Engaged with Gamification!


Many years ago I started to explore the concept of gamification, which is essentially the use of games and game theory to accomplish some other task.  Originally, the research and information I found talked about Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) that provided research on leadership, innovation, and communication skills and gave some indication that there was potential for leadership development and assessment using these methods.  To me, this was an amazing and wonderful prospect!  However, I never quite got the traction behind any initiatives to use these methods (insert sad face here).

Well, not long ago I was contacted by the CEO of an awesome new company called OfficeVibe.  And guess what…they focus on workplace gamification!  Not in the “let’s-get-together-and-hack-and-slash-goblins-and-build-guilds” kind of games, but rather with an ingenious engagement tool that brings multiple activities in one place worth points, and that encourage each of us to be better personally and professionally.  It runs similar to platforms such as Yammer that connect users via business email addresses, or even using their extant Yammer account.  I think it’s brilliant, and wanted to share it with everyone I can, so please check them out at www.officevibe.com.

Now, to make this even better, today I received a fantastic newsletter with a wonderful infographic about employee engagement from OfficeVibe that I also wanted to share.  Enjoy, and please stop by and check them out!  This is an amazing tool to meet many needs that many of us have today related to the engagement issues we all know we have and that the infographic beautifully illustrates!

10 Shocking Stats About Employee EngagementInfographic crafted with love by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform.

Advertisements

The Open Office Debate: I Love To Hate It!


I have noticed a considerable amount of chatter recently related to open work spaces (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), and the debate about whether they really help or hinder productivity and creativity.  Personally, I can’t stand open work spaces…all the time.  And here is where I think the debate is missing the mark: It may not be the best at all times, or for all things.

To explain this a little more clearly, I refer to another ongoing debate.  This second debate is about the “10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert” rule.  This is another one that has some staunch supporters on both sides including the likes of Malcolm Gladwell and Daniel Goleman (see here, here, here, and here).  In this debate, however, there is a poignant point presented: it’s not just about the number of hours, it’s about the quality of the time spent.  In other words, if you practice the same wrong thing for 10,000 hours, you will potentially be very good at doing the wrong thing, but still not at expert level of doing what you need to be doing.

Using this same logic, let’s look at the open office.  Is the open office the right setup at all times, for all work, or for all people?  I would like to believe that most of us would emphatically say no. I like the open workspace at times when I need to work with others off and on, say when I am working with SMEs to design and develop materials for learning programs, or discussing ideas for restructuring roles or teams.  However, when I need to concentrate and write material, reports, or other mentally intensive and focused work, the open work environment is completely distracting.

Now, I’m sure I will receive some backlash from this, but I want to use other examples from the high-tech industry as well.  At my current organization, we have many engineers and designers/developers working on networking infrastructure and coding.  They use an Agile methodology for much of what they do, as well as using DevOps methodology.  Both of these require a considerable amount of collaboration at times.  However, I still see plenty of these roles who retreat to their cubicles with the lights turned down low, headphones on, and in some cases even a shade of some sort over the top of their cube to create their own environment.  The reason is simply creation of an environment where we can concentrate.

We work best in small bursts of concentration of a minimum of about 45 minutes to a maximum of about 90 minutes.  After that, our mind tends to begin losing concentration and focus.  This means that while it may not be necessary to stay closed off to everyone all the time, there are times where we need a private, quiet space to escape to.  Working from home or a coffee shop often provides this type of environment, because while it is open, we do not know most people and therefore feel isolated and able to concentrate with the ability to look away from our computer or other work for a few minutes as necessary.  At work, this concept breaks down because we generally know most of the people around us, which creates a more social environment that can contribute to a drop in productivity and creativity at times.  So, as stated in the beginning the debate misses this mark.  Open work environments may not be the worst thing in the world, but they are not always the best.  The quality is what counts, and as always that depends on other circumstances and means different things at different times.

Think Like A Shark « Manage Better Now


This article is from a blog I follow that is always chock full of great ideas and quick bits of inspiration for managers, leaders, and the average person moving through life.

The most recent article does a really great job of reminding us that we sometimes get overwhelmed by things because we try to take in the macro concept instead of the micro, systemic components that make up the greater macro system.  In other words, as I mentioned in my comment on the blog article, small wins are still wins, and are steps toward a larger goal.  Enjoy the article, and ask yourself, what is a small win I can experience today that leads me on the path I want?

Think Like A Shark « Manage Better Now.

