The APQC Blog

Gamification in Knowledge Management

APQC is hosting a Gamification in Knowledge Management virtual roundtable later this month. If your organization is using game elements in its KM program (or seriously considering it), email me to find out more about this cool knowledge-sharing opportunity. (It’s complimentary and involves no prep on your part—just a chance to share insights and experiences with peers.) However, if you’re not sure what “gamification” even is, keep reading.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics and psychology to drive certain behaviors within a target audience. In other words, if you want people to do something, you introduce competitive elements like scores and prizes on the assumption that people will be motivated to advance or “win” in the context of the game. Over the past few years, companies like Samsung have added gamification to their consumer web sites to get customers to engage with them. Now, organizations are starting to use these tactics internally to motivate their work forces.

When applying gamification to knowledge management, the idea is to get employees to share knowledge and expertise by making it fun, introducing an element of friendly competition, and shining a light on top performers. To give you an idea of what I mean, below is a description of a very simple “gamified” KM system:

  •    Employees earn points for each best practice, lesson, or content piece they share.
  •    They earn additional points when a colleague reads, bookmarks, or “likes” their contributions.
  •    Different point totals are assigned for each KM-related activity, from sharing a best practice to writing a blog post, editing a wiki page, or answering a discussion-forum question.
  •    Employees who reach certain point thresholds are awarded badges (similar to those on Foursquare) to display on their profiles.
  •    Those with the highest number of points at any given time appear on a leaderboard

APQC has known for years that top organizations build fun into their KM programs. These organizations also acknowledge individuals and teams who share the most knowledge with awards, prizes, and intangible benefits like face-time with senior leaders. Gamification is just another tool to make KM engaging and recognize people’s contributions.

The biggest benefit is that employees can see results in real time—their score or placement on the leaderboard goes up every time they contribute. The games also help employees focus on clear, incremental knowledge-sharing goals (e.g., “I want to share at least one insight every week”) instead of vague, long-term objectives (e.g., “I want to share more knowledge”). This makes KM feel like something tangible and achievable that people can fit into their busy schedules.

As I said above, if you are interested in participating in the roundtable, please get in touch with me as soon as possible. For the rest of you, stay tuned as APQC explores this topic: We’ll be publishing some new research in the next month or two.