10 ways you can easily gamify your change interventions and get immediate results

10 ways you can easily gamify your change interventions and get immediate results

Gamification is the application of game elements to non-game activities.  Whilst gamification has been around for a long time, it is only recently that it has been formalised as a structured method to achieve specific outcomes.

We see the application of gamification all around us.  Yes most of the apps we use on our phones have game design elements.  However, more broadly, we can see this all around us.  Through gamification design, we can make significant behaviour changes.

Two of my favourite examples are:

  1.  Improving aim and decreasing spillage in urinals.

Amsterdam airport wanted to keep the urinals clean and reduce spillage.  They pinpointed the aimed spot within the urinal design where the least spillage happens.  What happened was that men would aim for the fly as a fun activity (or even aiming subconsciously), and thereby reducing spillage.

The fly acts as a target

2. Encouraging physical activity by taking steps vs. the escalator

In Sweden, they did an experiment to see if they could encourage people to take steps over the escalator by making it fun to use steps.  This was at Odenplan (where I used to frequent regularly on my way to bars in my younger days), a major subway stop in central Stockholm.  They turned the steps into a piano where stepping on a step would the be same as hitting a piano keyboard.  The result was that 66% of people chose the steps over the escalator.  Here is a video that shows the behaviour of people as they use the stairs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7frzYFcbqjc

You will notice that these elements are not necessarily about playing a ‘game’ per se.  Instead, they’ve borrowed elements of game design to engage people and make it more fun.  However, ultimately there is a very clear goal and clear behaviours to be achieved.

6-D model of gamification

The 6-D model of gamification is a very practical step-by-step framework to help you design an effective change intervention using gamification.  The value of this framework is that it ensures that there are clear objectives and focus before jumping into utilising one of the many gamification tactics.

These are the 6 steps to follow:

  1. Define Business Objectives – Define the goal you are aiming for.  Is it increasing stakeholder engagement scores?  Is it increasing the viewership of articles?  Or is it getting users to follow the new process?

  2. Delineate target behaviour – Define the target behaviours you are aiming to achieve.  Note that behaviours need to be discrete and concrete.  Then, decide how you are going to measure them.  For example, let’s say you want to get users to follow the new additional process steps.  What actions do you need users to perform?  How do we know if these processes have been performed?  Can the outcome of performing these steps be traced or observed?  Are these documented?  Are they easy to report on?

  3. Describe your players – How well do you know your target audience/users?  In this step, you need to clearly articulate and define exactly what they are like.  For example, what are their demographics?  How do they tend to behave?  Do they have a history of behaving in certain ways in certain situations?  If you need them to add more steps in a new process will they tend to ignore it?

  4. Devise activity loops – In this step, we are identifying the key motivations involved to sustain the desired behaviour.  Are there particular reinforcements required to sustain this behaviour?  Do we need to design feedback loops?  For example, if you need to ensure that the user performs 3 additional process steps, what triggers or reinforcements are required?  What notifications need to be in place to remind the user and motivate him/her to perform these steps?  And how do we reward those behaviours?

  5. Don’t forget the fun – This step may seem quite generic but nevertheless an important part of the design process.  People prefer to perform tasks that are more fun.  However, it is not always easy to determine what is considered fun.  It is about incorporating the element of interest and fun where possible to increase engagement.  For example, can the messaging or graphic design incorporate an element of fun?  Or can the notification or reward elements be designed to incorporate fun?

  6. Deploy appropriate tools – This is the action step.  It is about choosing the right gamification tactic to deploy your change.  There is a very long list of various gamification tactics to be leveraged.  Here, we will review 10 different tactics and demonstrate examples from The Change Compass.

Now that we understand the theory and steps required. Let’s put these into practice.

10 example of gamification elements and how The Change Compass has applied this

1.Onboarding tutorials 

The classic approach for change practitioners in implementing changes has tended to rely on training.  However, depending on the change being introduced there are more engaging ways to socialise the change.

For example, with a new system there are tools to create context-specific walk-throughs and detailed explanations that are more engaging.  These are not necessarily part of the tool design itself.  There are digital tools such as Stonly, Help Hero, as well as a myriad of others that may be leveraged to easily design context-specific onboarding.

Here are some examples how we use context-specific onboarding walk-throughs and information.

This is the context-specific guide to help users navigate the features

The Help button on the right is context-specific to provide detailed guides

The Help button expands providing detailed guidance to the user

2. Theme

At The Change Compass we love using the airport analogy because it explains the various components within the system that needs to hum for holistic portfolio change management.  Each plane is an initiative and how the airport is run is portfolio management.  The available runway is the business change capacity.  Stakeholders understand this because it’s a tangible analogy that they have experienced first-hand.  

We’ve embedded the airport theme in different parts of the application to create a sense of fun and visually more interesting.  For example, here are some examples of how we have done this.

