Gamify by Brian Burke – Productivity Book Group

Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things [ ] by Brian Burke.

Dr. Frank Buck, the author of Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders ], and regular speaker on time management, joins me as usual to co-host this summary-review episode on Productivity Book Group.

About the Author (from Amazon)

“Brian Burke is a Research Vice President at Gartner, covering enterprise architecture for the past 15 years. For the past three years, he has been leading research on the emerging gamification trend. As an expert in enterprise architecture, he has worked for decades on understanding disruptive technology trends and their implications for business. He currently leads research in business outcome-driven enterprise architecture, and his groundbreaking work in the development of federated architectures has been implemented in hundreds of organizations in both the public and private sectors. He is also a prominent researcher and speaker in the areas of gamification, enterprise architecture, innovation management and IT strategy. He has been published and interviewed in Wall Street Journal, BBC, USA Today, Financial Times, Inc, The Guardian, Forbes Online.”

About the Book (from the book cover)

“Organizations are facing an engagement crisis.  Regardless if they are customers, employees, patients, students, citizens, stakeholders, organizations struggle to meaningfully engage their key constituent groups who have a precious and limited resource: their time. Not surprisingly, these stakeholders have developed deflector shields to protect themselves. Only a privileged few organizations are allowed to penetrate the shield, and even less will meaningfully engage. To penetrate the shield, and engage the audience, organizations need an edge. Gamification has emerged as a way to gain that edge and organizations are beginning to see it as a key tool in their digital engagement strategy. While gamification has tremendous potential to break through, most companies will get it wrong. Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design.  As a trend, gamification is at the peak of the hype cycle; it has been oversold and it is broadly misunderstood. We are heading for the inevitable fall. Too many organizations have been led to believe that gamification is a magic elixir for indoctrinating the masses and manipulating them to do their bidding. These organizations are mistaking people for puppets, and these transparently cynical efforts are doomed to fail.  This book goes beyond the hype and focuses on the 20% that are getting it right. We have spoken to hundreds of leaders in organizations around the world about their gamification strategies and we have seen some spectacular successes. The book examines some of these successes and identifies the common characteristics of these initiatives to define the solution space for success. It is a guide written for leaders of gamification initiatives to help them avoid the pitfalls and employ the best practices, to ensure they join the 20% that gets it right.  Gamify shows gamification in action: as a powerful approach to engaging and motivating people to achieving their goals, while at the same time achieving organizational objectives.  It can be used to motivate people to change behaviors, develop skills, and drive innovation. The sweet spot for gamification objectives is the space where the business objectives and player objectives are aligned. Like two sides of the same coin, player and business goals may outwardly appear different, but they are often the same thing, expressed different ways.  The key to gamification success is to engage people on an emotional level and motivating them to achieve their goals.”

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Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:00
Welcome, everybody to productivity Book Group. I’m your host and facilitator, Ray Sydney Smith. Thank you for joining us here on the podcast for productivity book groups, summary review episode of gamify, how gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things by Brian Burke. And I have with me, Dr. Frank buck, how’s it going?

