Business processes are fundamentally boring right?

Crunching through that Excel spreadsheet, entering data into the CRM system, logging invoices and purchases into the accounting system. Things that have to be done – usually by humans – that can prove difficult to keep people engaged and motivated in. These processes are almost always designed with efficiency in mind – lowering cost, saving time, cutting out steps – they assume that people ‘will do’ rather than encourage them to ‘want to do’…

So, we try to ‘jazz’ them up by designing some fun into them and the easiest thing to do is to offer some extrinsic reward (cash, sweets, cinema tickets etc.) But we know in our hearts that these rewards have a very short shelf life and that we will need to increase or replace them pretty quickly.

An alternative is to try this new ‘gamification’ concept. Apparently you can take the elements of games and apply them to business processes to make them fun and engaging – learning from what the games industry has perfected over the last forty odd years! For example; think typing is boring? Add some rules and a purpose (game elements) and suddenly you have Scrabble which is far from boring and something that keeps people engaged for hours.

So the concept is good and there are lots of game elements that can be used (missions, unlocks, challenges, power-ups, clans, world, Easter eggs etc.)

But why when we look around has imagination and creativity escaped us and lots that we see that has been ‘jazzed up’ with gamification appears just to be limited to Points, Badges and Leaderboards (PBL)??

Now I’m certainly not saying that PBL is bad or that it does not have a place but, if those elements have simply been ‘thrown’ into the mix because they are maybe the easier ones to use then that is a poor basis for their use.

In the same way that many games launched into the market simply fail because they are not engaging enough, then gamification applied to business process can suffer the same fate. When the designer decides to populate with features rather than understanding how he/she wants the user to feel, then they are on the horse backwards.

Great gamification starts by developing an understanding of the things that drive and motivate us and by knowing how individual game elements make us feel. Only by knowing what feelings or emotions we want our users (players) to experience can we determine the best set of game elements to use.

Let’s dispel the Myth that gamification is limited to PBL. The smart approach is to first fully understand the outcome that you are striving for and then to focus on creating a compelling experience that is underpinned by the right design (game) elements.