Stumbled today over an interesting article from Sophie Bushwick, I started to think again about the potential of using other elements than our actual general reward-system in business. If we think about it everyone knows that the human species is a collaborative one. To live together in clans for supporting each other and to create an effective division of labour was one of our ancestors secrets to survive. Collaboration defeated competition.
Even, while acting the other way round today, this behavior is still ‘burried’ inside of us. Cooperation is central to human social behaviour. “A new study finds that when people have to make the choice instantly, their first impulse is cooperation—which indicates that generosity is innate. Only when they have more time to consider their choice do they behave more selfishly.”, says Sophie Bushwick.
Our last centuries were dominated by an economic incentive system that treated competition preferentially over co-operation. And so far, successful or not, it worked.
But circumstances have changed: Companies are complaining about a shortage of well educated employees and this means that the advantage changed from the employer to the employee.
Now, every organization has to think about how to keep and to motivate its employees to stay.
And in addition “what motivates employees” also changed.
Of course everyone needs a salary that enables one to live the life he wants to, to be able to cover the basic expenses and a little bit more. 😉
But people also want to get better…(remember the Maslow’s pyramide?) They want to learn, to get smarter, to overcome challenges and to achieve goals that have some kind of meaning for the society. Goals that can’t be achieved alone. Goals that create something bigger that we would be able to achieve alone. Why? Because, inherently, we know that this is the right way. Evolution proved it to be the right way. And because evolution used the elemination strategy for creating more effective specieses, cooperation is build into the DNA of the surviving ones.
And now the interesting part: If we are free to choose we prefer to play games that let us collaborate with others instead of games where we have to fight each others; games that use a social layer to build an emotional experience. If you look at the statistics, in general, games that ‘force’ us to use a social mechanic to overcome the given challenges are more successful and longer lasting. We love to give our expertise within games to help others. We prefer to be known as an expert more than to be known as the guy that defeats everyone. Of course there are different player-types out there with different bias but in general we are more socializers than killers.
But in business we use incentive systems exact the other way round. Is there something that science knows but business ignores? Yes, definitely. But I don’t think that they really ignore it. It is just much easier to reward a competitve behavior than a social behavior because of metrics.
But, no matter how competitive the industry is, you still need people who know to and also want to collaborate. Even in a cutthroat star system, you need team players. And you know what? The Gamers-generation (and also the digital natives) know how to collaborate. Gamers like people 🙂
So, why shouldn’t we think about how to use the psychological effect of games, concerning our human species and start to use what was build into our DNA (namely Play) to become more engaged and fulfilled while doing our work than ever before?
(Roman is the Founder & CEO of Engaginglab (engaginglab.com), a company that transports ‘game-design-thinking’ combined with ‘motivational & behavior psychology’ into reality.)
“Gamification works by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems step by step, and by taking advantage of humans psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.” – Roman Rackwitz (email@example.com)