Frank Buck, EdD 0:21
It’s good. Glad to be here with you. Right.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:23
wonderful to have you here. And so before we get into the book, we are I just like to tell you a little bit about the the book and the author. And so gamify is a book that is written by Brian Burke, who is the Chief of research. And I thought so I saw somewhere else online that he’s he’s currently the Vice President of Research, but I don’t know if that’s the same title or not have for enterprise architecture and technology, innovation, and program and portfolio management at Gartner. And His research focuses primarily on enterprise our architecture, emerging technologies, and innovation management. I’m reading this directly from the Gartner website. It says he’s the author of the 2014, book gamify, how gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things. In 2002, he launched the Enterprise Architecture summit in London, and has chaired that conference for the past 17 years. And quote, and so given gamify itself, the book, reading from the from the description on Amazon, it says organizations are facing an engagement crisis, regardless if they are customers, employees, patients, students, citizens, stakeholders, organizations struggles to meaningfully engage their key constituent groups who have a precious and limited resource their time. And then he talks about gamification, having emerged from the area of of digital and the unfortunate failure of gamification, because of its misuse. And and then basically says gamify. The book shows gamification in action as a powerful approach to engaging and motivating people to to achieving their goals, while at the same time achieving organizational objectives. It can be used to motivate people to change behaviors, develop skills, and Dr. innovations in those three things that he really hones in on in the book in terms of what gamification should, gamification schools should be. And it says the sweet spot for gamification objectives is a space where business objectives and player objectives are aligned, like two sides of the same coin player and business goals may outwardly appear different. But they are often the same thing expressed different ways. The key to gamification success is to engage people on an emotional level, motivating them to achieve their goals. So, Frank, let’s start off with just kind of initial impressions of the book, what were your initial impressions of the book and, and I think, as a disclaimer, for both of us, we both actually have only listened to the audiobook version, I’ve I’ve actually not read this book, on paper, either. And so we both listen to the audiobook. So a lot of this may be a little bit more blended together for us than say, if I feel like when I read a book, I have a much better understanding of its its structure. But for me, I’ve listened to the book twice now through and one not so recently ago. So

Frank Buck, EdD 3:29
well, of course, you know, my background is education. I was a principal central office administrator for many, many years. And you know, gamification is something that is very big in the education arena, right now. So a lot of it I was relating back to, you know, my own experiences, there matches up fairly well that we as people, we like to have goals, we like to have those targets, we like to know, how we match up against those targets, how we, you know, we know, when we have reached our goal, we like rewards. And you know, those sorts of things, those extrinsic motivators work. I know they’re there is that that element? Of course, it says that intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic motivation. But, you know, having the carrot is a big thing. So I think I think he’s point is certainly well taken, you know, the overall point of gamification. And the more that we have technology in our lives that helps us measure if we’re reaching our goals. I think we’re going to see more and more along this area.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 4:50
Yeah. So So before we started recording, you know, we were both commiserating on our initial kind of impressions of the book. And before we get into, into what gamified even is, or its its structure, I really felt like the book was a primer, right? It was definitely very sparse in terms of what the what the real functions are, for an individual to be able to take the reins for gamified their life. So this is definitely a book about and for engaging people in and on the organizational level. And so that’s where Brian Burke is speaking from. And I really do feel, though, that the broad principles he talks about really can be used as broad principles for gamification in one’s own personal productivity. So but you have to read it through that lens, you can’t, you can’t presume that this book is, is designed for personal productivity. And you can just read it outright as that because that’s not what it is, right? It’s it’s really a primer on how organizations can can make their employees more productive. By using game gamification, principles and techniques. I was reading the, the Goodreads com criticisms of the book, and I kept thinking to myself, well, you’re reading it, you’re reading it from through the wrong lens, you know, you saw gamify as the as the cover title, and you thought that it was about gamified, your personal productivity life. And it really isn’t. And, and I think part of the struggle there is that it actually surfaces in all the algorithms as a personal productivity book, because of all of the discussion today about gamification, but it is about gamified. It’s, you know, as the subtitle says, it says how gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things. It’s because he’s talking about that on the organizational level, especially coming from Gartner. You know, Major, a major firm like that. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about gamification, what it is, why it is, and all that fun stuff. Frank, do you want us to take a stab at the kind of definition that Brian Burke uses here to talk about gamification?

