relationships and interdependency between variables. Kevin Werbach, associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says agile "Gamification can activate a variety of psychological triggers that motivate employees, including the desire for mastery, autonomy, meaning, social comparison, and completion". Employees want to know someone is paying attention to them, what better way to show them and keep them motivated.
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