8 years, 4 months ago

Four G’s: Gartner, Gamification, Getting Things Done & Game Theory

Gartner’s Steve Prentice, talked about the potential impact of Gamification to businesses in Asia at a conference this week. Gartner predict that by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use Gamification as a primary mechanism to transform business operations. At first, this prediction seemed unlikely to me until he made an analogy: –

“We all do Gamification already. Gamification is when we create a To Do List and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking items off and finally completing the list. It gives us focus and goals to achieve”.



This simple comment changed my narrow perspective on Gamification:  fresh-faced, generation Y-Z-ers somehow applying ‘World of Warcraft’ in a vague business context.  Insipred by, Mr. Prentice, I took another look at the subject. This led me to consider a number of ‘Game Playing’ techniques including the popular, if somewhat cultish, ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD) approach.

Gamification and GTD 

A blogger, ikaruga2099, sums-up my initial reaction to GTD:

“It has the smell of hokiness and psuedo-science. How is that? No matter how you organize your life, your time and energy are ultimately limited. And if you do too many things at once, you fall into the “jack of all trades, master of none” trap—where you “do” a million things but do none of them well”.

He, however, goes on to add:

“It became apparent that GTD has elements of a good game—that’s why it’s so popular! But we can use game theory to make it much better”.

Mr. Warero makes the following suggestions (presumably as a result of applying game theory):

1.      GTD needs a compelling story. We already know about the need to organize our lives, so we just need inspiration to use GTD.

2.      GTD needs clearly defined and easy-to-understand rules and objectives (satisfying work). In GTD, tasks must be clearly defined and actionable.

3.      GTD needs unnecessary obstacles (it needs to be fun).

4.      GTD needs to make failure fun (give us the hope of doing better next time).

5.      GTD needs to be social.

Gamification and Game Theory 

My knowledge of game theory is limited to a few brief articles on the web; however, I understand it is described as a theory that is a study of strategic decision making. It’s also known as ‘interactive decision theory’ which focuses on how groups of people interact. It is these aspects: interaction and decision-making that resonate for me when I think about Gamification for business. 

I’m finding that, if I combine Steve Prentice’s ‘To Do List’ analogy with interactive team decisions, I’m able see where Gamification might work. I have also come to realize my colleagues and I have been ‘Gamifying’ team activities for many years:  ever since we first applied De Bono’s ‘Six Thing Hats’ in software development project in the early ‘90s, to SCRUM & Agile more recently, right up to a conversation today about using ‘Gamestorming’ techniques.

While Gamification will, no doubt, take on many forms, could a version that focuses on simple task-based, collaborative, decisions & actions be the sweet-spot for business transformation? Maybe Gartner’s predictions are not as wild as they might first appear.


Gamification at Microsoft

(Thanks to William Warero)

The goals they defined for Gamifcation of in the Microsoft work environment were:

·        To increase trust, reduce fear

·        To create internal markets for ideas, cash & talent

·        To take the work out of work

He highlights the following lessons learnt:

·        Games appeal to everyone, especially at work!

·        Collaborative play builds trust.

·        Games don’t work everywhere or in every situation.

·        Leverage core player skills.

·        Leaderboards and scoring compete with the paycheck for motivation.

·        Experimentation is critical.

·        Amplify skill with volume

·        Reduce cost with Discovery & Instrumentation

·        Reduce Risk with Diversity

·        Trust and transparency increase effectiveness.


Referenced & Related articles:

David Allen: Getting Things Done:


William Warero: Gamification of GTD:


ikaruga2099: Getting Things Done With Game Theory: 


Dave Gray,  Sunni Brown & James Macanufo : Gamestoming:


Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world:


Nigel Green: Serious About Play and Comics:






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