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Positive reinforcement to improve driving behaviors via gamification

  • By Ryan Skidmore

I Want to Play a Game. Gamification is one of those words. It sounds great to say that your company is implementing it, but deep down both speaker and listener are not really totally sure what it means, let alone how to do it. The Wikipedia page 1 will tell you far more than you ever wanted to know. In short, gamification takes the principles that make games, video and otherwise, fun and applies them to things that are traditionally not fun, like work or fitness, in order to increase productivity and experience. In a Forbes article 2, Ken Krogue, founder of InsideSales, divulges the 5 key principles of gamification, as laid out by Chuck Coonradt, grandfather of gamification, that separate a game (fun) from a non-game activity (not fun).

  • Clearly defined goals
  • Better scorekeeping and scorecards
  • More frequent feedback
  • A higher degree of personal choice of methods
  • Consistent coaching

Not included in that list is mastery and badges. Simply, being the best is fun and rewards are fun.

Clearly, the benefits of gamification are derived from a higher level of effort than simply using a beautifully trendy word, gamification, in meetings, pep talks, and company culture statements.

Just Like a Video Game.  The core to making gamification work is positivity. Around the core is wrapped a delightful layer user choice. Fun games are a choice, typically. Consulting the first of our 5 principles, clearly defined goals leave drivers knowing what ends they are aiming for and possibly why. Without clarity, driving professionally just become part of the fog of life. Better scorekeeping and scorecards enables mastery and makes it crystal clear how the driver did throughout the entire drive. Using ranking reports and dashboards can give drivers greater visibility to their performance and standings.  Without the ambiguity of everyday life, a driver can find exactly where they stand. Coupled with that is more frequent feedback, enabling drivers to master skills quickly and get more badges. Plus feedback like this is its own reward. That’s why toddlers love playing with light switches and young adults electric guitars.

People want to feel like they are in charge, thus a higher degree of personal choice of method is necessary to a non-game activity feeling like a game. When a driver picks a method to improve their safety score they own the outcome. Within clearly defined goals, better scorekeeping, and more frequent feedback, every reasonable method will have the same basic outcome, an improved driver score. Lastly, consistent coaching creates a fixed guide from authority that enables the other 4 principles to work the way they are intended. If a driver needs to slow down their overall speed to improve a low safety score, don’t chastise them for being a few minutes late for a delivery. The bigger picture is what’s at stake.

Gamification is a powerful tool that takes time and focus to implement, but is more than worth the effort required. Like most new and advanced management techniques, it also requires a waiting period to see a return on that effort. In the end, it’s more than worth it.

Game on.

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