Making Enterprise Gamification Work – Part 2: Get the definition of enterprise gamification correct

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In the previous post, I mentioned the consequences of using the standard definition of gamification within the enterprise. So, this raises the question: If not this definition of gamification then what to use within the enterprise?

Lets understand, at an abstract level,  how organizations work and what they want to achieve?

  • Organizations usually have structured business processes that are core to the day-to-day operations. Each function/department defines it’s own set of business processes and employees are expected to follow these processes as part of their day-to-day work
    • For example: Sales process on how to capture leads, customer conversation records, customer support queries, software development process, project management process, recruitment, procurement etc.
  • These business processes are usually implemented on top of systems which employees use as part of their work
    • For example: project tracking platform. Learning management system, CRM & HR systems etc
  • In an organization, either something (process/system) would be broken & the organization would want to fix it or the organization wants to embark on a new path. This usually takes form of ‘Change Management’ initiatives or initiatives that amplify a given behavior.
    • For example: Sales people not updating the Sales system after they meet prospects. People not taking part in community activities. Organization wanting that all employees get trained in a particular area. etc
  • Organization usually rewards people who demonstrate the behavior that is being promoted in hope of setting the right examples/motivating people.

In light of above, a definition of gamificaton that would work best in organizations is:

Gamification is about driving desired user behavior / change management, in your systems & business processes, through a combination of rewards & recognition with social constructs

Am sure that if you use this definition to explain gamification, most people would not only get it but realize the need for it and get to to the next question of “how do we do it”

Making Enterprise Gamification Work – Part 1: Get the definition of enterprise gamification correct

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You would have looked at the definition of gamification if you are responsible for implementing gamification in your enterprise systems. Chances are, more often than not, you would have come across a definition that reads like the one below:

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.[1][2][3] Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagementreturn on investmentdata qualitytimeliness, and learning.[4]


As a person who will be implementing gamification, you will be required to give a 1-2 line pitch of what gamification is to people who may not know what it is. Now, you will have few choices to make:

  • Use the above definition to explain what is gamification and then be prepared for questions & responses like “games”… “what games” “….oh you mean create games” and so on or even looks which convey “.. that went over my head” .. i don’t understand a word of what you just said…”.
  • After your experiences with above definition, you will quickly fall back to using terms like ‘adding badges, levels, awards to systems’ . This will be a sure shot way to trivialize the impact of gamification even before you embark on the journey.

The above definition may work or make sense to people implementing gamification in consumer facing applications, research scholars, academia but there is very little chance of the above getting traction in an enterprise context. The reality is that people either can’t understand the connection between terms like games (or terms like game-mechanics) to serious enterprise work  or they will equate it to something trivial.

In case of enterprise gamification, the envelope containing the message is as important as the message itself. As they say, the first impressions/perceptions of many things can make or break initiatives. Your choice of definition on what gamification means is one of those.