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Author's profile photo Tonja Erismann

The emPLAYee – how gamification can foster innovation in your organization (Part I)


Wondering what an emPLAYee is?!

YOUR employee of the future!

Here’s why:

  1. Your workforce will be ¾ Millenials in ten years (Deloitte)
  2. Millennials respond exceptionally well to gamification:
    • Half of Millennial respondents find real life less stimulating than gaming (MTV researcher Nick Shore)
    • Game Designer Jane McGonigal: the average 21year-old has spent over ten thousand hours playing video games, which equals the amount of schooltime between 5th to 12th grade
  3. Gamification is a fantastic driver for innovation:

    • More than half of the companies that manage the innovation process will gamify that process by 2015 (Gartner)
    • Gamification increases engagement in networks
      • Research shows that people who are engaged are not only more productive ((Fleming, L. and C. King, A. Juda, “Small Worlds and Regional Innovation“), but a higher level of interaction also significantly improves the quality of their contributions
        • The more diverse your network, the more you’re exposed to the world, the more relevant ideas you will have
        • The more you share your ideas, and collaborate with others, the richer your concepts will get and the faster they will reach maturity
      • Better networked companies are better innovators.
        • Example:  Zappos – ranked no.20 in the world’s most innovative companies – organically creates innovation by improving employee networks and promoting a culture of ‘collisions’
      • Millennials prefer to work in ‘wirearchies’ – dynamic digital networks of connected nodes free of predefined priorities or ranks – where the org chart no longer represents the “go-to” people in an organization. (Frank, M. and Roehrig, P. and Pring, B. “Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business“)
    • Gamification builds on passion
      • The more passionate you are about a topic, the more likely you are to be well-informed and ready to persist in cases of resistance and failure – vital in Innovation, which we all know is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration (Edison)

So: Gamification is the ideal lever to raise your innovation profile as an organization, as it will be the ‘natural stimulator’ for your future worker, and a key ingredient driving the networked and passion-driven company.

Looking for some hands-on advice on how to gamify innovation? Read Part II of this blog!


About the Author: Tonja Erismann is an innovation and strategy expert and Head of Innovation DNA in SAP’s Global Services Innovation group, with over 15 years of emerging technology management and consulting experience with leading global businesses.

Follow me on Twitter @TonjaErismann

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      Author's profile photo Rohit Mahajan
      Rohit Mahajan

      Good overview.

      But any negative impact is missed, that should be also part of this.

      Author's profile photo Tonja Erismann
      Tonja Erismann
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the feedback Rohit - and you're right! Any specific negative impact you have experienced that should appear here?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Tonja,

      I like your post, but I also agree with Rohit. Gamification may have very positive effect, but there can be some negative impacts too (like employee manipulation, micromanagement, etc.). There are also situations where Gamification had unintended effects (e.g. Google News Badges)

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      You have gotten off to a nice start with your overview of quotes from thought leaders, but what do *you* think? Your one sentence at the end is not much in the way of personal insights. When you edit this blog to add the negative impact, it would also add value for you to elaborate more on your own thoughts or conclusions you drew about gamification. That is the point of a blog.



      Author's profile photo Tonja Erismann
      Tonja Erismann
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for your comments so far, and here’s some thoughts I would like to add, based on experiences I made with applying gamification to innovation:

      One obvious way to apply gamification to innovation is to gamify ideation. Whilst applying gaming methods to idea campaigns proved to be very successful – increasing participation, engagement and constructive competition - I found there are the following two downsides to using gamification:

      • It raises the amount of work that needs to go into an idea campaign BEFORE the campaign: ie you need to have a very good idea of the challenge for your idea campaign, need to be very clear about evaluation criteria and ideally need a campaign tool that helps you with the implementation of gaming characteristics, eg points for submitting ideas, badges for helpful comments & evaluation of other ideas, leadership boards, roles & status in the ideation community etc.. So while later on it speeds up innovation cycles, initially it slows them down.
      • As we are usually applying Design Thinking for the ideation process, the underlying goal is to raise empathy and develop a true understanding of the problem space, which may mean that during ideation you reformulate your idea challenge because of insights you get. Gamifying an idea challenge seems to take this specific flexibility out, as once you got the crowd hooked on a challenge you can’t just change it.

      These are just two of the insights I gained - Realizing that there is much more to say on that topic: Watch out for my next blog where I’ll go into more details of what worked and what didn’t in gamifying innovation.