Not your average action plan


With the many challenges that face organizations and their leaders today, ensuring that learning events, seminars, and conferences provide a true value to the employee and overall organization is even more important than ever before.  The reason this is so important is the need to create an environment built for change and innovation, partnered with the need to attract and keep talent and the associated intellectual property.  People need more than the every day grind, and need to understand that the organization they work with believes they are important enough to invest in.  All of this together makes this a game with very high stakes.  So the question is how to accomplish this intricate intertwining?

In the past, the expectation was that if you were going to some type of learning or communication event, whether internal or external, you would gain whatever knowledge and information you could and hope to find ways to apply it in some way in your daily work once you returned.  That model is simply not effective and with the need for every dollar and minute spent to account for some type of return on investment, we need to find a better way.

Enter the action plan.  For most of us, the action plan may seem familiar.  In reality, most of us use it completely incorrectly and even fewer understand what it really is.  First, let’s talk about what it is not.  An action plan is not a directive from a manager or supervisor of what to do.  It is not a task list, nor is it a checklist.  An action plan is also not simply the “next steps”.  It is much more complex than these things, while encompassing many of the same components.

The best way that I have heard an action plan described is not just as the plan, but also as a living process.  It cannot be a static dumping ground, but must instead be a dynamic process leading up to an initial static document.  To accomplish this managers and supervisors need to schedule time with an employee before an event, and during this time discuss the program or event content, define the expected or desired takeaways are, and identify the expectations of the supervisor or manager after the event.  For the person attending the event, there needs to be a structured way of attending the event to obtain a solid comprehension of the learning.  Participants do this either with a printed form or through simply taking notes, but there are certain components needing identification throughout the program.  These include, for each lesson learned:

  • What did I learn? (This could be per day, week, month, module, book, speaker, etc.)
  • How can this help me do my job better?
  • What action steps, if any, can I take?
  • Start Date
  • Evaluation Date (Should be agreed upon either before the event, or in the post-conversation)
  • What resources will I need?
  • What barriers might I encounter?  Who can help me with these?

By using this process, the participant should have a clear picture of knowledge gains and the best use of those gains after the event.  Further, having this information available will be of great use when debriefing with the leadership afterwards, which is the next piece of the process.

Within the week immediately after the event, the participant and their leadership need to have time scheduled to discuss the event and the answers to the questions posed above.  At this point, the action plan in the sense of what we know it today begins to form, which will offer specific goals and timelines for check in and accomplishment as well as helping the leadership to find what learners need from them in terms of support and resources.  By following this method, the leader and employee share commitment to the action plan as both developed and designed it and both have stakes in it.  For the leadership, this is also an excellent addition to performance plans as a part of the performance management process.

References

Cowan, C.A., Goldman, E.F., & Hook, M. (2010). Flexible and inexpensive: Improving learning transfer and program evaluation through participant action plans. Performance Improvement, 49(5), 18-25. doi: 10.1002/pfi.20147

“You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech”


I recently had the good fortune to see a share through a couple of the psychology LinkedIn groups I belong to, and after watching the video, I felt compelled to share this absolutely fantastic TEDx video. 

The fact is, we have created an environment that says we are all special and should all expect to be treated as special and nothing less.  Dr. Daniel Crosby explains his presentation best as “a punch in the mouth more than a pat on the back,” at least for those that are used to thinking they are smart, special, and/or better than anyone else. In the presentation, he shows some of the pitfalls of this thinking and the associated behaviors in a very real, down to earth, enjoyable format.  I highly recommend checking out the video, and please feel free to leave comments!  Enjoy!

 

Change is good for our government too.


As I was reading an article on Yahoo and then began reading the comments associated with the article I came upon a few excellent words of wisdom.  I felt as though one in specific was important enough to pass along and save for future sharing as well.  Here is what I read:

REAL CHANGE will ONLY happen if WE make it happen!!

Politicians, ALL politicians will not serve the common people of this nation until they ARE common people of this nation. Politicians are RICH to begin with or else they cannot run as an “effective” candidate. They do not relate to common people and speak only in euphemistic idealism and platitudes of populist idealism. None of which they have any intentions of following through with. Bush did it. Clinton did it, Obama is definitely doing it. There will be NO CHANGE with him, or anyone under the current “system” of government we now endure!

The truth is simple: REAL CHANGE will ONLY happen if WE make it happen!!