Frank Buck, EdD 7:03
Well, I, you know, it talks about gamification as being an approach to engage people to motivate people to achieve goals within the organization. And, and move those organizational goals forward. It’s used to achieve to to change behavior, to improve skills to drive innovation.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 7:30
Absolutely, you’re spot on, and gamification in the more generalized context outside of Brian Burke’s scope here, which is, again, like I said, organizations, but if we really branch this out, we can talk about game. gamification is really the two applying these game design elements, right? where, you know, we’re not talking about game theory, by the way, and I think people confuse this with game theory. But gamification itself, is using these these game design elements and game principles in non game contexts, which means that gamification is not necessarily fun, right? So you don’t have what’s called the illusory attitude that is doing something for the sake of it. It’s not doing something for the sake of it, it’s really the the fact that you’re engaged in something that doesn’t necessarily have an intended outcome that you need, for example, right. So a game has the sense that you’re doing something for no particular reason, Wikipedia says, the illusory attitude is the psychological attitude required of a player entering into the play of a game, to adopt illusory attitude to accept the arbitrary rules of a game in order to facilitate the the resulting experience of play. So in essence, it’s really the fact that there are there are arbitrary rules in a game, right. And, and that’s a part of, of play. That’s not the case in gamification, in the context of personal productivity, because the rules of the game may or may not be arbitrary, some maybe, but but not all of them will be. And so there’s a there’s definitely a blur between what is fun, and what is play. And that which is work. And gamification really is about applying those same skills and tools to non game non play contexts. So I think it’s really powerful once you kind of get that concept that you’re going to have to do some stuff that’s potentially mundane, potentially not fun. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not gamification, if you’re doing it correctly. So that’s gamification, in essence, and and so in, in chapter one, Brian Burke attempts to kind of give us some some shots across the bow in a way, what he’s trying to really help us understand is the fact that gamification has gotten quite a bit of, of publicity in a very short period of time, right? It became, it was coined in 2002. But it really didn’t become of great interest to everyone until probably 2010 to 2013, when you had a quite a number of experts, people in the public sphere, both in technology and design, and business, who then brought this concept to the fore. And in Berks perspective, they screwed it up.

And so, so what, in essence, everybody kind of rallied around this, this concept, and everybody wanted to gamify. And so many of the leaders and organizations basically created reward programs, and said that that was gamification. And in reality, that’s not the case. And so it was quite a little bit of I felt that he was, he was not being too harsh, but he’s British. And so there’s a little bit of British stiff upper lip Enos to the to the writing there, but it’s, it sounds a bit harsh, if you if you don’t know that about him. And so he just basically, you know, states that there’s been there, there’s clearly been a misuse of the term, he wants the term to change. He doesn’t want to use gamification, but he knows that it’s not going to happen, because that’s just the way languages you know, we’ve adopted the term and so we’re, we’re kind of stuck with it. And, and so therefore, that’s what it is. And then his his second shot across the bow, is this idea that there is a limit to what gamification can do to make productivity fun, or to make predict to make you productive in certain categories of life? I mean, there’s just there are just boundaries to which gamification can work. And I think that a lot of organizations as well as people who want to gamify their life, say, Oh, yeah, well, I want to, you know, I want to be able to do this gamification thing in this particular area of my life, and why isn’t it working? You know, and I use the example I run a getting things done, or GTD have Boudicca Party, which is a group inside of the game, the habit development game, America, the number one problem is that you can game the game, you can go into a bit of join our party, so you don’t even have to join our party, you could join the game, you can set up a whole bunch of habits that you want to develop. And you can just keep checking the boxes every day that you’re doing them. And you’ll gain your points, and you’ll level up, and you’ll be able to hatch your eggs and and have your pets and then you know, upgrade your mounts all this fun stuff, right. But in reality, a bit of it is about doing the real life things that are going to further your goals. So if you’re not doing those things, and you’re just checking off the box says, You’re not truly improving. And to be quite honest, you’re going to notice that, so you’re either going to stop playing the game, or you’re going to tell us that the game is somehow flawed. But fundamentally, that’s not it, there’s an upper bounds to the fact that you’re not accountable to anyone, but yourself in that environment, unless you create external accountability, right. So you have to have that intrinsic motivation. And we’ll talk about that in a moment. But the reality is, is that unless you genuinely want to stop screwing yourself, by just checking those boxes off and not actually doing the things in your real in your real world, then then that’s on you. That’s not on gamification. gamification has done its job, it’s giving you all of the faculties to be able to have a really great experience and America, but it can’t make you do something, it can pave a pathway, it can it can flatten the road through a forest, but it can’t, it can’t make you walk. So So frank, I want it I want to get into this discussion of engagement and motivation, because Brian Burke talks about this in the book in a way that I think is very engaging and interesting. And you kind of you kind of touched on this in, in defining gamification, it’s this idea of transactional and emotional engagement, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. What did you Garner from his his discussion of those topics?

