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In my previous blog ‘The emPLAYee – how gamification can foster innovation in your organization (Part 1)’ I talked about the reasons and drivers that make gamification a great means of channeling innovation in an organization. Based on my experiences as Head of Innovation DNA – a program which has the vision to instill an Innovation DNA into the employees of the SAP APJ Services organization – here’s what worked in gamifying innovation:

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  1. Even the highest passion for innovation is useless if your people march in the wrong direction, so understanding innovation goals and how they tie into the greater strategic ones is the basis for meaningful innovation. Often this means giving innovation a vision – but how do you make sure people know and understand that vision and their role in it? When we communicated the Innovation DNA to the organization, we didn’t just send out yet another infomail; the framework was packaged in a quest, in which the participants had to solve a series of quizzes/questions, which lead them to the actual framework infopage. While the extra time of solving a riddle may put some people off (who would have looked at it were it just presented to them), it intrigued enough people to get a decent result – the usual hitrates after an infomail which contains a link for more info were more than quadrupled!
  2. A second focus area that helps drive innopreneurship is to teach people how to become more creative – creativity, against many people’s belief, is not a trait but a skill that can be learnt (see eg Sean Kelly’s CreativitySeminar)! A great way of raising your workforce’s creativity skills is to package them into an edugame – eg a quiz in which they learn to understand their own strengths and learn new ways of raising their creative profile.
  3. Apart from creative skills you may also want to encourage certain behaviour that stimulates innovation (see eg IDEO’s ‘Ten faces of innovation’), such as collaboration, risk-taking or inquisitiveness. Understanding and nurturing these behaviors can be achieved by creating specific roles, eg in the form of avatars, that community members can achieve by playing an active part in an innovation community.
  4. The most obvious area to gamify is the ideation process: eg by ensuring maximum participation and collaboration in crowdsourcing untapped ideas. The basis for this is a platform, such as the newly launched SAP Innovation Management product, which helps target a specific community with a specific problem to solve. Gamification can be used in idea campaign management to:
    • Award badges and points for sharing ideas within a community
    • Create leadership boards to vote up the best ideas
    • Introduce roles and status in the community for active members who build upon the ideas of others and collaborate
  5. Gamification is also a very useful tool for the evaluation of ideas & concepts, eg through developing activities and giving rewards for sourcing experts that rate and evaluate ideas, which accelerates feedback cycles & accuracy.
  6. Last but not least, the realization and fine-tuning of ideas that makes or breaks their breakthrough as an innovation (and not just an invention), is another playground for gamification: Prototyping, experimentation and testing can be enhanced by creating constructive competition (eg in labs), and increasing engagement and participation in recruiting early users and adopters.

While this is by no means a complete overview of innovation gamification samples, it reflects what worked for me. Any important practices that I missed? I look forward to your comments!

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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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