The game of gamification

JoystickLast week I supported and attended my first IOIC Conference in Bristol. The three days were brilliant and one of my highlights was the session on gamification. Hosted by Tim Hall from Cognify the room listened intently to his overview of how gamification can be used in business, properly. Then we played a little game ourselves and I asked Tim to pull together his findings to share with you here.

Over to you Tim:

The game of gamification

I had the pleasure of presenting some of the theory behind gamification at 2013 IOIC conference last week and was very fortunate to have a room full of friendly and professional communicators (especially for my first public speaking gig!). Also included for first time was an exercise that I created to demonstrate the effects that game mechanics have on audiences. So, a newly created gamification workshop and a hundred strangers, what could go wrong?

Well nothing….In fact, the exercise gave some startling results and insight into how people behave using even the simplest of game mechanics.

The exercise was in two parts – the first was an individual achievement activity that used a simple objective and a sprinkling of completive spirit to obtain an initial benchmark result.

The second part is where it got very interesting. In the second part, I introduced team achievement using the same activity, but this time thickly laid on the competitive spirit. In this half, each of teams could influence the outcome of the game through a team colour scoring mechanism.

My first observation was how eerily quiet the room was during the second activity; it seemed that the opportunity of influencing the whole game gave everyone so much focus and determination they had little room for conversation.

I then noticed the team on the table directly in front of me collectively agreeing to hide their results so they wouldn’t draw attention from other teams, and in turn protect their score. According to Bartle gamer psychology, these individuals displayed the classic ‘killer’ gamer trait, individuals who thrive on competing with others and bending the rules of play to ensure their success – it couldn’t have been anymore enlightening.

While I find my observations interesting, they are nowhere near as compelling as the cold hard numbers. The total room results showed a marked increase of over 61% in the second part of the exercise. Even taking a little poetic licence from self-scoring into the equation, it’s still a huge uplift in productivity. Time for gamification workshop mark II, I think!

The future’s bright…

The annual IOIC conference drew to a close at lunchtime yesterday after two and a half days discussing how we future proof our profession. This was the first IOIC conference I have attended and it was great to be part of the team organising the event. I was dubious about the three-day itinerary with evening sessions on the Wednesday, a full day on Thursday and then a morning session on the Friday as this was a lot of time to take out of the office – but it was worth every minute.

Another conference talking about the future was always going to be tricky but for the first time we spent the whole time talking about exactly that. We discussed the power of storytelling, gamification, social networks and what we need to do to develop ourselves for the future.

Cascade to conversations
It comes up when you we talk about the future and this conference was no exception. Moving from the corporate voice to the employee voice is where our profession needs to get to where we can facilitate and enable conversations between employees. The days of pushing messages out and broadcasting them to the masses is over. Don’t get me wrong, we will always need to push messages out but we need to be able to give people the chance to comment and discuss these messages in an open space.

Death of the survey
This is the third or fourth time I have sat in a conference and heard that the annual employee engagement survey is dead. This is all well and good but when the HR Director of the CEO wants to see the ‘state of the nation’ it is not an easy thing to say no to. I asked the experts on Thursday how we can move them away from these and got some great advice; find out why they want to do the survey. If it is to tick a box then don’t do it, also find out what employees think about doing it. If it is a survey that allows you to benchmark against other companies and rank yours in comparison this might be important to your audience and is therefore worth doing.

Embrace the technology
The ipadio team gave us a great demo of the power of video and the mobiles we have in our pockets. The rise of user-generated videos is something we should start to embrace and with their technology that allows you to upload that video instantly to social networks it allows you to create and share content quicker than ever. With social taking centre stage as we discuss the future the ’email is dead’ phrase runs through. I’m not convinced – I use email a lot as I communicate with people outside the organisation and our ESN wouldn’t allow me to talk to them in that space.

When trying to change behaviour use the power of social networks. You can get a message to thousands of people so quickly and you can put the message in the hands of the audience and ask them to pass it on – the power of peer-to-peer.

