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The value of a background deep dive & motivational exploration for a project

A Series In Design & Game-Based Learning Tools And Toolkits

In this short piece, I wanted to quickly come back to and hopefully expand a little on the previous article about company exploration, in this game-based learning series.

In the previous blog post, I had discussed how important it is to start any gamification initiative with a company exploration session. In this session you look through your organisational background, what products and services the company offer, what the team structures are and the company’s position in the market place.

For this piece, I want to return to the organisational background part. The reason for this being that if you want to or are trying to introduce a new method into your own company or to a client company, you will need to understand where they are coming from and where they are going.

In essence, we are looking at two sides of a path, the path leading up to this point: the company background, and the path leading from this point: company motivations.

Though it must be said that it may not always be necessary to do full deep dive into a company’s history but having a basic understanding is always a benefit when developing new and innovative ideas with various stakeholders. As some may be new to the company and able to accept change quickly, and some may have been with the company for a great many years, and understanding where they are coming from will help you to convince them of this new course.

History and background

Naturally one of the first things to take into account is the time and budget available for doing a deep dive into an organisations history and background. Taking on a fully holistic approach to a background exploration session can be fairly time-consuming.

One of the main reasons to do such intense research is if your gamification initiative is more directed towards organisational change. If this is the case and there are stakeholders in the initiative that have been around since the start then it can be of immeasurable use to know what occurred throughout the company’s history.

Knowing what occurred around the founding of the company, what the initial versions of the mission statement and vision were will aid you in determining the choices, decisions and path the company has taken to get to this point. As you move along the path you will see the changes, what shaped the company and how it adapted through the years to changing economic climates, consumer bases and so on.

An example of a company with an interesting history, where it often switched to accommodate the changes in the world is Nintendo. It was started as a playing card company and through its history, it owned a taxi company, dabbled in mechanical engineering and became what it is now known for, a gaming-entertainment company. If you were to look into the company’s values and mission statement you would likely see a variation in what in wanted to do at any given time. But likely though it’s view on delivering customer satisfaction has remained true since it’s founding in the late 19th Century.

Organisational motivations

The one aspect you can be sure of for any organisation is that it wishes it gain more customers and sell more products and services. If the gamification initiative is not purely about organisational change for the purposes of internal improvement, but more about external improvements, such as increasing loyalty and it’s customer base, then you will only really need to focus on the company’s current motivators.

This is not to say that its history is irrelevant, but you would only need a surface level understanding that would help you in comprehending the organisation’s current message, mission and vision. Having this understanding when you break down the message and mission, will help to guide you into forming specific and directed questions that will aid you in developing a more comprehensive and tailored gamification initiative.

You must bear in mind though that the information gained from the questions that arise from your research does not end when you know the answers. The answers will likely spawn more questions, and these will continue to help you to refine your development, both for the company and for the customers.

As I had mentioned in the previous, these two example questions can help you to make a start with this investigation into a company’s motivational levers:

  • What are the organisation’s capabilities?
  • And what are its immediate aims and objectives?

Aligning goals and motivations

The importance of the answers to these types of questions is that you will learn and understand how you can align the goals of the gamification initiative with those of the company, the stakeholders and the customers.

When doing any project, and especially with something as unique as a gamification solution, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Only focusing on one of the three above named parties will lead to disaster.

If your solution does not align with business goals, then you have wasted time and money. If it does not align with the goals with the stakeholders then it will likely never get off the ground due to lack of support, thus also leading to waste of time and money. And if it only focuses on the goals of the customers, then it will certainly be of benefit to them, but not to the company. Historically customers are more concerned in their wellbeing than that of a company.

However, if all the goals are aligned, then it is a win for everyone. Since at the end of the day, if both company and customer can symbiotically benefit from the success of a product or service then that relationship can be continued and sustained positively.

Where to start?

So, where do you start by researching a company’s history and its motivations? What questions should you be asking?

Well, I’ve put together a shortlist of some actionable questions to get you started. Please be aware though that this is not a fully comprehensive list for every organisation or every project. There is a focus on gamification initiatives and also an effort to make the questions as broad as possible. For them to be tailored and refined to your specific company’s needs, you will need to do the work for that.

But as such here they are:

  • Why was the company started?
  • What is its mission statement?
  • What is the company vision?
  • Why do employees want to work there?
  • Why do customers want to buy from there?
  • How is the company different know than from when it started?
  • What has changed along the way?
  • What is the company’s current message? How does it market itself?
  • Does the companies goals align with those of their customers?
  • What are the company’s current objectives?
  • Does it have the resources, capabilities and drive to reach those objectives?
  • Is there support in the company for innovation? Is there support for gamification?
  • What are the companies view on gamification and gamified solutions?
  • Who are the main stakeholders when trying to get a gamified solution off the ground?

Final thoughts

Once you have gone through the questions and done the research, it would be best to create a document or spreadsheet and start listing down what you (and maybe your colleagues) discovered from the above list.

Then either alone or with a team, run through the various products and services that the company offers. Then start going through some the framework mentioned in previous articles, such as SWOT analysis, and see what strengths/weaknesses there are, what threats are out there and what power you and your customers have.

This will be the first in aiding you putting together a proposal for your gamification initiative when presenting it to the leadership level in the company.

If you need further help in developing any ideas and questions then the list of resources at the end of this article can help you in this endeavour.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Do check out the other posts on æStranger.com, and do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

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