We all try harder when there’s a prize at stake, no matter how small. The desire to win is in all of us to a greater or lesser extent and even those who wouldn’t be described as ‘competitive’ still enjoy playing.
In business, sales teams have included competitive measurement and reward to drive productivity for generations with such great effect that very few sales roles exist that don’t have some form of prize built into the remuneration package. So it’s strange that other departments haven’t created their own ways to combine play with productive working.
When developing software, some developers set up Bug Bashes in which they replace tedious quality testing with a race to identify bugs in new programs. This not only turns a painful process into a game it speeds up a critical stage in the development cycle just prior to delivery when time is in short supply.
Using games Jack Hughes founder of TopCoder has built an enormous community of programmers 180,000 strong that he calls upon to develop software solutions, awarding prizes in place of paying a conventional salary or fee. Interestingly TopCoder only employees 70 staff at its core but at any one time can have 9,000 people working on its behalf.
Creative industries tap into the playful nature of brainstorming to generate ideas and even surgeons in operating theatres find ways to lighten the mood by wearing colourful bandanas and playing music while they work. So what games could you play to engage your team and improve productivity?