Using intranet gamification to shape organisational culture

Gamification is a term which has sometimes tended to divide intranet managers as to whether it’s something that can be effectively used on their intranet. I wrote a post for IBF last year which was cautious about its use, saying that the organisation probably needed the right culture for it to succeed. Done in the right way it can drive online adoption, but probably amongst users who are already contributors, or where there is already a sense of community.

In 2012 despite some reservations about the term itself, gamification is still very much on the intranet radar as a potential option. Intranetizen recently covered the topic in a balanced way, and now one of the winners of Step Two Designs’ Intranet Innovation Awards 2012 shows how games can be used to actually drive organisational culture.  (For disclosure,  I project manage the Awards also author the accompanying report for Step Two.)

Russian retail start-up Enter certainly has the most extensive and imaginative use of explicit gaming techniques delivered via an intranet I have come across.

Enter  is a retail start-up which, despite being founded in 2011, already plans to have more than 100 stores open within the European part of Russia by the end of 2012. It has extremely ambitious expansion plans and recognizes it has a job on its hands trying to recruit the right sort of people so quickly. It wants to craft a unique customer experience by creating a dynamic culture, very much in the mould of Zappo’s, focused on concepts like ‘happiness’  and ‘innovation’, but shot through with a spirit which emphasizes both teamwork and personal responsibility.

enter_screenshot_blagodashka_1_english_intro.jpg

Above: A profile on Enter’s Jive platform with some of the points and ratings displayed. Screenshot appears courtesy of Enter and Step Two Designs.

Creating that culture among a group of early pioneers is perhaps the easier part. Maintaining it through rapid expansion is extremely difficult. As one of the ways to do this Enter has created a motivational game called OlimpiaDA! (literally translated as Olympic Yes) where employees can pick up points for various online and offline activities. The game is principally delivered via their intranet (Called “Me-Team”) which is I believe is the first Jive implementation in Russia.  The game means there has been some customisation to Jive.

No financial rewards

One of the principles of OlimpiaDA! is that there are no financial rewards on offer for doing well in the game. Individuals have their own performance targets which may be linked to salary, but these are not part of OlimpiaDA! Instead each quarter the top thirty employees with the most points in the game (of course displayed on a leader board) are taken on a surprise holiday somewhere in Russia which are based on highly memorable experiences, for example outdoor activities. Each year the top 30 winners go on a holiday abroad.

I believe this means the motivation to do well in OlimpiaDA! is more likely to be intrinsic rather than extrinsic, a potentially more powerful lever than financial rewards outlined for example with some clarity in Daniel Pink’s book Drive.

Points make prizes

On the surface the game appears to be quite complex, with points awarded for a variety of different activities, some of them quite off-the-wall. Where OlimpiaDA! goes beyond traditional gamification efforts is it recognizes both online and offline behaviours.  Points are awarded for:

  • an online feedback and recognition system called’ ‘lagodashkas’, where individuals can give positive feedback about an individual via their online profile across five different categories of company values
  • special awards by managers to employees who work in retail or shop floor environments (as there people are less likely to get regular feedback from office-bound colleagues)
  • team KPIs
  • a face recognition game (very similar to Zappo’s) where individuals have to match names to photos and photos to names when they log-in
  • a truly inspired “Lucky Lunch” game where every Wednesday morning upon entering the intranet, an electronic fruit machine spins and you are paired up with a random individual to go to lunch with. (You get points if you both go for lunch together, and it even puts a meeting note into Outlook.)
  • a “Master Class” programme where you can deliver training to colleagues in subjects you’re an expert in, both business and non-business. You get a point for everybody who attends.
  • Referring individuals to join Enter.

Recruitment drive

Of the activities described above, clearly referring like-minded individuals to Enter has the most value to the business, especially as it is expanding so rapidly. Reflecting this value, the points are weighted so that it is more value than anything else, and you get more points for referring somebody higher up in the company.  Generally offline behaviour has a much higher weighting in points than online actions.

Another clever thing Enter have done with their approach is to make sure that the game can be easily administered to add new categories or to change the weighting of points. For example the special awards by managers to non-office staff was introduced to redress a balance where most of the Blagodashkas were being issued by those in the office who had more time to access the system.

Driving culture

Whether the game will really help to drive a unique culture at Enter over the next few years remains to be seen, but the firm is giving it prominence. It was launched with some flourish at a company-wide event, and is routinely mentioned in recruitment interviews.  The game always seems to provoke a reaction and may be regarded as a good indication of the type of employees who are likely to help deliver Enter’s vision. Most importantly Enter is already being recognized externally for excellence in customer service, and perhaps OlimpiaDA! has played a part.

If you want more details about Enter’s experiment with gamification then pick up the report for the 2012 Intranet Innovation Awards which has a full case study, packed with lots of screenshots. (And with fifteen other great case studies too!)

Comments

  1. Simon Thompson (@thompsonsimon) says

    October 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    (Edit)

    While I’m not a fan of gamification as part of the intranet, I have enjoyed seeing examples such as Sabretown and now Enter, and I find I’m weighing up where the intrinsic/extrinsic divide really lies.

    To me, winning a holiday would be an extrinsic motivator, but being recognised as a top contributor to the success of the company (or at least its customer service ethos) would be intrinsic, and spending time with others who thought similarly would be reward enough in itself.

    I wonder how much we need to be thinking about motivating the group. In particular, can we set a base standard of behaviour, who are the people we need to motivate first, and how can they/we motivate people beyond that?

    Also, I wonder what kind of advantage a new business like Enter has over more established (and entrenched) organisations.

    Reply

    • Steve Bynghall says

      October 12, 2012 at 5:27 AM

      (Edit)

      I think the line between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is fuzzy. For example I may want to get recognition at work because it feels good, but also because I think it may help me to get a new position which pays £££. With Enter the holiday is much more of a shared experience with a group of other winners – a sort of extended intense team-building exercise – and I think you would absolutely need to buy into the company’s values to enjoy it. It is also high-profile recognition, so i think it definitely swings towards the intrinsic side of things.

      Understanding what motivates people is key to success in these kinds of initiatives so the rewards, the way people are recognised, the positioning, the speed of response etc. all become important.

      On the advantage Enter have over more established organisations, I think its primarily that they can hire the sort of people who are going to be engaged with OlimpiaDA!, probably a younger more extrovert crowd.