We heard a great case study from the FT about how they have launched their digital strategy. The integration of channels shows just how you can get it right and their Digital Learning Week to engage and educate their teams is inspired. Use video and learning sessions with people and create a space for them to revisit that content so they can continue to learn.

When designing a new platform for your internal audience find out what they want to know, not what they think of the current intranet or what they want from the intranet. Relevance and local content is king.

Social media fear based on security risks but underneath it’s really about the fear of disengagement. When did we ask for an ROI for using the telephone? We shouldn’t be asking for it with social either. Make the leap and once you’re in the network you will understand the power of it. It’s time to get over age and generations as a factor. It’s about attitude, not how old you are; some university students are leaving too scared to tweet. Managers and social is still a battle; they shouldn’t be monitoring conversations on internal social networks – they should be part of the conversation.

The importance of face-to-face
A startling statistic that 50% of events are created and delivered within three months! As someone who likes a plan this absolutely shocks me. I know that we often have to move quickly and adapt to the business needs but 50%?! Further research said that most people use live events for leadership engagement and as a channel in the strategy and communications process.

Talking in person allows people to understand the tone of voice and the body language – giving you the chance to see and hear feedback.

We had a great session finding out more about the importance of voice. We make a decision within 6 seconds about a person based on their voice and we judge voices based accents. Scientifically there are three things that affect the voice: volume, clarity and how interesting your voice is. And how interesting your voice is depends on pitch, pace, pauses, tone and inflection. When recording your voice message smile because it changes the tone of your voice to make it softer and happier! I enjoyed this session because we so often spend time looking at the content and messaging of our face-to-face events and so little time on the voice delivering that message.

Become a trusted advisor
Gone are the days of being the police and controlling the messages. We need to become advisors to our senior leaders and the business and work with our stakeholders to add value to their projects and strategies. When supporting out leaders we need to coach, report on trends, give them a voice and add value to the strategy.

Decide what you want to be
Internal comms has various roles and responsibilities in different organisations. The panel discussion on the Wednesday evening created great debate about where we sit in the business and what we do. If you want to be tactical  and just post the news from the business on the intranet that’s ok, but admit it. If you want to be part of the strategy then work hard to position the function there. Where should it sit? Does it need a seat on the board? will always bubble around the industry. The panel made a great comment asking what IC brings to the strategy. The other functions round the board table set the strategy and internal comms positions and communicates it – what does it shape or decide?

It’s not just what we do it’s also about our function and how we structure it. The future for us lies in the art of communication not just the structure and process of how we do it.

The power of storytelling
We have been telling stories for 27,000 years and we are pretty good at it. Brooke Kinsella MBE opened the conference on Thursday to tell us how she has raised the issue of knife crime after the death of her brother years ago. The Ben Kinsella charity has set up an exhibition to educate people about the impact this has and through video, stories and art she has raised awareness and changed behaviour. The story has to be told by someone who is authentic, honest and open. Painting a good narrative needs to meet the needs of the audience, be relevant, vivid and vibrant and cynic-proof. Take learnings from Hollywood; characters, plot, conflict and resolution and if a picture paints 1,000 words a metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures.

Internal Vs External
The difference is no more. After a lot of discussion about it over these few days and before at other events, we seem to be accepting that the distinction between internal and external comms is no more. Sure there is still a need to look at audience segmentation – employees, suppliers, clients, customers, investors – but we need to work together more than ever – especially as social networks start to play more of a role inside and outside business.

Gamify your content – it’s not just about badges
This was an intelligent session and made us all realise that gamification is not just putting badges on an intranet. Learning about the different gamer profiles that exist; explorer, achiever, killer and socialisers. The badge idea only appeals to the achieve gamers – all the others are left behind. We should use gamification to drive people to do things to be part of something and with 31 million active UK gamers we need to tap into this market.  We need to be a bit more playful with communications so it is more consumable and engaging – it’s time to stop taking our role so seriously!

