HRExaminer v3.39 September 28, 2012
Table of Contents
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
- 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.
120928 Five Links
- Why Don’t Employment Sites Have These Features?
Jeff Dickey-Chasens is the preeminent expert on job boards, their functionality, marketing and business strategy. Her, he outlines some useful functionality that would improve job board effectiveness and reach. He missed the voice-only option. What if there was a job board that could only be reached thru Siri?
Ah! What if Siri were a two way deal?
- The New Engagement Platform …
Citing a seminal HBR blog post on engagement, Ray Wang is starting to lay out the architecture of the “Engagement Platform”. It’s worth understanding this idea. Wang’s view neglects the employee feedback, learning and performance management aspects of the engagement ecosystem. But, those holes will get filled in. This is what the beginnig looks like. In the long haul, engagement is a conversation about the relationship between employees and customers.
- Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
A five minute video that illustrates how powerful data visualization can be. Who is doing this level of work in HR Analytics?
- The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies
This is the single best analysis of the meaning of social technology in business to date.
“Today, more than 1.5 billion people around the globe have an account on a social networking site, and almost one in five online hours is spent on social networks— increasingly via mobile devices. By 2011, 72 percent of companies surveyed reported using social technologies in their businesses and 90 percent of those users reported that they are seeing benefits.”
- Big Data and the Cloud Transform HR
A couple of solid nuggets about big companies who are revising their worldviews with big data. Good introduction to
the Morning Download
The HR leader slowly shook her head, frustrated she was unable to convince her CEO to support her talent management proposal. “Well,” she concluded with a chagrined look, “you can lead a horse to water . . . “ And, with one phrase, the blame had shifted.
This was not her problem anymore. She believed her design was sound and her arguments persuasive. Any reasonable person, she thought, would endorse her vision. If the CEO hadn’t bought in, it was due to a fundamental flaw in his thinking or character.
On the plane home, that tired idiom ran though my mind. If you actually lead a horse to water and it doesn’t drink, is that necessarily the horse’s fault? While I had tortured analogies before, I hadn’t yet tortured an idiom. So this was the perfect opportunity. I realized that there were actually three distinct possibilities in that situation.
You’re Leading Poorly: The journey with this horse has been so tortuous that the horse is now pissed off, exhausted or both. You’ve guided it on a meandering, indirect route. The trip was long, and many times the horse suspected you were lost and simply pretending to know the way. The part about the water wasn’t even mentioned until about halfway through. Even then, it was something vague about a “beverage.”
In this case, the horse may well be thirsty but it has no confidence in your ability to lead him to water.
The Water’s Bad: Let’s assume this is a logical horse, an experienced horse. It’s not this horse’s first rodeo. The horse is well aware what high quality water looks and tastes like. You’ve led this horse to water and told him to drink it. The horse hesitates. He looks into the water and something appears off. He asks you a few questions: “How do you know this water will actually quench my thirst? Isn’t this same water you asked me to try a few years ago that was actually stagnant? Are there other beverage options available that might taste even better?”You smile condescendingly at the horse, grab his neck and shove his head into the water. “Everyone else drinks this water! You should too.” The horse holds its breath. It’s now wet, angry and extremely unlikely to drink what it considers to be foul water.
In this case, the horse would be happy to drink, but you’ve led him to bad water.
You haven’t made him thirsty: You know this horse has previously been led to water and was happy to drink. In fact, when he has liked the water he’s even told his stable mates about it and convinced them to drink it too. Right now, however, this is a contented horse and you’ve done nothing to make him thirsty. You haven’t described how water will make him run faster or have a richer coat. You haven’t exercised the horse until he realizes he needs water.
In this case, you haven’t convinced that water will in any way benefit him.
There is one other possibility if you lead your horse to water and it doesn’t drink. You may have a stupid horse. In that case, you can spend years trying to educate the horse or, better yet, you can find a new horse. But until you rule out the three factors above, let’s not be so quick to shift blame to the horse.
Where The Innovation Went: Sales HR
Periodically, you should take a look at Ray Wang’s Software Insider’s Point of View There’s no better place to get an understanding of the evolving world of enterprise technology. Wang has a grasp of things that is both deep and subtle
Sunday’s update proclaims that Dreamforce is the South by Southwest for the Enterprise. Dreamforce is the annual Salesforce.com convention. With 48,000 attendees and 90,000 registrants, it’s like a Coachella festival for the sales team. In Ray’s words, “The event represented the intersection of where aspiration meets innovation for the enterprise.”
