Red puzzleFive Scenarios for the Future of Recruiting: VIII The Games

Up at 6am. 15 points. Hit the snoozebar once. Minus 5 points. Brush your teeth for three full minutes. 50 Points (with a bonus from the toothpaste maker). Right sized healthy breakfast. 25 points.

Arrive at work on time. 25 points. Attend all meetings on time. 75 points. Make meeting contributions recognized by peers. 100 points. Return all emails and phone calls. 25 points. Healthy lunch. 30 Points. Walk after lunch. 50 Points. Make five calls (or widgets or requisitions or whatever) as described in objectives. 40 points. Stay 1/2 hour later than usual. 25 points.

Take public transit home. 70 Points. Watch TV (an enormous point bonanza). Bush teeth for three full minutes. 50 Points (with a bonus from the toothpaste maker). Get in bed early enough to earn the well-rested points bonus in the morning.
– Adapted from Design Outside The Box

It’s the logical extension of performance management programs. By coupling frequent flyer style points systems, game design and performance management, the world has become points crazed. Work performance is ranked along with every other aspect of life.

The points system allows companies to identify and harvest their true fans. They compete in every aspect of life for the opportunity to build an ‘authentic’ relationship calibrated by measurement. Payment for the consumption of advertising, which in 2010 is already somewhat expected, has exploded into a global preoccupation.

Rather than an Orwellian ‘Big Brother’, life is an interaction with a storm of ‘little sisters’ who measure us and offer incentives for performance. Like Life In Public, our hunger for recognition, achievement and progress increasingly makes our lives public and transparent.

As each individual becomes a monetizable data stream, first the marketers join in. Sooner or later, the employers begin to understand that you can mine the point system as a cross check on employee potential and performance. Ultimately, the point system becomes a combination of pipeline and reference.

It’s as if MeritBuilder‘s wildest fantasy took shape. As the point system expands, there’s little reason for employers not to make it a part of compensation. After all, if you can use the Frequent Flyer miles and the company gives them to you for a bit more than they got them wholesale, why wouldn’t you take them?

And so, we are entering a post-national currency system. With points available for barter across product and company lines, the ATM of the future is likely to allow access and movement between monetary and non-monetary point systems. After all, Money Wants To Be Free.

It’s the all gaming all the time future.

The keys to mastery of career, manpower, staffing, workforce planning, compensation and a host of other issues are the same for all sides. Knowing what you want, with extreme specificity, is the core capability required to navigate the all points universe. With incentives and compensation for every increment of behavior, the ability to alter specifications on demand and align compensation systems accordingly is where competitive advantage lies.

This implies a deeper and more robust connection between HR, Recruiting and Line Management. The fine tuning of job offers and delivery of novel compensation structures requires a constant collaboration amongst the three groups.

You can easily imagine workforce planning becoming an exchange. You can, as easily imagine this as the structure for all all-contracting economy.

At the Spring ERE Expo, on Wednesday the 17th, at 3:15, I’m giving a presentation called Recruiting Disruption. The session will be a conversation based on this series of articles. My goal in developing the series has been to try to provide all of the content that might normally be associated with a typical conference presentation in advance. I hope to engage in a lively conversation at ERE that barely resembles a typical conference session as a result.

The traditional conference model makes this sort of weird assumption that the split between “person on the stage” and “audience” is somehow normal and appropriate. In the age of the Internet, it is rarely true that the distance between speaker and participants is as great as it once was.

We all have access to the same content. That wasn’t the status quo even five years ago. I am constantly astonished by how well read, smart and experienced my colleagues are. In this experiment, I hope to create a collegial atmosphere for conversation.

If you come and are so inclined, I’m happy to run the conversation about the Future of Recruiting and the coming disruptions well into the evening.

To read the rest of the series:

Also, Peter Clayton’s Total Picture Radio has a podcast that gives a good overview. Here’s the transcript.

Thank You: Pinstripe Talent. Without their visionary support, this project would not have been possible.

  • John, this is interesting. Would you be open to expanding upon this in another post or discussion? I am open to the notion of 'things' becoming more and more gaming-centric. I see this quite often – in fact, many Millenials have points literally infused into their worldview through online gaming platforms (XBox Live, Playstation Network), as well as the explosion of Massive, Multi-Player, Online Roll-Playing Games (MMORPG).

    The only thing I ask myself is if using points as a way to motivate (the right word?) work behaviors is assuming that most workers are inherently robotic by nature.?. Will they all follow point structures like sheep to the slaughterhouse? This is a rhetorical question and surely doesn't have a black-and-white answer.

    I should probably mention that, as of late, I've taken more interest in outdated Econometrics-based notion that assumes everybody acts independently. With my work at OODA5, we've learned that Adam Smith's worldview of free markets and the under-riding assumption of what 'rationality' is may have been flawed all along. In fact, isn't that what Alan Greenspan admitted here? —

    I am more kin to the worldview of Network Theory; that everyone is interdependent and interconnected. At least it allows for an explanation of altruism, which doesn't fit in well with 'rationality'.

    So my thought (or question) is . . . can point-systems influence behavior at the system level (systems comprised of multiple human networks, both internal and external to the firm)? I believe they can . . . but this approach would involve reverse-engineering from an 'ideal state' (i.e. value-creation, more rapid innovation, etc.) to the individual network nodes (people) themselves, as opposed with starting at the node and moving outward.

    As in military planning, perhaps the approach is to start with both the 'starting point' and 'destination' in mind. When scenario planning with field-expedient terrain maps (made of sticks, rocks, etc.), I remember having to plan from H-Hour (moving forward in time) and then Mission Accomplishment (moving backward in time). Often, the approach of planning through both lenses provided insights and contingency action plans.

    Ok, rambling, so I'll run – great article and thanks for getting the synapses firing on this Saturday morning. Time to go bike a few miles and lift some weights 🙂

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