Friday, April 22, 2011

Checking Boxes

Do you love checking things off your to do list? Do you like looking at a status bar and seeing it full?
I know I love checking things off, and I like the look of a full status bars (in particular ones that actually mean something is done, unlike most installation status bars). These are a simple actions and images but there are some complex physiological things going on when you check a box, or fill up a status bar.
This deep psychological drive to see completion is an example of one of the methods used in the video gaming community to communicate achievement. Operate conditioning is another method used in games to reward participants. Known as the “Skinner box technique” after the scientist who first identified; it is basically the process of random rewards triggered by a designated action.
These are some of the methods used to keep players playing video games. Why I am talking about video games in a leadership blog? This whole arena of action reinforcement is very similar to the processes preached in most positive reinforcement leadership books (i.e. thanks you notes, clear work queues, public recognition).
Gaming companies spend millions on finding ways to make games engaging. Many of these processes can be applied to professional and personal motivation. This process of applying game play reinforcement to life is commonly known as “Gamification”. We as leaders should keep an eye on this and take advantage of the investment from gaming companies in this arena.

Some examples of how we might apply this?
A 5% chance that we give a reward after closing a ticket.
A status bar on the top of our work queue “Progress towards closing all April requests”
After doing 1000 project hours you level up to a level 2 project resources and get a little certificate.

It’s hard to find a way to do this that is not overly “hokey” and we have to be careful not to promote one certain type or area of work over another.
Think about it. Brainstorm and share your thoughts. Is this real or just the start of yet another hype curve?

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