The ideas formed during brainstorming sessions and roundtable discussions brought many young entrepreneurs to the forefront of the startup generation. But it’s evident now that brainstorming about great ideas just isn’t enough. Not even close. Businesses have to take those ideas and use them to help spur innovation across the company. How can they get their employees to collaborate and share their best concepts? Through gamification.
Companies have been using gamification for years, long before the term was coined in fact, to motivate their employees and customers. Boy Scouts have their badges, dieters have their Weight Watchers point systems, and the famous “name my product” contest has been around for a long time. All of these tactics have seen continued success across multiple industries.
So how does this translate into innovation for your workforce?
According to Gartner research, more than half of the companies that manage the innovation process will gamify that process by 2015. Obviously this trend is on the rise. But it’s important to keep in mind that when gamifying your workforce to foster innovation, there are specific variables to you must consider in order to succeed.
CHANNEL ENERGY TOWARDS A SINGLE GOAL
Gamification in this sense needs to foster a collaborative, crowdsourced environment in which everyone is working towards a large goal. Employees should be channeling their energy in one of two ways. Option one – focus on specific, defined personal goals that are a part of a larger organizational incentive. Or, option two – focus on a single, company wide goal that everyone can pitch in towards.
Either way, the result is the same. Employees are motivated by the bigger picture and feel as though they’re contributing to the future of the company while forging their own path to greatness.
CONNECT THE DOTS – SHOW YOUR EMPLOYEES HOW THEIR CONTRIBUTION COUNTED
People are always more motivated to participate in innovation if that change will affect them personally. By adding gamification elements to your projects, your employee will see that they’re part of a bigger community, and part of a winning idea.
Teaming up and receiving rewards, such as badges, for their parts in the process will encourage them to do more as it showcases their achievements to fellow employees. Likewise, sharing the results of their efforts and hard work in real time (using public leaderboards for specific metrics, or general applause for overall effort) helps keep their motivation levels up and increases their drive to participate in future projects.
TURN IDEATION INTO INNOVATION
Encourage employees to get their hands dirty. Even small businesses can benefit from this type of tactic. With so many employees touting their ability to “wear a lot of hats” it’s important to encourage employees to embrace innovative ideas and follow through with those plans. Anyone can come up with a great idea, but not many have the wherewithal to actually make it happen.
Use gamification methods, such as contests or rewards, to give employees an outlet for their ideas and continue the process to help them organize support throughout their journey towards innovation. If you start with a contest to choose the best idea, you can get the whole team involved right from the start. Once an idea has been chosen, employees can continue to participate by adding their own insights and foster cross-departmental collaboration. The need for resources may present itself at this time, but by now the seed has been planted and the financial risk/reward is apparent.
Being privy to so many parts of this cycle will provide employees with a sense of empowerment, and give them the experience needed to expand their ideas and goals. By implementing employee engagement programs inside your office, you can get your employees to share their best ideas in a collaborative fashion. Once this happens, no limit to the business possibilities.
How has your organization used gamification to foster innovation? What do you think the future holds for this type of gamification?
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Charlotte Ritter is a technology analyst for TechnologyAdvice. She covers business intelligence, gamification, project management, and other emerging technology. She has also written about startups, company growth, and talent management. Connect with her on LinkedIn.