The user experiencing the airport analogy when creating an initiative

Another example of using graphics/language to be on theme

3. Random rewards

This tactic is about creating excitement and unexpected reward to surprise users in a positive way.  Ideally, it would bring a smile to users since they were not expecting this pop-up or another form of reward.

For example, we have created various automation features to make it significantly faster for users to enter data.  And when the task is completed we surprise users with a pop-up that celebrates this task completion.

Here a pop-up animation provides a pleasant surprise/reward

4. Status/points/leaderboard

The leaderboard concept is quite a common tactic to generate engagement and in this case competition.  The idea is that those that have the highest points feel a sense of achievement and recognition.  Please note that it depends on the motivation of users and may not work in all contexts.

We have created a user community to promote sharing of practices.  In our platform there is a leaderboard that shows who has made the most comments.

5. Customisation

Customisation gives users the ability to tailor and customise their experience.  The more users spend time and effort to ‘create their space’ the more wedded and engaged they become.  Most people are familiar with the concept of using avatars as an expression of themselves.  This is another way of expressing who they are digitally.

In our application we allow users to upload their own avatars.  In keeping with the overall airport analogy, we have ready-made avatars of different airline characters for them to choose from.  Again, injection a bit of fun into the experience.

6. Challenges/quests

Challenges or quests keep users engaged and interested.  It could arouse their curiosity and through this increase their likelihood of undertaking a particular task.  It could be a question or a notification to let them know of a new feature.  It could also be quizzes or Q&A to challenge users and thereby increasing their knowledge.

7. Sharing knowledge

Building features to allow users to share knowledge and support one another can be a motivating feature for some users.  Helping others and building credibility can be intrinsic motivation for some.  After all, helping others makes one feel good.

Our Change Tribe community has been a great platform for users to exchange tips and experiences.  Different channels are setup to address different types of sharing.  For example, ‘Feedback and features’, ‘Sharing practices’, ‘What’s new’, ‘Community tips’.

There are various platforms available for you to build community for users.  It can be using your corporate Yammer platform, or others such as Slack or Tribe.

8. Voting/voice

Giving users the ability to have a voice and share their feedback can be powerful and engaging. However, depending on the platform you are using you may need to manage the types of feedback that are openly shared.  Giving users the ability to vote can also be quite powerful.

For example, at The Change Compass our features backlog is primarily determined by users and their feedback.  This ensures that users feel that they determine how the application is designed and therefore feel more invested.

9. Meaning/purpose

Having a clear and strong of meaning and purpose may seem like a no-brainer for change practitioners.  Yet this is a very important one for game design.  The most engaging games that instill a strong sense of purpose for the user, where the user feels emersed into executing on the purpose.

In the same way, designing meaning and purpose into all facets of the change intervention is critical.  Ideally, with every step of the change journey, the user can feel ingrained into carrying out steps towards the purpose of the change.

For example, in The Change Compass we have an Action Planning module where the application steps the user through the analysis of the data, key observations, patterns, and what actions to take to potentially package or re-sequence the change rollout.  This helps to directly address the overall purpose for the user in using the platform.

An excerpt from the Action Planning module to help walk users through analyses and recommendations

10. Social discovery

Social discovery is about enabling the support of users to find one another so that they can connect.  This helps to support those with shared interests or connections.  People are social creatures and we like to find others with whom we have shared interests.  Think about designing your change intervention in a way that supports social discovery and networking.

For example, The Change Compass is about sharing initiatives across the organisation and the impacts they have on different parts of the company.  Initiative drivers can discover other initiatives and how they may potentially impact the same stakeholders.  This leads to better alignment and shared understanding and therefore makes it easier to collaborate for a better business outcome.

Now it’s your turn! What are some of the gamification tactics that you will deploy to improve stakeholder engagement and ensure your change initiative is designed with a view to creating a deeply involving experience for users?

To read more articles about agile practices within change management please click here. Or, to read more about different change approaches click here.

New vs. old change management models

New vs. old change management models

A lot of popular change management models are old models, many of which have been shown by research to have limited efficacy in the business world. Never the less, some of these models are still referred to as the core ‘pillars’ of change management.

What are newer change management models that have been shown by research to have better validity? Refer to our infographic on what’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’. To read up more on these new models refer to our articles below:

Self determination theory.

Fogg model to behaviour change.

Applying human centred design to change journeys.

Change Outcome Design Success? One LEGO brick at a time!

Change Outcome Design Success? One LEGO brick at a time!

Change Outcome – Virtually all organisations are undergoing change. Especially right now, with the impacts of Covid, companies are now challenged with multiple layers of driving change simultaneously. What is applicable in this situation is not about a particular methodology of implementing a change program. It is all about implementing simultaneous changes, at the same time. There is no luxury of just focusing on one change at a time, the result of competitive, industry, and environmental challenges.