Frank Buck, EdD 14:23
Well, again, you know, going back to, when we talk about engagement, that is such a hot topic in schools, these days of engaging students, that you that students coming to class, sitting in class doing the word going through the motions, that’s not what we’re after, that people have to be actively involved in the process to really learn and get better. And, of course, what what you were talking about, as far as gaming, gaming, the game gaming the system, checking off the boxes, sort of reminds me to the student who borrows someone else’s homework, and he, you know, he turns in the homework, he often gets the points and cheats nobody but himself. But, you know, nobody finds out for a while, and he doesn’t really face the consequences for a while, until he, you know, gets to a certain point in academia, where he’s got to stand on his own two feet, and can or gets out in the real world. And, and can’t. So, you know, it really goes back to what is so hot in schools these days,

Raymond Sidney-Smith 15:38
Burke talks about this idea that there is intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, that is intrinsic being things that are motivated from the the inside, and those things that are extrinsic, those things that are the carrots of the world, right. If you if you do x, then you will get why while there is something fundamentally powerful about the idea of I will give you piece of candy, if you do this thing for me, there, there is a there’s a there’s a boundary, there’s an upper boundary to how much extrinsic motivation will will make people do things and to some greater extent, he then cites some discussion and research about that actually backfiring that sometimes giving more money, or other kinds of monetary rewards, can can actually de motivate employees, and therefore it can motivate you. And I actually believe that of the inverse, I do believe in this idea that the stick is also as an extrinsic, you know, motivator, we either through negative reinforcement, or through outright punishment, those things can be very counterproductive to people. And we have several programs in the world now, like online portals, where you can say, here it goes some money. And if I don’t do this thing, then I want you to send this money or give this money to say in a political organization I disagree with or, or some kind of other charity that I don’t believe in or cause I don’t believe that. So, you know, it’s a, it’s a very high bar, in essence, you know, you’re kind of making a statement that you’re going to, you’re going to do something that’s very distasteful to you. But in reality, even if you do that thing, right, you say, I’m going to go running every day, for the next week. And then you go ahead and do that. And then Yay, you didn’t give money to this horrible organization, or what you feel as a horrible organization, or, you know, group, what you’ve done, though, is, and this is conjecture on my part, I’m not I’m not a psychologist, but the but my, my conjecture on this, my feeling is that you are, you’re setting up your psychologically priming yourself for this idea that you are, are working from fear based perspective, right. And if you start to fear things, as your only mechanism for wanting to grow personally and professionally, that’s not true development, you’re going to actually start limiting the things that you do, because you only want to do the things that you absolutely going to do. And we know that learning and growth happens through discomfort and failure.

