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Using Games to Get Employees Thinking

Using Games to Get Employees Thinking

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Published by Crowdsourcing.org

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Aug 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Using Games to Get Employees Thinking
Organizations can make productive things happen byletting their workers compete for virtual points.
Kenrick Vezina | Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Office games:
The U.K.’s
Department for Work andPensions uses a game calledIdea Street togenerate newideas from employees.Credit: U.K. Department forWork and Pensions
Companies have been using crowdsourcing to get large groups of outside volunteers to answer a question or perform a task, butnow they are finding ways to crowdsource internally
by usinggames and contests that entice employees to generate, hone,and implement ideas.Nearly two years ago the U.K. Department of Work andPensions (DWP) began asking its employees to play a gamecalledIdea Street in their Web browsers. The game is like a suggestion box for the agency, but it rewards players forgenerating new ideas: they get DWPeas
a virtual currency to beused in the game.By implementing suggestions made through the game, thedepartment expects to save roughly $30 million by 2014,says David Cotterill,the DWP's deputy director of innovation. Some of these ideas are deceptively simple but improve theefficiency of the department, such as a new way for employees toreserve conference rooms and a simple app that analyzes theDWP's data-storage availability.
Games are turning up in a variety of business-oriented settingsthese days. Microsoft created 
, a downloadable game designed to teach people how touse the company's Office software.Walt Scacchi and his colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, havedeveloped
, which turns a "first-person shooter"game,
Unreal Tournament 3
, into something that trains peoplehow to work in a semiconductor factory. The ShapeUpplatform uses games to encourage employee health.Badgeville,a startup that helps companies use online games to attract consumers,recently secured a $12 million round of funding."People have always played games while they work; it's just thatnow it's being formalized and the games are more fun,"says Richard Bartle,a games researcher and one of the pioneers of the massively multiplayer online game industry. The researchfirm Gartner predicts that more than 70 percent of the world's2,000 largest companies will soon have at least one "gamifiedapplication" by 2015.At the DWP, players of Idea Street earn rewards in the form of DWPeas not only by submitting ideas but also by providingfeedback on others' ideas. Leader boards track employees withthe most points.The points also help the organization select and develop goodideas. Suppose you have an idea that accumulates a certain levelof positive comments from the community. It thereby graduatesto a team-building phase, in which you'll have to enlist a certainnumber of teammates to support your idea. If you succeed atthis, your idea will move on to the final phase, in which you builda business case for it and try to get other players to invest theirDWPeas in the idea. Ultimately, it will go to an approval board,and if it is green-lighted there, all the people who invested inyour idea will get a return on their investment. At DWP, Cotterillsays, about 25 percent of ideas that make it to the final phaseget implemented.Seeing the benefits, including the way the game breaks up largetasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, other departmentsof the British government are beginning to use Idea Street. Itdebuted in the Ministry of Justice and the Department forBusiness Innovation and Skills last year.

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