Improspectives

Improv skills lead to success

Improv and Gamification: Structure

with one comment

I’m taking the free Coursera course on Gamification, taught by Kevin Werbach from the Wharton School of Management. The book For the Win, which Werbach coauthored with Dan Hunter, mentions four basic elements of gamification:

  • Motivation
  • Meaningful choices
  • Structure
  • Potential conflicts

Werbach and Hunter use the structure element to ask:  “Can the desired behaviors be modeled through a set of algorithms?” For San Francisco firm Keas, structure comes in the form of challenges participants undergo during the workday to improve their wellness, Microsoft gamified identifying translation errors in Windows 7 dialog boxes, and airlines provide better service as you accumulate more miles.

Measuring results in improv is a less exact process, but ComedySportz gets around the problem by having the audience vote to see which team gets the points for a pair of competing games.  The idea that the show is a competition, where the players try to win but don’t care if they lose, provides a hook that makes the experience more than simple entertainment.

For businesses, organizational performance is often based on revenue, market share, and similar targets identified by the executive team. Individual employee performance is measured versus criteria set for each employee, but how do you provide an overall structure for a project, department, or division? Chip manufacturer Intel uses a Plan of Record, or POR, to identify goals and, in some cases, methodologies at all levels of the enterprise. That which adhereth to the POR is blessed; that which doth not is condemned.

Developing a structure to measure performance can be difficult, especially when applied to creative workers. Don’t feel compelled to gamify a process — the best gamification structure might be none at all.

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One Response

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  1. I’m glad you’re taking that class so I don’t have to.

    Dennis Gentry

    April 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm


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