Frank Buck, EdD 18:21
And, you know, going back to that, that running analogy, you know, if I, if I don’t go out and run today, then I, you know, have to give $15 to this awful, awful organization that I pose. So I go out in my run so that I don’t have to make that contribution, well, then what happens once that particular aspect goes away? Well, then I’m just not going to run period. And of course, what we want to do is that you run because you enjoy running, you enjoy the experience you enjoy, you know, being with your own thoughts, or the morning, or whatever it might be that you just enjoy it for the sake of yet, rather than the reward that’s going to come your way if you run today, or the punishment that’s going to come your way if you don’t.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 19:13
And so again, we circle back to this idea that gamification should cover the goals of gamification should should focus on one or more of the three things that that Frank used in his definition of gamification, changing behaviors, developing skills, and driving innovation. And all of those things mean that the player has to have meaningful goals. That is that this needs to be meaningful to the player, and that the players success is actually the meaningful goal. And by doing so, Gartner posits that the organization’s goals are actually a byproduct of the players goals being achieved. So it’s only by focusing on the player goals for success that an organization can get players to play. And therefore, the gamification that happens is for the organization’s goals, an outcome that is tangential to it, it’s just it will happen because the player goals being successful, I relate this to personal productivity from the perspective that happiness is not the the goal of anything in your productive life. It or shouldn’t be, because happiness is volatile. And and Mercurial you can’t step on happiness twice, right? It’s happiness is happiness is a byproduct of you doing activities that you intrinsically and are and extrinsic Lee are motivated to do. And so over over the arc of time, you get a sense of humor, Venus, right, because happiness is many different emotions mashed together, from ecstasy and joy to contentment, and a sense of serenity, all of these things on polar opposites, and everything in between happiness to as a construct is something that you need to you need to look at, over the course of time, not in in necessarily one particular outcome of one particular thing. So, you know, it’s like, you have to, you have to, you have to focus on the individual projects and goals, and outcomes that become the arc of that, which helps create a stage for happiness. And I think that’s what he’s kind of saying here about gamification within organizations. But I also think that if you are trying to develop a personal productivity program for yourself, then you need to keep that in mind as well, which is, you know, if you’re trying to develop a, some kind of gamified life, well, if you’re trying to get to some larger outcomes, right across your, your entire productive life, you need to break down your goals as the player for being able to do so. And if you’re trying to do that for your kids, for example, say you’re trying to gamify some some, you know, some area of your life at home, doing that for your kids, you have to remember that the kids player goals need to take privacy, so that you’re able to then achieve the the larger goal which may be teaching the kids to be responsible about picking up their, their, you know, laundry off the floor in their bedrooms, or, you know, helping to clean up the table after dinner, that macro goal of the organization, which is to teach them order and, and cleanliness and manners, and so on so forth. It needs to be kind of a background issue to the players goals in the minutia. The only final thing I thought about in this particular section of the book, and then we’re going to kind of glaze over some of these other parts, because they’re really not practical for personal productivity.

I wanted to make note of the fact that motivation, as Brian Burke talks about can be fabricated. And I think this is a very powerful concept that I lifted from the book, something that in all of my reading, and I’ve read quite a lot about gamification. and game design, generally, although I’m not a game designer, I just thought it’s a really interesting concept. And he talks about this idea that motivation can be fabricated, and, and I really hadn’t thought about it that way. But the reality is, is that it can you can create within a community, a construct, that then becomes the motivation. And in the digital world where you’re capable of creating badges and points and virtual assets. You know, a badge is a virtual asset, it’s not an it doesn’t exist, it didn’t mean it didn’t exist before. It was created in the digital world, and it doesn’t exist in the in the physical real world, yet it can have real world consequences. That is, you can feel very good about having that badge, and the recognition, public recognition of having this thing that doesn’t actually exist, right? It’s ones and zeros living on the internet. Very, very fascinating, fascinating concept, he uses the example of Mayor ships in Foursquare on the social platform for for, you know, checking in. And so Foursquare allows you to be able to have, if you check in more than anyone else at a location, you become the mayor of that location. And there there there goes a, you know, that’s a completely fabricated motivation, right? You have this this title, this role that has no legal or power over anything, and you’re capable of getting people to want to vie for it, you know, people will come to this location more often because of it. So think about ways in which you can manifest that in your own world, just that pure principle of creating a title or role for yourself by being able to do something more than others. Very, very interesting.