Love a few takeaways and quotes from an event so here were my highlights:

  • Don’t fight fire with fire, fight it with water and communicate calmly and openly without anger
  • You don’t need to believe in yourself to empower people and impact change. You just need to believe in the message
  • Twitter is the best tool to engage with the next generation. The power to get the message out there is huge
  • Changing behaviour takes time – sometimes u[ to 3/5 years
  • Listening is just as important and talking. Empathy helps you to relate, listening objectively is a key skill
  • Behaviour on Twitter (or any social network) should be similar to that at a dinner party. You wouldn’t arrive and walk up to someone and talk in their face!
  • Never forget the importance of ‘why’
  • The art of communication is the language of leadership
  • To survive in the future we need to be leaders, followers and change agents
  • This is not an Information Age. It is an age of networked intelligence
  • If you always do what you’ve always done you always get what you’ve always got

You can view videos from the event here and a full storify here

User Generated Video – letting the genie out of its bottle

With only a few weeks to go until the annual IOIC Conference Mark Smith, Founder and Owner of ipadio (sponsors at the event) took some time to tell me (and you) a bit more about where the video trend is going and what you can expect to see from them at the event. Check out this video to see Mark in action showing you what he is talking about below…

It’s generally recognised that great quality corporate videos can do more to enhance a brand than most other media put together. The mix of moving picture, fat beats, smart dialogue and the inevitable voice over by Alexander Armstrong can move the most stubbornly cynical colleague to positive action.

But it’s a wee bit expensive. I first commissioned a 30 minute training video when I worked as an Environmental Manager in a large engineering company back in the 1990’s, I was told the rule of thumb was a grand a minute. Extensive research today (okay so I rang a few pals still doing that kind of work) suggests that’s not far off true today.

But in that time two fundamental things have changed: smartphones popped up and bandwidth increased. So most of us now carry in our pockets a device with a many mega pixel movie camera and a connection that means video can be popped online in a matter of seconds.

That doesn’t of course mean we’ve all just become Martin Scorsese, if your lighting is poor, your hands as wobbly as a 1970’s TV celebrity when there’s a knock at the door and your thumbs over the mic – you will not be winning any awards any time soon.

However with the right kit and a tiny bit of training the costs for corporates to get video in and out of their teams is incredibly cheap. So it was with great pleasure that we’re launching a new way of collecting and distributing UGV content at the IoIC Bristol Conference – where, on the opening evening, I get to share with a willing audience (I will be providing the most free drinks by the way!) our experiences as official suppliers at the London2012 Games where we supplied 50 athletes with apps that allowed them to record little video vignettes of their ‘behind the scenes’ experiences at the greatest show on earth. 700 videos and 500,000 views later we reckoned we’d cracked it!

What’s special about the IoIC event is that we will be launching our new IOS apps specifically tailored to Internal Communicators – which allows you to collect audio, phone casts, video, photos and even submit articles on pads, pods, phablets, tablets, phones and pretty much anything with a keyboard.

I’m also bringing a full on studio with lights and backdrop to capture those precious behind the scenes conference moments.

I will of course be doing that whilst dressed as a genie 😉

Dr Mark K. Smith, CEO
Founder, owner and free drink provider from – who help people reach their hard to reach.

Time to future-proof your internal comms

This year I have been working with the IOIC to pull together the content for their annual conference in May. There are so many conferences out there these days that claim to look at the future of internal comms but I am really proud of the work we have done to get this agenda together. Led by Suzanne Peck, the team have been working with industry and agencies across the UK to find the best case studies and the best people to talk about the future of internal comms. I am passionate about the fact that this should not be communicators talking, but business leaders and function heads who we all work with every day.

More details of the programme are here but a bulleted overview is also below – anything take your fancy?!

Wednesday 22 May (evening)

  • Masterclasses: three ‘speed’ sessions to bring you up to date with the future outlook
  • Panel debate: how do we futureproof IC? Hear from Directors for Change and Transformation, and HR directors and colleagues from Marketing and Brand about the skills they expect from their IC partners in the future and how they see our, and their, roles being mutually beneficial.

