“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

Gamification can create a sense of "social pressure"
Image Source: stockunlimited.com


What follows is one of my post that was published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. 



“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

The value of letting people know what you know

“Social”, in an “inside-the-firewall” perspective, is often related to sharing information, sharing knowledge, as well as creating a greater degree of transparency.

This includes, often, having a personal profile, filled with your skills and work experiences, along with, maybe, something about your personal interests, etc.

All so that others can see who knows what and can make contact with you if they feel that you know more about something than they do.

I am a great advocate of transparency…why not “advertise” what you know? Others can benefit from it.

That’s the great thing about Social – it offers a great opportunity to learn from others while at the same time allowing others to learn from you.


Also having the ability to, electronically, shout out loud, (to no-one in particular), “I have a problem with xyz. Can anyone help me?”, and then get a response from an answer from a colleague, who is not necessarily located in the same office, or building, or country, is valuable.

Everyone helping everyone else.

Encourage the Sharing

Take this one step further, and introduce some “gamification”. Let people earn points or badges depending on their involvement in helping resolve problems, or on how other people grade the persons work (documents, or whitepapers, that they have edited, stored in a content management system).

Then we let “the people” decide the value the individuals bring to the table.

Check this out:
Delicious' tasteful reaction to negative feedback

To further encourage these individuals, provide a Leader board that is available for everyone to see.

This way it is obvious to all who the “rock star of the month” is, and provides a way to drive others to contribute, to earn those points, and raise their status.

It sounds like an excellent way to get involvement and as a way of sharing knowledge.

Is it always good?

But what happens when you have those people who are just as smart as all the “rock stars”, who have oodles of knowledge and experience, and who do their job extremely well but are just not the outgoing type. They’d much rather operate away from the glare of the spotlights.

Should these people be “judged” in comparison to the more “I am my Ego” types?

Should these people feel awkward or even embarrassed because they are listed as number 437 on the Leader board?

It is not similar to the adolescent way teenagers would be judged whether they are “Cool”, or not depending on their popularity.

Even the ability, in many systems, to “Like” specific content can be used for “evil”.

On the one hand, it allows you to use it as a way of “bookmarking” (for yourself) content you found valuable. On the other hand, if it’s made public that a particular piece of content is very much “Liked”, what does that say about the other material (and the authors) present?

Really “Gamification” should not have a place inside the firewall.

I know that it has existed years before it was even called “gamification” (in the form of the ‘employee of the month’ or similar internal processes in place), but what is the real value in creating an artificial source of motivation? Shouldn’t the motivation be a real one?

Check this out:
Team members should not be indispensable

As I mentioned, I think that being transparent is a great way of sharing knowledge.

And knowledge sharing is a great way to learn.

It’s when that sharing of knowledge is compulsory, in an aggressive, chest-beating kind-of-a-way, is what I disagree with.


Want to learn more?

Below is a selection of resources that I personally feel are relevant to this blog post, and will allow you to get more in-depth knowledge. I do earn a commission if you purchase any of these, and for that I am grateful. Thank you. (Important Disclosure)