Frank Buck, EdD 25:01
Yeah. But but it works. And again, because of, you know, the advances in technology, and that sort of data being so easy to to gather. You know, it just makes it also easy to do.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 25:16
I want to just highlight two more things, and then we’re going to wrap up. One thing is that rewards programs, Brian talks about this concept that rewards programs are not gamified programs. And I said this earlier, but he shows a clear difference between gamification and a rewards program is that gamification engages players in furtherance of meaningful goals. And that means that there are intrinsic goals primarily, I mean, sometimes they can be extrinsic, but most often than not, they their intrinsic and, and and so if you if you can find meaningful goals, then you can use the elements of points leaderboards, and and and rewards to be able to move forward with those things. But but in by and large, if you can, if you can find meaningful goals, then points badges and leaderboards as they talk about typically in game mechanics can be utilized in a fun way. As as some closing thoughts here. One super better, which we’ve talked about before, here on productivity Book Group, there’s at least one episode where we cover this this super better by Jane McGonigal. And and Dr. McGonigal talks about how to create really a full real life game for oneself to improve almost any area of your life. And different from gamify, which is really a rallying call, right? I use the the analogy of the shot across the bow is a warning shot. You know, that’s what that’s what the book is really all about. And so I don’t want people to think that this is kind of a methodology methodological book. It’s not, it’s, it’s really a much more of a theoretical warning, kind of book. I appreciated it on that level. But I certainly don’t think that it’s one of the books that you want to, you know, cozy up at night. And, and read. But, but super better, is really the manual for doing what Brian Burke talks about, for the individual for the personal productivity. And I and I really recommend that book for for that kind of thing. So really recommend that there’s a there’s a matching program, you know, mobile application for Super better. And then there’s, of course, as I said before, is America, America is the habit development applications. So if you’re looking to develop habits or skills, you can really use Helvetica for for manufacturing that game, so that you’re able to go ahead and develop those things. And and so, any final thoughts, Frank, before we close out this discussion?

Frank Buck, EdD 27:55
Well, you know, I enjoyed live to the book, I thought it was a little longer than it needed to be fairly, you know, fairly simple topic. I thought it especially with the background that I have, and having seen so much of that in the the world of education. I think kind of interesting I google, this particular author found a YouTube where he was talking about gamification, and I think a TEDx talk, and wound up with playing a game called coot, which very popular now in the world of education, that allows, you know, even hundreds of people to play a game on their phones to gather quiz sort of thing, where you’re getting points not only for correct answers, but being the first one, you know, the get the correct answer, or among the first one, and you see exactly how you stand up the leaderboard. So you know exactly how you are standing amongst those other several hundred people that are there. So I thought, well, you know, there’s something that probably most every student in the United States is enjoying in their school that was, you know, being used here in this conference and say, new to all of those people.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 29:15
Fantastic. And I’ll place a link to cahoot in the show notes so people can can find it, because it is spelled oddly. And so, so wonderful, thank you. And I would agree with you, Frank, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t not read this book, if you’re truly in inclined toward gamification, and its broad principles, and wanting to know kind of how it works, because he, he has this, you know, structure for, for the player journey, he walks people through a typical player journey, and the different components that kind of lay on either side of that, you know, we just touched on the very surface of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. But there’s also collaboration and other kinds of functions that you can kind of guesstimate where and how powerful this particular you know, game design element is going to be for and as you develop a game, and just some really good stuff in there, but it’s it’s definitely much more organization focused, and you need to translate it for personal productivity. It’s not it’s not a personal productivity book in that sense. So this closes out the conversation for the summary review of gamify how gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things by Brian Burke. Thank you, Frank, for this discussion and your insights.

Frank Buck, EdD 30:31
It was a pleasure to be here.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 30:32
Great. I have a few announcements before we end the call. First and foremost, I welcome you to join us in the conversation about gamify by visiting productivity book And scrolling down to the bottom and commenting on this episode with your thoughts and experiences on this book’s topic, as well. Please visit productivity book And find out the details and the schedule for upcoming quarterly book discussion calls. If you plan to read with us, feel free to visit the website and check out the schedule on the upcoming books page. And if you are listening to our us on iTunes, Stitcher Google Play or whichever podcast directory or app you use to access productivity Book Group, go ahead and make sure that you review us It helps expand our readership and brings new readers and callers to the fold. If you don’t already subscribe, please head on over there and subscribe. And thank you. Finally, all podcast episodes are archived at productivity book under episodes, so if you missed a live discussion, call and author interview or summary review episode that we mentioned. You want to go ahead and listen to it or listen to it again. Feel free to head over there. Thank you Dr. Frank buck, for joining us, as always, and thank you on my behalf recently Smith for the summer review episode of productivity Book Group. We hope you join us again next time. Here’s your productive life.

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