Motivation before technology
Pick up any book on knowledge management and it will no doubt share a case study on the technology trap, where institutions attempt to make best use of their organizational knowledge by primarily thinking about the problem from an IT perspective centered around software and hardware. Instead of strategizing how to build a culture of knowledge sharing and making the case to their coworkers of its importance, they first turn to technology to solve their problem. In this situation, a well planned roll out introducing the content management system and other tools are launched by a company leader, and the infrastructure is well received. The problem is that in most of these case studies of technology-driven KM programs, it is acknowledged that the tools and systems work fine, but it’s actually workers and keepers of the knowledge that lack the motivation to share and create content. And it’s not their fault. Why would they spend extra time contributing to a system unless they can see a benefit to their work or institution?
This scenario tells us that when starting a KM program, company leaders need to communicate to their staff that they are the main driver in ensuring that a company is leveraging its organizational knowledge effectively. Their ability to effectively share, capture, and create knowledge and information has a direct impact on winning new jobs, keeping business, meeting goals, and remaining competitive. The mindset and motivation must be sold and acknowledged first before the technology is introduced.
Motivation, then technology, and finally…gamification
And when the technology is finally introduced, whether it be a CRM, document management system, digital asset management system, or knowledge sharing platform, I highly recommend seeking out other strategies in motivating staff to adopt technologies. The one i want to mention and highlight in this post is the concept of gamification.
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts to improve user engagement, learning, ease of use, and evaluation. Source: Wikipedia.com
As you can probably imagine, gamification techniques have creeped into all sorts of technology interfaces to motivate its users to fulfill a task or requirement. But perhaps my favorite, all time gamification strategy is the 90’s era PC software called Mario Teaches Typing, which is essentially a computer game designed to evaluate, measure, and improve a user’s typing proficiency in a fun way.
Now that you understand the concept of gamification, I encourage you to look for it as a feature in systems and software that you currently use or are looking to acquire. I have found it to be highly effective for certain audience, and most often than not it will appeal to a large enough set of users in a community to be worth having.
Here are a few great instances of gamification i have encountered. Feel free to share yours!
- There’s a gamification module in the open source digital asset management program ResourceSpace to encourage users to add metadata to images.
2. Zurmo, an open source Customer Relationship Management system, includes gamification strategies to encourage users to create new leads, enter contacts, and find opportunities. Users compete with others in their network as friendly competition.
3. I was in a middle school mentoring program last year, and my student and I created BuzzFeed-like personality quiz for the purpose of helping his classmates decide what careers they should seriously pursue. A personality quiz maker is a tool to engage and convert people interested in learning about a subject, or themselves. It was popularized by Buzzfeed with such topics as “what Star Wars character are you?” Personality quizzes can be considered a type of gamification strategy.