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Gamification For Better Project Management

by Monica Wells, BizDB  business-controlIt's safe to say that enterprise gamification is one of those increasingly popular trends for management that are simply bound to explode in the next few years. Great project management is all about fostering worker engagement and motivation – and what better way to this than through specifically designed games? Gamification of everyday activities can also pave the way to building a creative and passionate team. Read on to find out how to get the most from gamification in project management:

Some Great Advantages

First things first, what exactly is gamification? It's nothing else than an application of game dynamics into a non-gaming context, such project development. Gamification works to foster employee engagement by granting rewards and recognition through scoreboards, leaderboards and other game props. Using points, levels and badges, companies appeal to the competitive nature of human beings and provide a great incentive for action. Gamification essentially helps to keep workers motivated and inspires them to achieve the best end results possible. Enterprise gamification is not just another fleeting fashion – by now, it can be traced in the mainstream of corporate management style, proving to be a technique that generates palpable results. In general, managers who look into gamification can always expect short-term benefits. In a long-term time frame, however, they need to be more careful and apply game systems that have been designed for a specific purpose, for example to deal with a determined problem the team suffers from.

Contexts for Gamification

Before managers get their hands on gamification, they should first answer the following question: What are the short-term and long-term goals I'm going to accomplish with this game? Some typical features of productive project teams are easy collaboration, efficient teamwork, enthusiasm, motivation and active participation. Common challenges in project management include delivering projects within set deadlines, keeping the project quality high, working efficiently under stress and managing the behavior of employees. Enterprise gamification can help managers to deal with some of those challenges, provided the game mechanics suit very well the context – gamification can be applied to many activities, starting with performance improvement and collaboration to resource management and on-time delivery. In general, the strategies involved will always depend on the aspect of project management we'd like to improve.

Gamification Strategies

Gamification is based on game mechanics, but what are those? We all play games – they're about gaining points, collaborating, reaching new levels, standing up to challenges, checking our position on leader boards and scoreboards or receiving badges. All this is not only fun, but also rewarding – on the whole, inspiring the project team to outsmart the competition. In order to get the most from gamification in professional context, it's best to employ game designers, who provide frameworks that ensure the efficiency of gamification. This is more important than it seems – badly designed games can have an opposite effect on the team and lead to serious conflicts between team members. In 2012, Gartner showed that by 2014 over 80% of gamified processes will be doomed – mainly due to reasons like poor design or improper rules. (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2251015) Even if it's just a game, managers should treat it seriously – if conducted in an improper manner, it can negatively affect team dynamics. In order to yield positive results, enterprise gamification requires a transparent process of progress tracking, combined with the recognition of particularly talented employees, as well as providing real-time feedback. If you'd like to see how a professionally developed gamification framework looks like, check this one created by Yu-Kai Chou called Octalysis.

Enterprise Gamification – Pros and Cons

Making everyday activities into a game has many pros: boring, repetitive tasks gain a renewed interest through the recreational context, and workers can find themselves more motivated than ever in standing up to various challenges. Gamification helps to recognize the team's accomplishments and then share them with other managers, CEOs and shareholders. Moreover, gamification allows to simulate situations that happen rarely, preparing workers to respond accurately in different circumstances. Finally, gamification helps the team to focus on their goal, increase their productivity, improve their performance and meet deadlines on a timely basis. Games usually involve a degree of risk, and enterprise gamification is no exception. Badly conducted gamification can lead to member alienation, tension among the group members, feeling of injustice and lack of motivation. Another important thing is the cognitive value of gamification – while usually it helps to focus on set goals, sometimes the cognitive load can become too much and, instead of being beneficial, the game can turn into a nuisance and detract from learning. All things considered, gamification can still provide an interesting way to spice up the usual activities of a project team, helping it to channel the new found enthusiasm and passion towards achieving higher industry standards, improving performance and fostering team collaboration.   Monica Wells Monica Wells of BizDB is an accomplished businesswoman who masterminded a couple of education and business projects. With a strong background in Education and Internet Science combined with IT expertise she regularly give seminars on maximizing the potential of the World Wide Web and technology for professional development.    

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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