We all know about the enormous challenges to stay motivated doing something over the long term. And it is even more difficult to set up an environment where we can keep others to stay motivated. The crux of the matter: We are talking about a human being and this alone makes it an epic challenge because every individual person needs to be adressed on a different emotional level to rise motivations. And how many individual employees are involved in your oganisational processes?
And even the motivational factors of one person change over time depending on his skill-level, the challenge, the way he is feeling on the day, and more and more.
So, what to do?
Is there something like a ‘common denominator’ that can be used as a starting point for a strucutred process for instituitions, teams, governments, enterprises, and more to address as much people as possible to get/stay motivated?
Yes! Or like Marigo Raftopoulos said it during a conversation some days before: “Neurologically we’re all hard wired the same way.” Of course this is no surprise, right? Let’s face it, if by evolution or divinely inspired, we are all in the same boat ;-). And what we all have in common, is that our species could survive all these past challenges by being able to adapt to changes, right? And being able to adapt to changes is nothing else than ‘learning’. So, ‘Learning’ has to be mentioned as one of the secrets of our survival.
This calls for the ability to learn and to increase our skills. So, evolution has build it into our DNA that our brain is being flushed by dopamine as we are doing successful predictions, choices or actions.
“In nature, we learn to repeat behaviors that lead to maximizing rewards. Dopamine is therefore believed to provide a teaching signal to parts of the brain responsible for acquiring new behavior.” (wikipedia)
The survival benefit of the dopamine-reward system is building skills and adaptive responses. And these are still requirements nowadays, aren’t they?
It is proven that dopamine is one of the main triggers to do something:
“The thing to remember about dopamine is that it’s not at all the same thing as pleasure,” says Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who looks at dopamine in a cultural context in his book, Satisfaction. “Dopamine is not the reward; it’s what lets you go out and explore in the first place. Without dopamine, you wouldn’t be able to learn properly.” – Discover Magazine
But how to use this intrinsic motivated reward system?
To answer this question, why not ask Mother Nature to find out how She is doing it? If the mission is ‘to survive’ and learning is the best way to do so, how did Nature managed to get us to learn? She achieved that by creating a scenario where it is ok to fail. Because that is the first rule of learning, right? Fail, try another way, fail again, try another way, succeed, yeah 🙂
Aaron Dignan writes in his book: “Play is nature’s learning engine. There’s a deeper social chemistry in gaming than most people think.
If you’re not playing you’re not learning,” says Dignan. “Games induce a state of flow; this idea of getting into a state of flow is very important.”
That’s it why we enjoy gameful situations. We are hard wired to them. And by learning from games how to get us in this kind of state where we are able to stay focused over a long time, being totally engaged in the activity and are open to learn, think, try, and perform better, we can start to think about how to design processes in a way that can unfold our full potential.
That’s the idea behind applying game elments and game-design-thinking to activities with non-game-context’ to engage users 🙂 Gamification is not a buzzword developed by marketing-agencies; it is the acknowledgement that there is something that science knows but other areas (like industries) still ignores.
So, why now?
Technology enables us now to measure and give feedback on what’s going on around us in real-time & almost everywhere and over the past decades genetics, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and others have made great strides in understanding the inner working of the human mind. They are giving us a better grasp of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, predispositions, character traits, and social bonding.
It is time for a business environment that is rather human centered that activity centred. And perhaps Gamification can help us to progress in this direction.