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Archive for June 2013

Gamification: Devising Activity Cycles

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My previous set of posts described elements of gamification (such as meaningful choices and conflict) and how to incorporate them into business and improv. Kevin Werbach and his coauthor Dan Hunter also identify six steps to gamification (For the Win, p. 86), which I think provide an excellent framework for business and theatrical endeavors. I just examined how you can describe your players using personas. In this post, I’ll talk about devising activity cycles.

As a quick review, the authors’ six D’s are:

  • Define business objectives
  • Delineate target behaviors
  • Describe your players
  • Devise activity cycles
  • Don’t forget the fun!
  • Deploy the appropriate tools

In a gamification context, activity cycles are the actions you want your players (teammates, customers, co-workers, etc.) to take. You can think of activity cycles as patterns of interaction with your site that represent a task or series of tasks taken to completion. As an example, consider how you check in at sites on FourSquare. Your activity cycle involves pulling up the app on your phone, having it sense your location, and giving it permission to check you in at that location. You can also earn badges, receive special offers, and be named Mayor of a location by checking in there more than everyone else.

Some sites have longer activity cycles. TeamSnap offers a website where you can track your sports teams’ rosters, schedule practices, track attendance, and record game results. You can even assign team members (or their parents) tasks such as bringing snacks to the game. TeamSnap’s also useful for improv groups who want to track practices, send messages, and schedule shows. (Full disclosure: I’m good friends with several TeamSnap executives and my main improv group, ComedySportz Portland, uses their site to track our activities.)

Businesses have activity cycles in all aspects of their operations. Client generation, sales tracking, and customer service all lend themselves to gamification. In some sense, businesses that track sales performance and use other measures to rank their employees already use elements of gamification, but many times those scenarios take on the tenor of the “motivational speech” Alec Baldwin’s character Blake delivers at the start of a monthly sales contest in the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. In that contest, first place is a Cadillac El Dorado, second place is a set of steak knives, and third place is “You’re fired.”

Some bosses thrive on intimidation and insult, but that approach goes against the spirit of gamification. If you want to gamify successfully, you can’t forget the fun.

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Gamification: Describing Your Players

leave a comment »

My previous set of posts described elements of gamification (such as meaningful choices and conflict) and how to incorporate them into business and improv. Kevin Werbach and his coauthor Dan Hunter also identify six steps to gamification (For the Win, p. 86), which I think provide an excellent framework for business and theatrical endeavors. I just spoke about delineating target behaviors. In this post, I’ll talk about describing your players.

As a quick review, the authors’ six D’s are:

  • Define business objectives
  • Delineate target behaviors
  • Describe your players
  • Devise activity cycles
  • Don’t forget the fun!
  • Deploy the appropriate tools

The Gamification course’s final written assignment asked us to create a reasonably detailed gamification plan for a company with a business model similar to Airbnb and other shared-resource mediation sites. I described my typical players using a set of personas that captured a range of user backgrounds and motivations. The prof changes his example scenario every time he offers the class, so I don’t mind giving you this segment of my answer.

As the site grows to include thousands of players, it would be impossible to break them down into a small number of categories. However, it is possible to create personas to characterize typical players that will engage in the ShareAll system. The following paragraphs describe four personas that represent the players.

Andrew: Andrew, a 43 year-old white male, is in upper management at a small web-based services firm. He can work wherever he has an internet connection, so he travels frequently and uses ShareAll’s lodging and car rental features when he does. He has been known to perform a quick pickup or errand for other members, but does so infrequently. Andrew is a focused user who sees ShareAll as a provider of specific services.

Helen: Helen, a 62 year-old African-American female, retired from a 35-year career as a clinical psychologist. She uses the task-running elements on the ShareAll site to have members pick up her groceries once or twice a month and to rent a car when she travels. She has also listed her basement apartment on the site, which brings in the occasional renter. Helen appreciates the convenience of the task providers and the income she generates when she rents out her apartment.

Timothy: Timothy is a 22 year-old Chinese-American male office worker who is taking a year off before going on to graduate school. He earns a good supplemental income by signing up for the task-oriented side of the ShareAll site, mostly by running errands but also as a driver for individuals who need rides to the airport. He has rented a car through the site on a few out-of-town trips, but he is not a frequent user of the site outside of his tasks. He networks with his friends to get as many referral Shares as he can. He also cares deeply about his reputation and does his best to provide excellent service. Timothy is working hard now so he can get an advanced degree without worrying too much about paying for his groceries when he’s back in school.

Steph: Steph is a 28 year-old white female who works as a waitress. She usually gets 24-30 hours of restaurant shifts per week, so she makes herself available for tasks such as house cleaning during her off hours. She also travels around the U.S. when she can and has used the ShareAll site to find rooms in the cities she visits. Like Timothy, Steph networks with friends to general referral credits. She does her best to earn money when she can to improve her life.

As the ShareAll site increases its player base, we can analyze their demographics and activities to create more meaningful segments and personas.

Many companies use personas to describe their customers, so take a look at these brief descriptions in terms of goals, backgrounds, and behaviors to get a feel for how you can create your own personas. What was fun for me, and is often fun for improvisers and business people alike, is including people you know in your work. Andrew is a good friend of mine, and Helen (not her real name) is establishing her professional credentials as a clinical psychologist. I see her having a long, successful career after she finishes jumping through the hoops required for licensure.