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eMee: Serious Gamification

Myopia means nearsightedness. In a pivotal Harvard Business Review article, Theodore Levitt used it as a metaphor for the tunnel vision that companies get when they think they know the market. That sort of myopia, the sense that you know everything and are the expert, happens routinely in our rapidly changing world.

I am continually surprised to learn the things I thought were true are no longer so. For example, I've always thought that US digital technology was superior. The next batch of players would be Asia, then Europe and the UK. While there is some great work coming out of India, I wouldn't look there for innovation.

My jaw dropped when I saw that the first ever comprehensive enterprise management platform using gamification was developed by Persistent Systems, an Indian company.

Persistent's social gamification platform, eMee, harnesses game dynamics to drive both productivity and personnel development. With a range of game tactics, the platform allows a company to create and execute an overlay that is mapped to the specific enterprise. The company believes in practicing what it preaches. The first and most comprehensive system to date is the one they use to operate Persistent Systems.

In the hands of sophisticated experienced designers, gamification is a form of visualization. A well-executed game can help employees see their progress, their performance, evaluate their opportunities, improve their understanding, develop their careers, acquire new skills, and accelerate transitions between jobs.

The key is in understanding and mapping of the core enterprise. If all you offer is simple leader boards and badges ( we made fun of this last year), gamification is a dead end. This is partly because the same people who always make it to the top of the charts stay there. Everyone else gets frustrated because the game seems rigged and there are only a few boring ways to compete.

Great multi player games have many options for exploration and give each player the freedom to develop her own mission or journey. eMee's has found a way to bring those concepts to work. The design (when mapped competently) encourages personal responsibility and evolution in a competitive framework. The game platform shows trench level employees that their jobs and careers are 'growable'.

With eMee, performance management is a real time, layered experience that involves feedback streams from customers, peers, suppliers, collaborators and managers. Real time data is critical in this project driven environment where people switch bosses and projects multiple times per year. In some ways, that makes eMee the first automated manager. When the entire organization is agile and moving rapidly between opportunities, an interactive system is clearly preferable to a single manager trying to remember what happened over the past year for an employee she rarely sees.

That's a really interesting facet of the emerging workplace. The only person with a clear view of the continuity of a job is the person doing it-often because management neither understands the details of the work nor can keep up with the rapid changes. The real source of performance feedback ought to be the immediate work context (accumulated over time). This has huge implications for education gamification around the enterprise.

Workers want and need feedback on a variety of areas:

  • technical competence
  • friendliness
  • customer satisfaction
  • pure task completion
  • task process metrics
  • task completion impact analytics
  • qualitative arenas (crowd sourcing facilitates this)
  • improvement paths.

Gamification of the enterprise allows this feedback to flow easily to and from the boss, coworkers, customers, subordinates and the company systems. eMee is a great example of social gamification.

eMee can be modified and configured to meet the needs of any culture. That's key. In some places, a full virtual world with detailed paths for each level and each job is the right thing to do. In other company cultures, a sleek interface that bares the real game dynamics is what's called for.

Yet applying gamification to company management is a huge conceptual shift. Gamification of this caliber requires extensive preparation before it can be installed or used effectively. You cannot systematize work you don't deeply understand.

The people at eMee are also quick to point out that installing gamification is not a one shot deal. The initial installation always generates early bias in the system. As people figure out how to 'game' the game, results skew. The task of the game administrators is to keep the system a meritocracy. Gamification at this level is anything but trivial, at the same time bringing fun into the serious business of getting the company's work done.

eMee is proving its value in a dynamic environment focused on the continuing pursuit of excellence in all aspects of the enterprise.