Thursday 23 May

  • Brooke Kinsella, MBE, talking about engaging an audience in the dangers of knife crime. How she targeted this audience on a subject that is both personal and on the agenda of the Government
  • How the FT is adapting internal communications for a digital age. I cannot wait to hear about this as I have already some information about what they did and I already want to do it in my organisation
  • Engaging the London 2012 Games makers with Linda Moir. Hear about engaging a volunteer workforce with probably more messages than we could dream of!
  • Digital a la carte. Hear from three people who implemented different digital solutions into their organisations; Jive in Deutsche Bank, Yammer for UK Trade and Invesment, Sharepoint at Coca-Cola
  • Framing the future with Deborah Hume who will be exploring the strategic role internal communications needs to play in business
  • The psychology of gamification. As a key trend for 2013 we all need to find out a bit more about this ‘buzz word’ and what it can really mean for our businesses
  • Cisco engaging with Gen Y – as a millenial I am always fascinated by what we are ‘branded’ and how we will lead our organisations in the future
  • A bit of learning: how to use the voice to influence. We are all very good at commenting on other people’s communication style so any opportunity to learn and develop ourselves is something I will be grabbing with both hands

Friday 24 May

  • Ethics and Severn Trent Water. Andrew Gardner, Head of Employee Engagement, will be joined by Isabel Collins from Radley
    Yeldar to talk about how Severn Trent faced up to the contravention and the steps they took to make things better
  • How AstraZeneca developed and empowered its people managers to thrive in a world of unprecedented change
  • Engaging through low-cost digital solutions. With budgets always being squeezed and costs of digital solutions sounding high facing the challenge of new tools with no money is always tough
  • Leading a disparate workforce – NHS Employers. As an internal communicator with an audience of offline teams this is an area of industry we always seem to forget at conferences
  • Information sharing in a connected world with Euan Semple – having heard him speak a #thefuturestory yesterday I am already looking forward to hearing from him again

The conference closes at 1330 on the Friday and is being held in Bristol. If this is enough to make you sign up, find out more here

Remember, remember the month of November

What a month! November has been a busy one with the CIPR Inside Conference, Putting Employees First, which I was lucky enough to attend (and speak at), attending and supporting Nick Crawford from Engage Group at an IOIC London event on how to launch Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) and then only this week I attended the IOIC 30 under 30 event, also hosted in London.

I have scribbled notes on everything and rather than post multiple blogs on each event I have combined them all into one here, with key learnings, top tips and some congratulations to my fellow 30 under 30’s!

Putting Employees First

It’s a great statement but what does it actually mean? When we talk about putting employees at the heart of the business how do we do that and what should be doing in the future to secure an engaged audience. This was the topic for my first CIPR Inside event hosted at the Oval in London on 7th November. Chaired by the delightful Kevin Ruck, the event saw 12 speakers from across the globe take to the stage to share insights and ideas about how we can all engage our teams a little better and how we can use social media to do so.

The future, what does it look like?

There were some bleak answers to Max McKeown’s question about the future but we got there in the end. Opportunity is the word that sprang to my mind and one we should really focus on when we think about what is ahead. Max’s presentation involved lots of great images and writing on the white board that was the set, here are some of the my highlights:

  • You’ll never find the right idea if you never let go of the wrong idea
  • There are different types of people inside your organisation. Identify the mavericks and the yes men and work with them through times of change – they all come into their own in different ways

It’s time to be brave with social

I think most of us at the event understood the very loud and clear call for us to be brave. We have talked and talked about doing social inside an organisation and whilst it is clear there is still a long way to go, we need to start doing something!

Rachel Miller did a great session on social following her role in the collaborative book  Share This  which launched earlier this year by CIPR. Rachel did a survey pre-conference about how internal comms pros use social media and shared all the results with us during her 20 minute slot.  To view all the results, check out Rachel’s blog.

