Making innovation part of the organization`s DNA is difficult. In my experience, people are focused on the short term and urgent stuff, so they don´t have time to innovate, even if it is on their performance evaluation criteria. My idea is to mix the concepts of Gamification, the use of game mechanics, to make innovation more fun and make people to happily participate, instead of asking them to get involved on innovation or pushing them to do it because its on their annual bonus.
As an innovation consultant, I have worked with many organizations that want to make innovation a core competency and part of their DNA. These organizations launch their innovation programs with excitement and commitment. Unfortunately, I have seen many times that, as time goes by, innovation begins to loose its priority and people begin saying the biggest excuse for not innovating: we don´t have time to innovate. I have seen that at the start, a group of leaders is engaged with the innovation iniciative and then participation and involvement begin to decrease over time. So, the big question is: How can we make innovation more engaging for all people in the organization? How can we sustain the effort over time? How can we make innovation more fun?
I think the solution to this problem can come from Gamification and the Fun Theory. Gamification is a growing trend that involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players. Fun Theory is the idea that fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.
If we combine the ideas from "Gamification" and "Fun Theory" to help us transform the innovation process and culture of a company into a game, it has the potential of making innovation more viral and getting people more interested around participating in the organization`s innovation efforts.
According to a 2011 Gartner Research Report it is estimated that by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. The trend has been picking up major momentum over the last year and has gained support from industry heavy weights such as Bing Gordon, Al Gore, J.P. Rangaswami, Chief Scientist of Salesforce.com, and many more.
Since creation of the Gamification Wiki in November 2010, Gamification has surged in popularity and Gamification has grown right along with it. It has quickly become one of the most talked about trends in Silicon Valley, with google trends showing the explosive growth continuing to accelerate.
So how to create a Game for helping companies to innovate? Here are my ideas:
- All the organization`s innovation efforts should be framed as a game.
- The game should have a game mechanic and rules where you earn points for collaborating in different forms with the innovation efforts.
- For example, you could win 1 point for finding an innovation opportunity (here we can user Gary Hammel`s 4 lenses of innovation (discontinuities, customer needs, questioning orthodoxies and competencies).
- There should be a software that tracks all innovation activity and assigns points individually, so you know on real time how you are doing in the game.
- For example, if I submit a DISCONTINUITY or important trend to the system, I should get a point. If some amount of people likes my submition, I could get more points.
- Of course, DISCONTINUITIES alone are not important. I should be able to earn more points if I join the dots and find a real big innovation opportunity based on insights summited from everyone, I could earn 5 points.
- As execution is one of the most important elements of making innovation happen, I should be able to earn more points if I execute and idea on the system. It doesn´t matter if I was not the person that generated the idea, but if there is no one pushing an idea forward, I could earn points by taking this idea and making it happen.
- So the "innovation game" should have levels, points, missions, badges, rankings and trophys.
- If we can design a game so engaging that it attracts many people to play the innovation process and earn points that they could exchange for prizes, it would become a killing app.
- A system like this could have the potential to recognize in real time the effort people are putting to make innovation happen in the organization.
- The innovation game will make more fun to participate in the innovation process. There could be missions in the game where management or other teams could frame an innovation challenge the organization has, like searching for new growth platforms or launching a new product, service or business model based on the opportunity on the market.
- The game would engage people so that they will be willing to put their time on the innovation efforts just for the gratification of playing the game.
- The game could become an instant reward and recognition system for people interested in helping and getting involved with the innovation process, and a very fun way of making innovation performance appraisals.
- The point system could encourage the kind of behaviours we want in the organization around innovation. For example, there would be more points for executing and idea than for proponsing an idea.
- The game could also support the creation of an innovation culture in an organization. For example, people could earn points by taking risks outside their confort zone.
- So making innovation fun, could help us have more people participating in the innovation process and being more engaged in the process
- Create a one day innovation game, so people have a feeling of how it works.
- It would be great to make them participate on a game simulation so they can experience the game first hand and have the opportunity to see fictional innovations move from opportunity, idea, prototype and final procuct.
Mario Morales, CEO Innovare. www. quieroinnovar.com