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Gamification in Innovation

23 05 2012

A few months ago I wrote a post on the promise of Gamification in the Enterprise. You can read the whole piece but as a recap, here are some of the more salient points:

1) Gamification in the enterprise is not about trivializing business processes or activities, but rather about embracing a design methodology that taps into an inherent “addiction” inside all of us to the engagement mechanics and format of  “good games”

2) Games surround us everywhere, if we choose to see them as such. Just because we don’t envision the business (and other) systems around us as games; just because we don’t design them as games; doesn’t mean they’re any less of a game – it just makes them bad games that no-one wants to play.

3) The ultimate expression of engagement is the human feeling of enjoyment – where we actively derive pleasure from engaging in a specific activity. What if we could bring that level of engagement into a business process, like Innovation for example, that would have people actively choosing to give up their free time to create new value for the company?

As in the past, a company’s Innovation process has become the best testing ground for new ways to engage the broader crowd – not least of which the history of corporate innovation becoming ever more successful with the increasing size of the crowd they’re able to tap into.  Gamification is no different – and already companies like Citi, Cisco, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt and others have embraced Gamification as a way to redesign systems to drive a new level of engagement within their crowds.

For example – at Citi, we were able to engage more than 263,000 employees around the world in 97 countries in a collaborative innovation challenge that incorporated Gamification techniques to drive a unique process that collected over 2,300 raw ideas, developed and refined 10 of those into full on business cases with accompanying video pitches, and then further refined those into 4 top quality concepts complete with prototypes that were pitched in front of Citi’s top 5 executives to be funded for development.  The amount of collaborative builds was incredible – with each of the top ideas all-receiving input from multiple business units and geographies – something previously unheard of at Citi. And the most amazing part of all? There were zero incentives used to drive that high level of engagement  beyond the gamified design of the challenge enabled by the Spigit tool.  (You can read more about the Citi Ideas Global Challenge here)

But Gamification has impact in every part of the organization and has the potential to revolutionize the way we do business as a whole.  For example – another technique we pioneered here at Spigit is the use of Gameboards – which effectively change good old fashioned process charts like this:

Into this:

The game board approach not only conveys the same information as a process chart does – but also the critical engagement elements of story line, goal orientation, levels, emotions, and more. It enables us, as social strategists, to at any one point in time look at the game board and ask ourselves “Would I play this game”? – a engagement perspective that we never consider in normal design. Why would you ever do a process chart ever again?

As always, there is much more to this concept – but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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“Innovation in a Collaboration World” – the other side of the coin with #innochat on 28 Jan 2009 – 12pm EST

27 01 2010

Collaboration is, apparently,  “the new hot thing” in Innovation nowadays. Not that it’s all that new – but it certainly is hot. More than a passing trend, it’s surely just a concept whose time has finally come after years of flirting with the edges of corporate credibility.

Now, the drive toward a socialized business structure is firmly on course thanks to the penetration of Web2.0 technologies not just through business, but through our personal lives too – the net effect being a gradual cultural change towards accepting a universe where the exchange of information and knowledge in a seamless, timeless, and social manner is quickly becoming “the way it is”.

Companies have, this time, been quick to jump on board as visible value is finally being derived from social collaborative initiatives – and corporate innovation processes have been at the forefront of those driving that value. As a result, collaboration practices are now considered “de rigeur” for any innovation program looking to be taken seriously by corporate executives and shareholders alike.

But is it being “all it can be?” – to paraphrase the old US Army slogan?

That’s the general theme of this week’s #INNOCHAT (Thurs, 28 January at 12PM EST) – when it tackles the second part of a massive 2-part discussion on “Collaborative Innovation” with #smchat (Weds 1PM EST) which I’ve been asked to moderate.

On the Wednesday, we’ll have discussed the social aspects of collaborative innovation with #smchat. As expert consultants and practitioners in Innovation, #INNOCHAT team participants are, however, the better placed to delve into the process side of the Collaborative Innovation discussion.

