The Case For: Gamification

I know I have mentioned it before, but I am a massive fan of gamification. Not only do I think it drastically increases participation, energy, and adoption of ideas/concepts/programs. I also feel like it helps sustain individuals and keep them coming back for more. Gamification is the reason people keep coming back to applications like FourSquare. If you think about it – what’s unique about FourSquare (recently rebranded Swarm I believe)? It’s a relatively pedestrian concept: here’s an app that lets you check in to retail, dining, or specialty locations and share that news with your friends. What’s so hip about that? It aces the ‘adoption’ test though, because it filled a gap in the market and was something that consumers could get behind and derive value from (even if only social status/recognition). Hence, it was downloaded a couple million times and reached a tipping point. But what made it sustain that momentum?

That, my friends, is the gamification element. And the insanely easy thing about their strategy? It is provided at no cost. The badging that they have built into the app is genius, and entices users to want to continue to use the app (thereby promoting the app and creating a snowball effect where even more potential users look into downloading/becoming regulars on the app). Who would have thought that simply unlocking a virtual, (financially) meaningless badge because I had checked into my 25th airport was so cool? Perhaps it’s the humblebrag in us all. Perhaps it’s just a way to occupy our minds. Either way, the addition of gamification can’t be denied when considering FourSquare’s success.

But gamification should not stop with social media/apps. It should be everywhere. It should be in meetings. It should be in our schools. It should be in our families. It should really be everywhere in our culture. I sincerely think you’d see a lot more engaged, active, and happy society. Which is why I’ll continue to bang the gamification drum and support anyone who is trying to use it.

Til Next Time,


The Case For: Post-Merger Integration Olympics


As promised, a follow up to how I would handle the Comcast/TWC merger and integration of the two companies.

DISCLAIMER: this is 90% satire, 10% real.  Keep that in mind.

Imagine this…  In order to peacefully unify two disparate companies practicing in totally different geographies, what if we used gamification (buzzword alert) to resolve the unsettled differences?  It would be great.  Not only would it be fun, lighthearted, and keep everyone optimistic about the integration.  It would rapidly accelerate the implementation timeline.

Here are some sample games that could be employed to define path forward for integration points:

  • CEO’s could compete in a decathlon of events to determine who takes point of crafting the mission/vision statement for the unified company
  • The VP’s of finance could play a game of checkers to see which company’s accounting or book-keeping software was used
  • Marketing departments could compete in a 24-hour marketing challenge (independently judged) to see which team would run point on the new company’s campaigns
  • Teams of front-line call center agents could play in a 2-on-2 basketball tournament to identify which team’s call scripting was used
  • Housekeeping staffs could participate in a giant tug-of-war to see which role description and responsibilities were claimed
  • Administrative assistants could participate in a skills competition in order to have higher placement in the draft to select the executives they are paired with

While quite rushed and void of much original human thought, this method would at least ensure both sides had a “fair shot” at being represented in the future state company.  Plus it could be really fun and build a great team chemistry/camaraderie.  I think a lot of times the post-merger integration of disparate sides is done way too methodically in a way that is painfully exhausting and lulls the sides to sleep (And do you ever do good work when you’re asleep?  Me either).  There is so much time wasted on figuring out who’s right, who’s wrong, which way is the best, etc.  At a certain point, you have to just make a decision, move on, adapt and sustain, or continue to operate differently.  Not every situation has a winner and a loser.  Sometimes we’re all right; and that’s alright.

Til Next Time,