As change practitioners we work closely with our colleagues in Operations to get ready for, implement, and fully embed changes. So how do our colleagues in operations view and manage change initiatives?

Operations as a function is focused on managing performance and delivery to ensure that the business runs smoothly, with little disruptions and that performance measures are achieved. Operations is focused on resource management, efficiency, and achieving the various operational indicators whether it’s customer satisfaction, turn-around time, average handling time, or cost target.

READ MORE: Top 7 challenges faced by change practioners in generating insights from change data

When times are hectic and there is a lot going on with multiple change initiatives, the key focus for Operations is on managing people capacity. Key questions to consider would be “Do we have sufficient time to cater for the various changes?”, and “Will we exceed our change saturation level?”. This is a critical question to answer since the business still needs to run and deliver services without negative change disruptions.

From an Operations planning perspective ‘change capacity‘ is often reduced to the time element, especially those impacting frontline staff.

For example:

  • What are the times required to reschedule the call centre consultants off the phone to attend training?
  • How much time is required in the team meeting agenda to outline the changes that are being rolled out?
  • What is the time involvement of change champions?

Though these are all critical questions and clear answers will help Operations plan better to face into multiple changes. However this is not adequate. There is more to planning for multiple changes than just focusing on the time element.

Using the lego analogy to manage multiple changes

We all know LEGO as kids. To build a car we start one brick at a time and see how we go. We experiment with different colours, shapes and sizes. We make do with the bricks we have and use our imagination to come up with what a car would look like. Sometimes we get stuck and we may need to tweak our bricks a little, or sometimes start from scratch.

It is the same as implementing change initiatives. In order to take people along the journey, we implement a series of activities and interventions so that our impacted stakeholders are aware, ready, committed, and embed the change. The design on the change journey is the process of determining what LEGO bricks to choose. There is no short cut. It is not possible to build a building without each necessary brick to raise the building up. In implementing change, we also need to lay out each step in engaging our stakeholders.

McKinsey studies over decades have told us that one of the most critical factors to focus on in ensuring change outcome success is clear organisation-wide ownership and commitment to change across all levels. This means that when we design each change brick we need to ensure we target every level of impacted stakeholders.

For example:

Team Leaders: How often do we want Team Leaders to talk about the changes to their teams prior to the roll out? What content do we want them to use? Do they know how to translate the message in a way that resonates? Do we want them to tell compelling stories that talks to the what, why and how of the change?

Managers: How are managers made accountable? What metrics are they accountable for? What mediums do we want them to use to engage their teams? What are the consequences of not achieving the outcomes?

Senior Managers: Through what mediums do we expect senior managers to engage their teams about the changes? How do we ensure that they are personally accountable for the success of the change? How are they involved to ensure they own the change?

Looking at the above you can see that for complex change there may need to be a lot of bricks in place to ensure the change outcome is successful!

Going back to the issue of facing into multiple changes, how do we play around with the bricks to ensure that multiple changes are successful? The same way that we play with LEGO bricks!

  • Look at the colours of the bricks. Do certain colours belong together? When we look across different initiatives, are there similar or common behaviours that can be better linked together to tell a compelling story? Do they support the same strategy? Can there be a joint-campaign for these changes?
  • Is the overall LEGO structure going to be intact? What are the impacts of the various changes happening at the same time in terms of focus, performance and change outcome? Have we exceeded the likely ‘mental capacity’ for people to stay focused on a core set of changes at any one time? Will the pieced-together structure collapse due to having too many elements?
  • Look at the sizes of the LEGO structures. During implementation when we have both larger and smaller initiatives being executed at the same time, will the larger ones overshadow the smaller ones? If so what are the risks if any?
  • Re-jig or re-build parts of the LEGO structure as needed to see what it looks like. In a situation where we want to see what the changes look like before we action it, it makes sense to visualise what would happen if we move timelines or change implementation tactics

Example of data visualisation of ‘re-jigging’ change implementation timeline with The Change Compass using different scenarios.

Change Outcome

Just like in building LEGO, for change initiatives we need to be agile and be flexible enough to play with and visualise what the change outcome could look like before pulling the trigger. We also need to be able to tweak as we go and adjust our change approaches as needed. In facing the multitude of changes that the organisation needs to be successful, we also need to be able to play with different implementation scenarios to picture how things will look like. Each brick needs to be carefully laid to reach the overall outcome.

Careful consideration also needs to be how all the bricks connect together – the analogy that the change outcomes across initiatives can be determined by how we’ve pieced together various pieces of LEGO for them to make sense, and result in the ownership and commitment of stakeholders.

Change Deliverables Structure

Change Deliverables Structure

Have you ever wondered why change management deliverables are structured and sequenced the way they are?

