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CASE - Unlocking operational excellence through gamification

In industry, the quest for operational excellence largely differentiates between 2 best practices. The more Western top-down approach where a central know-all team designs the blueprint and plan for transformation. Vs. the more Eastern bottom-up approach where all co-workers think in local-for-local incremental improvements, as intrinsic part of the company culture and processes. Both approaches however show clear limits: while in the former, the original plan never gets implemented the way it was intended, the latter has difficulty to trigger and implement more structural step-ups, transversally through the different functional and geographical silos.

We believe the key for successful operational excellence is to allow the organization within a predefined strategic frame to address the transformation collectively, create virtual teams across silos, feel empowered to take initiatives to implementation, both locally and incrementally as more structurally. To structure this process we apply gamification, combining the best of both worlds.

For our client, an undisputed market leader in the supply of integrated systems for the semiconductor industry, we have pursued a focused operational excellence program on 3 strategic axes of excellence:

  • Zero Defect Product Quality - Identify quality issue root causes and generate preventive and corrective solutions to drastically reduce dead-on-arrival events on a specific product line.

  • Efficient & Effective Field Diagnostics - Improve quality and completeness of field service diagnostic kit of a specific product line, to reach faster availability levels and accelerate development cycles

  • Customer-Centric Servicing - Rethink the current servicing offers on a core product line to address the changing competitive environment

“I had a lot of ideas but no chance to share them. The game was a great motivation for me. I hope to get these opportunities continuously. I feel we move forward.” - Winner Make it Well Inspiration Game


Venture Spirit designed its program approach using a combination of advisory and Inspiration Games, for its explorative, co-creative game dynamics. The program was positioned under the Make It Well umbrella, already present at the client and was further split in 3 streams, 1 per axe of excellence:

  • The Zero DOA (dead-on-arrival) game, where participants helped reduce the number of DOAs through structural measures, identifying (new) root causes in the process

  • The Field Diagnostics game, where participants came up with missing failure modes (HW & SW), processes/frameworks to better detect, recover & repair applications, tooling (integration) to simplify the diagnosis and increase the effectiveness & efficiency

  • The Service Well game, where participants jointly elaborate an improved service portfolio giving their customers an ultimate WOW experience across the customer lifecycle, while unlocking additional value on the installed base

Prior to the collective analyses, Venture Spirit performed an initial translation of the current state of understanding into the gamified collaboration platforms. During the games, Venture Spirit acted as sparring partner, steering co-creation to go deeper in certain promising areas, or go wider to unexplored territory.

Managers, executives and representative experts from all relevant departments and competences (Design, Engineering, Operations, Customer Service, Strategy, Sales and Marketing) were mobilized anonymously and collaborated closely on the critical topics for a period of 5 weeks (per topic). As a consequence, the entire program took 5 months to complete.


This guided quest for operational excellence was embarked upon by more than 400 active client experts and has lead to tangible results on all 3 axes of excellence.

The Zero DOA collective analysis revealed the main root causes causing defects. The pipeline of 100+ ideas for solution was further synthesized and structured in 13 priority quality enhancement projects, ready for implementation.

The Field Diagnostics reengineering revealed an entire solution tree of 40 crystallized initiatives where to improve with highest impact: skills, tools, people and processes.

The Service Well elaboration brought forward 100 ideas, prioritized on a customer value vs. core competences fit matrix. Further synthesis resulted in 15 service offers, addressing clear customer needs.


  • Acceleration of expertise sharing on a global scale and cross-functionally

  • Awareness raised on the importance of high quality standards and living up to them

  • Awareness raised on the critical importance of change, configuration, product and service lifecycle management processes with dedicated governance

  • Participants highly appreciated the chance to contribute to a major company challenge anonymously, focusing on the content first

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