You see, whilst collaboration may well be the “new hot thing”, but in most companies, its use is still very limited – even within innovation functions – where it can be most commonly found on either “end” of the innovation process. So we’ll be exploring and uncovering the how, where, and why collaboration can be used at each stage of a high level idealized innovation process, namely:

1)   Discovering and Framing the Problem

2)   Collecting Ideas and Solutions

3)   Building ideas into mature concepts

4)   Developing the new product

5)   Marketing/Selling/Executing and expanding a new Product/Process/Concept

At each stage of the process, I’ll be asking participants to discuss how they’ve seen collaboration work at each stage – what are the business models for its use? What are the pitfalls to watch out for? What are the noteworthy solutions and companies out there? And most importantly – what are the new rules for success in this new collaborative innovation world?

Have more questions / issues you’d like to see addressed? Add them below in the comments section and I’ll add them to the agenda!

As with #smchat’s conversation, there’s a LOT to cover in the 90 minutes allocated to this discussion, and the conversation is typically fast and furious in order to get through as much as possible.

However, if you’re unable to take part in the synchronized chat, please take advantage of the various tools available to download a transcript (I use the built in service on (http://www.wthashtag.com/innochat usually) and then continue on the conversation with the other participants throughout the week!





“Collaboration in an Innovation World” – setting the stage for a landmark #smchat on 27 Jan 2009 – 1pm EST

26 01 2010

Collaboration and Business have long been interesting bed fellows, ever flirting with each other, but rarely embracing each other.

For business, collaboration has been an attractive mistress, full of allure and promise, but always just out of reach – never delivering on the early promise shown.

For Collaboration, Business is the bad boy with a leather jacket on a Harley – knowing that great things could be achieved if only business wasn’t so selfishly focused on personal profit.

Although the above is probably not the best analogy I’ve ever come up with, it holds more than a nugget of truth in it. After all, businesses have been toying with collaborative processes and technologies for quite some time now. Globalization and the pervasiveness of web 2.0 tools have accelerated this interest further for most companies – and yet, rarely is this interest rewarded by real rewards.

Nowhere in the increasingly socialized business of today is this more evident than in Corporate Innovation programs – the other newfound darling of recent years. By combing the two, companies finally found a method by which to use the global knowledge base at its disposal to drive real corporate value in the form of improved product pipelines, powerful value chain partnerships, new business models, and other forms of competitive advantage – the lifeblood of any lasting corporate entity.

However – there’s a snag to this wonderful idealist concept.  It turns out there’s more to Collaboration than buying a tool, or putting a smart manager in charge of the initiative. It turns out that Collaboration, like any other process that relies on human interaction to succeed, is complicated.  It turns out, that Collaboration is simply not a cheap date – needing to be wined and dined, wooed, and convinced that Business is a truly a worthy mate, before deciding to intertwine her power with his… (to carry on my analogy a step or two too far probably..)

But just how does Business do that wooing? In other words, as business people – what are the ways in which we, can mobilize the global knowledge base to help us in our endeavor to drive corporate value?

This is the question we’re aiming to answer on this week’s #SMCHAT on Wednesday – part one of a two part intertwining of powers with #INNOCHAT that follows up on Thusday. As an “expert” on the discipline/art of Collaborative Innovation, I’ve been given the task of moderating both discussions this week.

As experts in the Social Media arena, contributors to #smchat are perfectly positioned to tackle the social implications of this collaborative conundrum. So here’s the list of themes I’ll be driving people along to – feel free to comment on them, or add further questions and areas for the group to tackle:

1)   We can Build it, but will they come? – There are two main problems that come up right at the beginning of any collaborative process – and innovation is no different: Who do we want to ask for help? And how do we ensure they agree to show up?

2)   Let’s look at the Tools: Assuming we know who to ask – what are the success criteria for a good collaborative innovation tool?

3)   Why should I? : Innovation is unique amongst collaborative initiatives in being most able to show a direct line between input, and valuable output. After all, the result of innovation initiatives is the creation of new value for a corporate entity – so why should audiences participate? There are some obvious benefits for employees to take part, but what about people external to the organization?  Companies have tried a variety of different incentive programs from outright cash rewards, to tangential rewards (e.g. gift vouchers), to virtual achievement badges, to absolutely nothing.  Is there a one-size fits all? Is it realistic to expect altruistic contribution from people with nothing to gain? And if you decide to give rewards – how much is appropriate?

4)   How much is enough? : Just how much collaboration is enough? Can you ever over-collaborate on an idea?  Is collaborating on an idea different to than collaborating on a more mature concept? Are there differing levels of collaboration required at different points in time?