Time for us to get control of the incredibly dysfunctional form our government has devolved into and hit the “reset button.” This will require an effort equal to what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, and trying to happen in Libya. Until we have common people in the legislature and running the government, you are just going to change the faces but NEVER SOLVE THE PROBLEMS. You may think these are unrealizable goals, but then, how realistic was it when the Colonial Army took on the British in the war for independence? We won that one, too, in case you’ve forgotten….

Here’s were we begin “budget reform”….

Congressional Reform Act of 2012

1. Term Limits.
8 years only, one of the possible options below..
A. Two 4-year Senate terms
B. 4 Two-year House terms
C. One 8-year Senate term and Two 4-Year House terms
D. One 8 year term for Supreme Court Justices
If term limits are requisite for the President, Vice-President, and State Governors, then they most certainly are equally imperative based on the same principles for ALL of our legislators and even the judicial high seats.

2. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

9. Make all lobbyists and special interest groups illegal. They have no basis or rights for their existence except the greed of the oligarchs they represent. This is the heart of our dysfunctional government system. This is “legal bribery” in America and the Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

10. All campaign contributions, corporate or private, cannot exceed $250 max. No candidate can use their OWN money to campaign with. This violates the constitutional principles of equal opportunities for ALL people in the nation. If candidates qualify for federal campaign monies, then that is what they can use. Otherwise, they hit the trail like everyone else for the last 200 years.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

This was written by a poster named Triad (I want to make sure to give credit where it is due).  I believe that our government, for all it is run as a corporation, needs some serious restructuring, process improvement, ethics and cultural training, leadership development, and constant 360 feedback processes.  Triad’s posting speaks to that eloquently, and I think as the American people we need to take the responsibility back for running our own government if we want to see real improvement.

Lessons Abound for Businesses in the Wake of Civil Unrest


With the number of major world events happening over the last 6 months, I have to believe that people are starting to take notice and ask why. In many cases perhaps there is no reason to ask why, such as the overturn of the Tunisian government, or the similar situation in Egypt. Even as we speak the unrest in Libya is building to a crescendo, with people around the globe starting to feel the impact at the gas pump and in the stock market. Not to mention there are plenty of people, myself included, that are waiting to see the outcome, and what it means for not only the Middle East and African countries, but for all peoples and countries around the world. Business should take lessons from these situations as well, not only of the impact to them, but for what it means in the country of “YourBusinessToday”.

We often look at situations in foreign countries and think that it could never happen to us, and what we certainly don’t think about are the similarities between a country and a business. Any time you have a population of people being governed by a body who has greater and greater power and control in the eyes of those people, you really walk a fine line. It is the responsibility of those in power to take a step back, listen to their people, and ensure that not only do they understand them but are working on their behalf to make things better for them. Without people to lead, and people who want to follow you, you have no authority and can and will lose much. Whether that much is a company or a country is based on your situation, but the result is generally still the same.

In tribes such as the Trobriander and others around the world they have this concept correct. There are even companies such as Gore that get it right. You have to keep groups small, allow the people to have a voice, base authority on merit, and truly have your people’s best interest at heart because your people are you and you are your people. When you create a hierarchical system, giving greater and greater authority while separating the leaders and people from each other, you often end up playing a huge game of telephone to understand what is really going on with the people. Authority and respect needs to be earned by leaders, and voluntarily given by followers. When you try to force it, or demand it, you degrade the entire structure of trust and communication. We see this when we look at world leaders who are killing their citizens to maintain control, or taking money out of their pockets in one form or another to fill their own, or even in the case of working over their people’s heads and behind their backs on “diplomatic policies” that are really about making the leaders power and money greater (sometimes at the expense of the people they serve).

Unfortunately we fail to notice, or do anything about, the actions of business leaders that are equally egregious. We as human beings tend to view it as a greater tragedy when bad things happen to a people of a country, but accept it more when it comes from a business. While business leaders may not be mowing down their employees (and who knows, perhaps some do!) there are certainly cases where they are making deals for their own benefit, and lining their own pockets because “they earned it”. I’m sure that many of the world leaders out there being overturned and ousted believed the same thing at one time or another.

The time may not have come yet, but I believe that if current events are any indication, the time will come when people around the world will begin to become infected with the pandemic virus of “we won’t take it any more”. As this day draws near businesses better take heed and make changes, because as the global economy changes, the global environment changes, and one only knows how many governments change there will certainly be the possibility of a target being painted on the front and back of every business leader. Again, we’re not there yet, but that day may not be too far in the future.