Alignment or Engagement?

There was an interesting session on the Alignment Factor from the Reputation Institute which went into some detail and science around aligning employees to the business message and strategy. I’m not sure alignment is the right word and would probably link this more to just engagement (alignment feels a bit militant).

Spencer Fox outlined some key phases to ensure engagement (alignment) in your organisation:

  1. Know before you go: What are you trying to achieve and why
  2. Revealing support and resistance: find your influencers and blockers and work with them
  3. Action plan: initiatives and comms plans
  4. Tracking progress: KPI measurement and making sure you have some success factors

8 Top Tips for Fast Tracking Employee Engagement

This was my topic on the day so here are the 8 tips I shared with the audience:

  1. Have fun. It’s not always about engaging people with an initiative, do an Easter Egg hunt in the office just because it makes people smile
  2. Take people with you. Whatever you are trying to do, take them with you every step of the way
  3. Be the expert. We talk about leaders not understanding social etc. but we need to be experts in our field to advise and be trusted
  4. Talk their language at every level. Know your audience in a meeting and talk to them in terms they use and talk about their expertise
  5. Face to face is best. To engage people, to get their trust you need to see body language and hear tone of voice and get some face time with those in the business. Social can only do so much
  6. Integrate new channels into a mix and make sure you have a strategy. Bringing random new tools in because you think you should won’t engage your teams. They need to know what tool is for what and why
  7. Network inside and out. CIPR Inside events are brilliant for sharing ideas but make sure you take the time to network inside your organisation as well
  8. Why. The main part of my section talked about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle theory and that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Tell people why you do what you do.

Getting Started with Enterprise Social Networks

Hosted by IOIC London and organised by Joe O’shea this event saw internal comms pros from across London come together for an evening of wine, nibbles and chatter about how we launch these sorts of tools in our business.

The team at Speak Media wrote a great blog to capture the event and as I co-presented with Nick I’ll let them tell you what people took away from it.

One thing I found fascinating? I asked everyone to stand up and those that use Twitter to stay standing. Most of them did which surprised me… I then asked those that hadn’t tweeted in the last month to sit down and most of the audience did. How can we say we use something if we don’t use it regularly? And how can we expect our employees to engage in social tools when still so many people don’t outside of the workplace….

IOIC 30 under 30

The 30 under 30 are the exceptional group and the future leaders of the industry according to host Steve Doswell. I was delighted to be honoured with being on the list and congratulate everyone else that was there on the night:

Andy Bacon (E.ON UK)
Ellie Bringes (AXA Wealth)
Mathew Butler (Make It Media)
Hannah Brocklesby (Scarlett Abbott)
Neil Burgess (RWE nPower)
Sophia Cheng (Simply Communicate)
Alan Coates (44 Communications)
Caroline Cohen (Blue Goose)
Katie Coleman (The Co-operative)
Caroline Dawson (National Grid)
Rhona Deb (Capita Life & Pensions)
Alistair Dewar (Lloyds Banking Group)
Helen Deverell (Sequel Group)
Oliver Forrester (CW Content Works)
Heather Griffiths (Gatwick Airport)
Ben Heppenstall (Trinity Mirror Regionals)
Sophie Hewitt (Capita Life & Pensions)
Sarah Hodges (Ernst & Young)
Laura James (Peverel Property Management)
Rebecca Mercer (Turning Point)
Gary Moss (AB Comms)
Sophie Quartley (Aster Group)
Chloe Shanahan (AVEVA Solutions)
Victoria Stuart (Post Office Ltd)
Vija Valentukonyte (Barclays)
Harry Waddle (University of Nottingham)
Alice Waterman (Marston Group)
Fraser Wilson (University of Nottingham)
Emma Woodward (Siemens)

So what will December hold? Don’t forget to check out The IC Crowd and you may have already seen we are organising Christmas drinks on 11th December at a venue to be announced shortly!