Want to Win? Make Work Feel Like Play

Author: Bryan Ritchie

For all but a few, work is work and play is play. Most of us live for the weekend when we are free (relatively) from work and can do as we please. The truth, though, is that some of us are having more fun at work than others. When organizations can make work feel like a game, or what the experts call “gamification,” outcomes improve dramatically.

Turns out this is true in many different areas. Hospitals are gamifying the healing process. The government has always gamified the military. And now companies are working to gamify production, sales, quality assurance, and customer support. The power of gamification engages a person on the work needed to achieve a particular outcome. Patients that might otherwise give up when they have serious injury or disease will often triumph in spectacular fashion when doing so results in them “winning” a game.

This same motivating power can be harnessed and applied in any organization. Winning a game makes all the members of a team more engaged on making key goals happen. Try the following to transform your organization’s work into a game:

  1. Create an ultimate objective. Think of most sports teams. All have an ultimate objective that they are playing for. It might be the league championship. It might be to get into the playoffs. For the best it will be to win the highest championship. For organizations this objective might be to be the market share leader in its industry, to be the top-of-mind association for a specific disease or cause, or to be the preferred provider of education, insurance, or legal counsel. Whatever it is, it has to be something significant enough to get people excited about accomplishing it!
  2. Have individual teams identify what they can do to contribute to the accomplishing of the ultimate objective. Each team in an organization can do something, if even only a little, to help achieve the organization’s highest objectives. Have each team figure out what few goals, if they accomplish, will contribute to achieving the overall objective. On a sports team each position player will identify what things they need to improve for the team to be successful. The same is true for your organization.
  3. Have each team create a scoreboard to track their success against their team goals. Players on a sports team are graded each week in a game review session. You should do likewise. Review the team’s performance every week to evaluate progress against team goals.
  4. Score the relative performance of each team. Create a simple “golf leaderboard” that shows how each team is performing relative to the organization’s other teams. Put team names on the left and their cumulative score on the right. As a suggestion, give four points for every week that the team is above it’s goal line, three points for being on the line, and negative one point for being below the line. This will show which teams are excelling and which are not.
  5. Validate, celebrate, and communicate the winners to the rest of the organization at every opportunity. Winners thrive on the validation of their work. This validation doesn’t always have to be public, but it does have to happen.

Winning a game is a powerful motivation to do hard things well. Human beings are wired to not only survive, but thrive. This powerful drive has been inculcated in us over a very long period of time. Natural selection has favored the winner, and we know this subconsciously. If an organization can tap into this incredibly powerful motivation, there is little they cannot accomplish.

Bryan Ritchie and James Western are co-founders of GrowthSPORT, a successful consulting company whose mission is to improve SCORES (Stimulate Culture, Optimize Results and Engage Staff) for Teams, Divisions, Departments and Organizations through the SPORT model (Strategic Alignment, Personnel Performance, Operational Execution, Results Accountability and Team Strength), which are the Five Core Elements of Success.

GrowthSPORT provides resources, tools and experienced consultants to effectively implement the SPORT performance model from companies ranging from Startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Feel free to reach out to GrowthSPORT at (801) 676-2500 or at www.growth-sport.com.


Growth SPORT
12894 South Pony Express Road, Suite 100
Draper, UT 84020
(801) 676-2500