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Advanced gamification as an enabler for collective intelligence

The idea of applying collective intelligence for strategy development in companies is to pick more brains than only the usual suspects to expand horizons, balance out bias and increase brainpower. But how do you mobilize colleagues, global teams and divisions to collaborate on a central topic? In this article we discuss how applying advanced gamification serves as an enabler for leveraging collective intelligence based on three key pillars:

  • Creating a risk-free environment to speak up

  • Creating incentives to mobilize and go the extra mile

  • Keeping it fun on top of loaded agendas

Creating a risk-free environment

An estimated 80% of people experiences barriers to speak up during meetings. This means that only about 20% of the colleagues we involve in brainstorming and co-creation actually dares to contribute. This fear originates in the risks we associate with sharing opinions: what if I’m wrong? What if I say something stupid? What if someone steals my idea? Etc. To fully leverage the potential of collective intelligence the number of contributing agents needs to be as high as possible. In order to overcome the personal fear of speaking up (or glossophobia), a safe environment needs to be created to enable consulting the knowledge of those who would otherwise stay silent.

We use an online gamified environment for collective intelligence to allow anyone to share any idea or thought without any risk. The key feature to allow for this is anonymity. All contributors are completely anonymous, successfully separating personal feedback from feedback on content and removing the barrier to speak for most people. Not only does this enable harvesting ideas from more agents, it also increases objectivity of feedback. When an executive would share an idea and colleagues would not agree, the barrier to speak up is higher if this is in person. In an anonymous online environment, contributors would not even know the roles of their online peers, removing several biases.

Creating incentives to mobilize and go the extra mile

Once we have an environment where people dare to contribute, we still have to make sure they want to. Creating incentive for a large group of people is difficult, combining multiple incentives increases the odds of actually triggering as many people as possible and needed. Our approach is typically based on three types of incentive: winning, purpose and awards.

  • Our love for games and sports competitions shows that we typically have some inherent desire to outperform our peers. Our drive and passion to win is probably the most straightforward incentive to exploit. We use leaderboards, badges and competitions to incentivize contributors and create the urge to win thereby increasing the number of viable contributions.

  • Not only do many people want to win, we also want to contribute to a clear purpose. Creating transparency in the potential impact on a global business one contribution might have, stimulates people to give it a try.

  • If people don’t feel the necessity to outperform peers, nor to contribute to a purpose, chances are high the possibility of winning an award might push them. Awards can be monetary, in the form of a ticket to a corporate event, based on exposure, etc.

Keeping it fun on top of loaded agendas

Collaborating on strategy development does not need to be a boring topic. We typically want colleagues to contribute after hours, when the alternative is to go home, grab a drink, meet friends or family, etc. By keeping our online environment light and fun we notice more people are willing to contribute. Fun aspects are introduced with funny avatars, pop-ups, engaging communication, the use of lively colors, rankings, badges, experience points etc. This, together with an attractive design triggers dopamine production and increases willingness to participate. After all, everyone is already very busy and we wish to ask some extra involvement, so we need to trigger additional energy resources.

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