As you can see, there’s rather a lot to cover in the 90 minutes allocated to this topic -and I’ll be aiming to get through as much as possible. If you’re unable to take part in the synchronized chat, please take advantage of the various tools available to download a transcript (I use the built in service on (http://www.wthashtag.com/smchat usually) and then continue on the conversation with the other participants throughout the week!

Then, for the other side of the coin – don’t forget that #INNOCHAT tackles Innovation in a Collaborative World” on Jan 28 at 12PM EST.  See you all there!





Tackling Collaborative Innovation – the #smchat and #innochat doubleheader

22 01 2010

I should’ve known better really – after, all it’s happened once before, so surely I should’ve spotted it coming a mile away when I  1) was dumb enough to make some suggestions on #innochat for future topics and then 2) found myself on the receiving end of a seemingly innocent telephone call with Chris Jones, Renee Hopkins and Gwen Ismael.

Like a steam liner heading slowly but surely into an iceberg in broad daylight, I found myself yet again somehow agreeing to moderate an upcoming session.

For those of you not in the know, #smchat and #innochat are two of the most vibrant and productive “Social Teams” on the Internet. Each virtual group, meets once a week to openly discuss, debate, and generally advance the thoughts and practices of their respective members in specific areas.

#Smchat meets on Wednesdays and is focused on all things Social Media and Collaboration related, and headed up by the excellent Chris Jones (@sourcePOV).

#Innochat, held on Thursdays, delves into the inner working of corporate innovation practices and theories and is led by the formidable duo of Renee Hopkins (@Renee_Innosight) and Gwen Ismael (@Gwen_Ismael).

Both groups are classic “Social Teams” by my definition – a loose “membership”, focused on achieving a specific purpose, massive in scale, floating leadership, and more – anyone can join by logging into twitter at the appropriate pre-scheduled time, follow the appropriate hash tag, and wait for the moderator to begin the discussion. A quick round of introductions later, and the fireworks begin, with the moderator working hard to try and keep the enthusiastic team members on course, on topic, and on target to drive a useful conclusion to the topic being addressed that week.

It can be a little overwhelming at first – especially as the exchanges are frequently fast and furious – with tons of excellent, valuable comments being traded to and fro at a rate of knots. It’s really a fantastic learning opportunity, and a great way to mingle, interact, and cross swords with some of the best minds on Social Media and Innovation.

I’ve been participating in these two teams for some time now – and have the dubious honor of having moderated one of the most vigorous discussions ever on “What in the World is Web 3.0?” – which pulled in experts from all over the internet to debate what the next iteration of the web would look like.

I knew thus, that it was only a matter of time before I would be cornered into a repeat act, and sure enough it wasn’t long before I found myself cornered like a rattlesnake in a fishbowl.

The two groups have been increasingly finding areas of overlap in recent months, as “Innovation” has increasingly embraced collaboration and socialized processes, and “Social Media” finds innovation as a prime corporate driver for internal adoption and use of its tools.

The inevitable crossing of the two subjects occurs at “Collaborative Innovation” and as Collaborative Innovation is “my thing” – I soon found myself on the receiving end of a flung gauntlet to moderate the first ever “doubleheader” between the two teams.

Both groups have vastly different viewpoints on this topic which is an increasingly relied upon driver of corporate organic growth and new value.  So I’ve decided to split up the two sessions in a way that would release the most amount of value from the accrued expert minds in attendance.

So clear your agendas, fire up the espresso machines and best make it a double – because on Weds, 27 January at 1PM EST, #SMCHAT will be looking at “Collaboration in an Innovation World – focusing on the social issues of how companies can drive participation, collaboration, and motivation for innovation efforts – after all, people are asked to contribute to the creation of new value for a company – but why would they? And how can you structure collaborative efforts to drive the desired results for a company?

Then, for the innovation junkies out there, we follow up on Thurs, 28 January at 12PM EST, when #INNOCHAT tackles “Innovation in a Collaborative World – now that collaboration and socialization of business processes is not only a reality, but a mandatory element of any innovation program worth its weight, how can we inject collaboration into the innovation process? What are the various business models for its use?

Full-on framing posts for each topic will show up during the week, so keep your eyes peeled, and use the comments below to request specific topics, areas, questions or ideas to be addressed!








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