Like last year, I made a pilgrimage to the Moscone Center to witness the fun.
I’ve been watching the HRTechnology scene for a long time. With each passing year, I wonder a little more about where the innovation comes from. At Dreamforce, I found it. The sales department is doing the innovation that the rest of the organization needs.
Selling to HR is notoriously slow and difficult. The Sales Department, on the other hand, is real-time performance driven. Anything that can generate a shred of competitive advantage is an easy sell and an easy purchase. What do you know about the primary assets of the sales team? They are all people.
Social Learning, Talent Management, Performance Assessment and lots of tools that connect people. The software that wasn’t built for pure lead generation, sales management, marketing and reporting, all looked just like HR Technology. It’s just that you’re not going to see much of it at the HR trade shows.
Here are a few of the amazing companies I saw:
At its simplest, this tool tracks performance and identifies top performers. It then groups them and begins identifying key similarities. These attributes drive the hiring and candidate evaluation process.
Big Data Analytics. In HR, no one has ever heard of Hadoop. Effectively, data from all company systems (and loads of external data) can be blended into a single analytical tool. Companies like CETAS are in the business of helping their customers connect the dots.
- Blackboard Learn
If you haven’t spent time inside a multimedia online classroom, you’re missing a key HR innovation. Sales Force agility depends on quick learning and the ability to rapidly communicate changes in the market. Blackboard learn was one of several social learning tools in evidence. Social learning delivers intelligence quickly to the places where it is needed the most.
This is a focused, niche oriented, social listening tool (like SocialEars). It combines social media data with real time news feeds to support sales people as they move into a call. By providing a clear blend of relevant info, the rep is given tools to quickly warm the relationship. It would be a great thing to implement internally as a part of social HR.
Digital technology moves through our landscapes like a tornado, stripping away the familiar while installing a new order. In some ways, we’re increasingly nonplussed by astonishing change. In other ways, we are constantly being taken by surprise. After two decades of relentless change, you’d think we would get used to it.
As technical capabilities explode, it’s increasingly possible to reconsider the impossible. Barely five years ago, the consensus of the scientific community was that driving could never be automated. The obstacle was left hand turns into oncoming traffic. There were simply too many variables. No imaginable data processing scheme could handle that much information.
Today, Google’s fleet of self-piloted vehicles are logging thousands of hours on the road. It only took one eighteen month generation of technology to move the impossible into the here and now. The pace of technical change, operating like an accelerating drumbeat in the background is constantly rearranging the things we think of as normal.
There are two kinds of innovation, sustaining and disruptive.
Sustaining innovations produce more of the same and a faster more efficient pace. Much of the automation in enterprise software is really sustaining innovation. It automates existing processes rather than transforming them. Sustaining innovations maintain and improve the status quo. Examples are everywhere: better razorblades, wrinkle-free shirts, run flat tires.
Disruptive innovations change the playing field. They rearrange the status quo. They take existing processes and turn them on their ears. Like the Google car example , the impossible becomes possible.
At the heart of disruptive change is the rate at which technology expands. Most of our world operates on linear change; things get a little bit better all the time. Technology creates exponential change. Computer processing capacity doubles each year.
Math teachers illuminate this dynamic with the rice problem. If a chessboard were to have rice placed upon each square such that one grain were placed on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, and so on (doubling the number of grains on each subsequent square), how many grains of rice would be on the chessboard at the halfway point?
That’s one billion seventy three million seven hundred forty one thousand eight hundred and twenty four. A contemporary computer chip is 1 billion times as powerful as the 1980 version. Today’s smartphones are more powerful than the most expensive supercomputer of the mid 1980s, the Cray. Each year is a square on the chessboard.
And, when it doubles again next year, it will dwarf this year’s capacity. This is the underlying rhythm of our times. It’s at the heart of Amazon’s rise to prominence as the largest retailer. It explains how and why the global economy now runs on outsourcing.
Disruption is not limited to things that are somehow ‘out there’. In recent memory, recruiting evolved from a purely reactive discipline to a proactive profession focused on specific results. Old school recruiters harvest what comes in over the transom. New school recruiters identify the talent they want and hunt it down. The result is better, faster hires. The process is enabled by all sorts of technology from search engines to social media.