Deliverables are defined as the data that is put in use in every activity in a change-management. Besides activities, deliverables can form an integral part of any change management project. 

There is an inherent logical flow from which change deliverables feed into the next. This means that subpar quality in the deliverable earlier on happens if the work is inadequately carried out. Also, this will likely flow into the rest of the deliverables.

Change deliverables start out very high-level. Earlier in the project development lifecycle, there is a lot of unknown details. Moreover, there are lots of questions that cannot be answered about the nature of the change. More details presents itself as the project progresses through each phase. Therefore, the change practitioner is able to populate and document various details. Including what the change means and how stakeholders will be impacted.

Eventually, each change deliverable contributes to the next, resulting in a detailed change plan. The change plan is a culmination of a detailed understanding. Also, it’s an assessment of the impacted stakeholders and what the changes will mean to them. Therefore, the respective change interventions that are critical to transition these stakeholders from the current to future state. Communications and engagement plan as well as learning plan also form a core part of the change plan.

Along with the change management process, they create a system for managing change. Good project managers apply these components effectively to ensure project success. Whether it’s a sudden change of personnel or an unexpectedly poor quarter; Change managers are adaptable enough to apply the appropriate changes to your plan to accommodate your company’s new needs.

For more details about the structure and flow of change deliverables download our infographic here.

Demonstrating the value of change management through behaviour realisation

Demonstrating the value of change management through behaviour realisation

Behaviour Realisation – As the world continues to struggle with Covid we are starting to see the financial fallout with businesses closing doors and others undergoing significant cuts to stay afloat.  Around us, we see the effects.  The front page of New York Times has been showing what life is like with Covid around the world.  Those who are still in lockdown and those getting used to wearing face masks as a requirement.  For the change practitioner, we need to braces ourselves for the myriad of financial implications in this challenging environment.

As companies start to tighten their belt expenditures is the first to come under fire.  Project and initiative investments are naturally reviewed, consolidated, and cut to try and save money.  Large companies typically invest millions to billions to execute on their strategy, maintain competitiveness, and improve the business effectiveness.  Typical cuts in the project world translate to cutting project funding which means that change practitioners like other project professionals may be in the firing line. 

As companies start to focus on the critical operations of the business the frequent question that gets asked is “what is the value of change management?”.  “Can we save cost by cutting change management?”.  Managers would already have a preconception of the value of change management when making this decision.

The challenge then becomes what is ultimately the ‘proof’ to the value of implementing effective change?  Many will argue that it is that employees are more engaged, managers are communicating the right messages, that employees have the right skills, and that they feel that they are ready for the change.  However, ultimately, a project has a set of benefits it is targeted to achieve and the question then becomes what ‘proof’ is that the benefits have been achieved. 

For a lot of the work that change practitioners are involved in the ‘proof’ is the change in the behaviours from A to B.  For example, undertaking different conversations with the customer, operating a different system, selling a new product, reporting on incidents, following the required steps in completing a form, etc.  Ultimately the change in the behaviour results in the targeted benefits being achieved whether it is improved customer experience, cost savings, efficiency in operating a system, or generating greater insights through new data.

What are some of the ways to demonstrate that we are setting the course for ultimate behaviour realisation?

Clear identification of core behaviours

To be able to implement behaviour change we need to know what behaviours we are focused on changing.  The trick is not to try and come up with an exhaustive list of all the various types of behaviours that need to take place in the end state.  Instead, focus on the core behaviours that will make the most differences in achieving the ultimate benefit.

For example, what are the core 2-3 behaviours that leaders need to display in the end state to ensure those insights are captured and utilised to make better business decisions?  It could be being confident in interpreting the data and using any system prompts as required, highlighting the insight generated in planning meetings, and using the insight to make better decisions that result in a better outcome for the organisation.


Behaviour realisation need to be measured and as we all know “what get’s measured get’s managed”.  Behaviours may be measured based on a survey, observation, system reports, etc.

Ongoing tracking

In order to successfully embed the new behaviour into business-as-usual ongoing tracking is required.  Tracking ensures that the status of the behaviour change becomes visible and therefore becomes a goal to be focused on. 

Tracking does not need to be cumbersome and overbearing.  It could be as simple as incorporating the reporting into an existing weekly team meeting or a monthly planning meeting.  It could also be a system-generated report that is sent to managers.

Our ultimate challenge as change practitioners in driving behaviour changes becomes even more crucial during these difficult financial times.  We need to constantly demonstrate how our work directly links to benefit realisation.  This may require stakeholder education.  Are your stakeholders clear in terms of the importance of behaviours in reaching the benefits?  Do they understand the design that has been in place to drive impacted groups toward the end state?

To find out more about driving behaviour realisation & change please go to our Ultimate Guide for Behaviour Change.

The Change Compass

Learn how The Change Compass deliver results in managing complex, multiple changes.

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