Gamification can lead to higher levels of collaboration and engagement with teams. On many occasions, I’ve come across prescriptive workflows which completely disengage teams and those teams don’t challenge the tools or process they inherit. Gamification and customisation helps teams care and take ownership of their system and workflow to help the team unite behind common goals and have fun with their workflow.

This game template Fellowship Of The Goal has been designed to deliberately be emergent from the team. The template is specific enough to allow you to develop your own game, but will provide you with a game framework based around your team goals. It’s important that the team own the game theme and that the rules are emergent and relevant to the team structure and dynamic. This way you should see a higher level of engagement as the game is more meaningful. Prescribing a generic game system as a one size fits all can reduce engagement from the team and could be received as a hidden management layer.

The basic rules of this game are as follow (Download Fellowship Of The Goal for more information):

1. Establish A Theme

Do some research and decide on a theme with your team. Choose something the team are passionate about as this will form part of their identity. Themes should be based on topics that the team are passionate about, enjoy or believe in. They could include anything from Star Wars to Family Guy.

2. Goals And Outcomes

Get the team together and discuss where you are, what problems you want to solve and what behaviours or skills you need to develop in order to help solve them. Consider what on going behaviours you need to continue investing in to build up strengths. You don’t have to focus on bad to good, you could be moving from good to great.

3. Group The Activities

Try grouping behaviours and activities within the outcomes within the grid shown in the adjoining pdf. Use the outcomes you want to improve and have identified with the team. Activities are things which help you achieve the outcomes you have identified.

4. Positive Scoring

When you have a grid such as that presented in step 3, create a positive point scoring system. The weighting of each should reflect the behaviours you think as a team make most sense to your goals. The positive scale looks to reenforce positive behaviour which helps develop the team and deliver customer value.

5. Negative Behaviour

Now that you have identified how to collect points, let’s introduce a negative scoring scheme. You don’t need to reverse the positive grid. In the negative scoring grid you are looking for activities which are not in the positive grid that can surface, causing a negative effect on the team. Be careful not to base these around individual behaviour and do everything possible to avoid introducing a blame culture. Notice that I try to avoid any individual scoring and focus on team behaviours.

6. The Fun Bit, Applying The Theme

Now that you have defined a basic point scoring system you have the base for a very interesting team journey and the foundation for engagement. You could choose to stop here and not apply a theme and run the game based on the steps to this point. In that case skip to step 8.! If you decide to apply a theme, you can set a out on a fictional journey turning it into something a little more exciting. Using your rules, map and overlay them to the theme you have chosen with the team. Group them in context of the theme to tell a unique story to the team.

Fantasy Example :
The team are big fans of Game of Thrones and Lord of The Rings. You decide to embrace this and set about creating a fantasy theme. You now map your scoring system and goals to this environment.

7. Accumulation

Consider accumulation to encourage the right behaviours and weave this this into the theme.

8. Reflection And Story

Now that you have a theme and a scoring mechanism consider using this theme to provide a backdrop for standups and retrospectives. You could use the theme to update the teams story to start a retrospective and review. Reflecting on pains and gains in the game over the last set duration can provide a starting point for setting the scene.

9. Levels And Badges

Gamification in other domains and products such as Foursquare, Waze, Jawbone, Tripadvisor and even consoles demonstrate the significance of levels and badges. People need to stay motivated and rewards play a big part in this as they progress on their journey.! Consider coming up with a level and badge system around accumulation. For instance following on from the above theme of fantasy, set a starting value or identity such as a villager and work them up through the ranks of knighthood or warrior. This is a fun and light way to keep vision and engagement high.! When levels are reached, you should consider rewarding the team. Rewards could be things like 2 days to work on a gold card or a hackathon. It could be a team event or you could even position the reward around the level reached. For instance improving cross-fictional behaviour could be a social event.

10. Health Check And Learning

Take snap shots of your activities over a time period such as a sprint to reflect on and overall position in the game. This way you can see how you are doing and raise meaningful questions to the team to reflect on progress.

This game supported part of a workshop at Agile 2014 where the presentation set the scene for applying gasification to a card wall. For more information on the workshop please visit Gamify The Cardwall.