How to Score Epic Green Wins in the Workplace with Gamification

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How to Score Epic Green Wins in the Workplace with Gamification

Ralph Thurm believes that games have the potential to create "epic wins."

Thurm, director sustainability and innovation at Deloitte Netherlands is, of course, referring not to our inane desire to play Call of Duty all day but the collective intelligence required to participate in a cloud to "simulate a world that is completely different such as world within the zero impact growth paradigm."

So, what does gamification -- the use of gaming mechanics to achieve targeted outcomes – have to do with employees and sustainability?

Take SAP's latest game, TwoGo, for example. SAP Labs Senior Innovation Strategist Mario Herger recently identified some of the games he is working on in a previous article. One of them was TwoGo, which has received growing interest since its debut within SAP. Built as a carpooling system, TwoGo allows employees in Germany to connect and matchup their routes for carpooling.

Not only does it allow users to save money and fuel consumption, it creates an opportunity for employees to interact with colleagues they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

This, according to Herger, is the true beauty of gaming.

There are approximately 500 million gamers in the world today. The population of gamers is anticipated to grow to 1.5 billion in the next 10 years.

World of Warcraft, a wildly popular game where players are given the means to save the world attracts an average gaming time of 22 hours per week, says Jane McGonigal, speaker and author of "Reality is Broken." McGonigal says, "What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real world problems?"

If we apply Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours theory of success to gaming, we have a world where teenagers are graduating high school with a virtuous expertise in gaming.

In fact, CSR journalist Aman Singh writing on gamification, cited a 2011 Saatchi & Saatchi S report that stated: "55 percent of Americans want to work for companies that use gamification as an incentive to boost productivity."

For consulting giant Deloitte, however, gaming is an emerging -- and immensely forceful -- strategic opportunity to push through sustainability and learning-based organizational development. In fact, it is honing in on a specific gaming category called "serious gaming," which refers to games developed for the purpose of non-entertainment, or largely, learning.

For Deloitte, the power of gaming lies in its ability to speed up the sustainability process within a company through direct experiencing of the gamers: What you actually do sticks best to your mind.

What appears to be the first step towards Thurm's -- and Deloitte's -- "epic wins" goal is the Deloitte Business Simulation Game, designed to teach players to create more sustainable initiatives in the business logistics and transportation industry.

Game players, among clients and Deloitte employees, play a game incorporating up to four teams of four players each that compete to create a more sustainable future.

A large piece of the learning comes after the game is played when the groups discuss lessons learned and necessary changes in strategy.

According to Thurm, the game not only challenges the learner in an active manner, it pushes them to make mistakes, consider other alternatives and then play again. Here's a look at it:




Intellectual learning aside, the Deloitte Business Simulation Game can be valuable for several other reasons as well, especially for human resources. For example:

  • Retention -- By engaging next generation employees in "shock and awe" fun versus dry analytic learning, human resources can ensure higher productivity and a loyal workforce.
  • Awareness raising -- Useful for organizations that want to start and/or broaden the sustainability commitment amongst their total workforce, overcoming sustainability as an add-on in times when the business goes well.
  • Leadership development -- Every game prepositions players as future leaders. As employees win, lose and learn teamwork, they also emerge as more thoughtful, instinctive and stronger leaders. The Deloitte game can be embedded in an existing future leaders program.
  • Stakeholder engagement -- Gaming produces long term relationships by forcing coworkers to share strategy, understand opposite tactics, and form respect for "the other side" like few other situations can, especially when directly played with other stakeholders.
  • Learning -- Creates a higher level of connectedness and stickiness.
  • On-boarding -- There really cannot be a better way to demonstrate to your next generation of employees that you respect their freedom, encourage them to have fun and in fact, partner with them to create a workplace that is both productive and constantly stimulated.

Now, what if we took this collective wisdom to create systemic change within organizations as well as outside?

Byron Reeves & J. Leighton Read, authors of "Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete," wrote "Every week millions of people -- including many of your employees -- spend hours playing multiplayer online games with a level of engagement they don't bring to work … Imagine the value if you could transfer key ingredients of game design -- and the gamer excitement and focus that come with it -- to the office."

Thus the epic win we envision is one where gaming is turned around from time-wasting to real-world saving. Rather than gamers choosing the virtual world over the real world, they would engage with reality to solve real world problems.

Photos of gamer and bullseye via