“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

What follows is one of my post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

“Social”, in an “inside-the-firewall” perspective, is often related to sharing information, sharing knowledge, as well as creating a greater degree of transparency. This includes, often, having a personal profile, filled with your skills and work-experiences, along with, maybe, something about your personal interests, etc. This is all so that others can see who knows what and can make contact with you if they feel that you know more about something than they do.

I am a great advocate of transparency…why not “advertise” what you know? Others can benefit from it. That’s great thing about Social – it offers a great opportunity to learn from others while at the same time allowing others to learn from you.

Also having the ability to, electronically, shout out loud, (to no-one in particular), “I have a problem with xyz. Can anyone help me?”, and then get a response from an answer from a colleague, who is not necessarily located in the same office/building/country, is valuable. Everyone helping everyone else.

Take this one step further, and introduce some “gamification”. Let people earn points, or badges depending on their involvement in helping resolve problems, or on how other people grade the persons work (documents, or whitepapers, that they have edited, stored in a content management system). Then we let “the people” decide the value the individuals bring to the table.

To further encourage these individuals, provide a Leader board that is available for everyone to see. This way it is obvious to all who the “rock star of the month” is, and provides a way to drive others to contribute, to earn those points, and raise their status.

It sounds like an excellent way to get involvement and as a way of sharing knowledge.

But what happens when you have those people who are just as smart as all the “rock stars”, who have oodles of knowledge and experience, and who do their job extremely well, but are just not the outgoing type. They’d much rather operate away from the glare of the spotlights.

Should these people be “judged” in comparison to the more “I am my Ego” types? Should these people feel awkward or even embarrassed because they are listed as number 437 on the Leader board? It is not similar to the adolescent way teenagers would be judged whether they are “Cool”, or not depending on their popularity.

Even the ability, in many systems, to “Like” specific content can be used for “evil”. On the one hand, it allows you to use it as a way of “bookmarking” (for yourself) content you found valuable. On the other hand, if it’s made public that a particular piece of content is very much “Liked”, what does that say about the other material (and the authors) present?

Really “Gamification” should not have a place inside the firewall.

I know that it has existed years before it was even called “gamification” (in the form of the ‘employee of the month’ or similar internal processes in place), but what is the real value in creating an artificial source of motivation? Shouldn’t the motivation be a real one?

As I mentioned, I think that being transparent is a great way of sharing knowledge. And knowledge sharing is a great way to learn. It’s when that sharing of knowledge is compulsory, in an aggressive, chest-beating kind-of-a-way, is what I disagree with.

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