As a practicing government (federal, state, local) and commercial empowerment guru and management consultant (i.e.: business development, capture administration and proposals) and Examiner columnist; every now and again my feelers are out for consultant opportunities where a lifetime of expertise can be put to good use for aspiring organizations. With skills to aid small businesses with associations to 8(a), HUBZone, Native affiliation, SDVOSB, Minority-owned, Woman-owned, etc., services are enabled at affordable rates raising the bar of performance through solutions in the guise of varied roles and contract terms. But this isn’t a story about me; it is a story about the “grey ceiling” and the future and accommodation of lead trends such as: gamification.
While on a short respite in Orlando Florida in speaking with a regional hiring manager for an AECOM derivative firm – I postured Proposal Manager capabilities. Before our meeting the fact of my being a grey was laid on the table with my suggestion age may be a deterrent and let’s not waste one another’s time if it might be, I added – “If you seek a young, gregarious, bouncy individual I’m not that person. As a grey, I am quiet . . . knowledgeable . . . a trainer . . . professional . . . and engaging as well as entertaining but not bouncy, bubbly or cutesy. Those are no longer my forte, not that they ever were but some organizations do desire the mindset of social engagement as an influencer – mine has always been more cerebral.” The company asserted the grey factor wasn’t a deal-breaker and the young hiring managers remained interested – they invited me to conference face-to-face and to meet the senior proposal director who was flying in from Colorado. She was also a grey and pretty much left the meeting when she pulled out her chair. In parting, I asked, as I often do, what was her reservation and she closed with . . . “Have you heard of gamification?”
This was an unusual close and I had heard of gamification but since I hadn’t studied or researched it or realized I was an active gamification practitioner – I answered, “No, I’ve heard about it but haven’t written any programs as solutions.” She closed the door of my potential with her organization while muttering, “You ought to look into it – it is the next big thing.”
“Hmmm . . . another trending must have,” is what coursed my mind. But I’m not a believer in every leading trend being a must have. Many become obsolete while they are still making the rounds. Often, in a lifetime of government business achievement, trends have been a topic of the day among our foray of practitioners in fields where greys created and led the ranks in many of the supportive subject matter.
So, when a group of these experts are in da’ house . . . the newest trends are a common delight because they are entertaining and provide new conversational banter where going over the proforma and “How-to’s” among a myriad of business development, capture administration and proposal remedies can become mind-numbing. Especially, where the greys actually “wrote the book” regarding current market’s practices. And, this is a typical grey to newbie dilemma, isn’t it?
So what about Greys and Gamification?
Can you teach an old dog a new trick? Are greys able to adapt to gamification?
The answer is yes!
I’ve done it! I’ve taught an old dog to perform a new trick. Point in case: my little long-haired chihuahua’s girlfriend now uses the litter box in the event of an impending accident. It works brilliantly! She was loosing status by having accidents, and her friend Lucius (the cat) was gaining points using a litter-box. Her buddy Scuttle didn’t have accidents and he remained on the leaderboard relentlessly. So to earn points, Lady (the old gal) decided to use Lucius’ litter box and rewrote content (Who uses a litter-box? Not just the cat anymore!) And, she gained followers because Scuttle decided to work with her to bury the evidence in the litter-box and began assuming her subordinate tasking, which raised her status and she’s technically surpassed Lucius because he often forgets to bury his evidence and looses points for poor performance metrics.
An old dog can learn a new trick . . . and, logic prevailing . . . if an old dog can, a grey can as well!
As for gamification, today’s greys are, after all, the gaming generation! It all started with the Greys . . . PAC MAN . . . MARIO . . . etc. Even the advent of computers belongs to the greys who have moved up every leaderboard from typewriters with carbon for copies, to green coded monitors, to virtual 3D computers visualized in the atmosphere. Greys are the gamification generation!
So just what is Gamification – in the event you don’t know you do know?
Gamification is new. Like 2010 new. It actually began in 2003. Some forms of gamification everyone is aware of: performance badges, leaderboards, levels, points, statuses, etc. These were practically applied referencing government business on GovLoop and TFCN around 2006 – 2008 circa. Gamification includes a number of psychological concepts, especially behavior, motivation, and personality where deep fluency and understanding of those concepts remains one of the most important keys to its implementation. Altruistically, the resplendent nature of gamification is somewhat reminiscent of real-time games or sport activities. The greys are not foreign to the concept of competition where gaining a badge, getting on a leaderboard, maintaining and raising a level, achieving points and status are conceptual rituals because greys have lived gamification in real life. Parents of the 1950’s and 1960’s were all about real world gamification. Greys have heard a great deal growing up about badges, leaderboards, levels, points and status throughout their childhood. We ate, drank and slept what is now a gamified reality of competition and rising to the occasion.
So . . . my answer should have been to recently acquired company representative, now AECOM employee, “Oh yes, I know gamification through and through . . . I’m a leader in gamification both old and new school,” because I am, as are many professional greys.
But why be irreverent – does gamification work?
There do seem to be benefits to gamification. And, of course, they are not universally the same. Basically, gamification results in performance metrics, which identify engagement, influence, loyalty, user content, time and the most important factor “virality.” For government (federal, state, local) and commercial contracting . . . performance metrics are classically important in a multitude of applications, which may or may not apply to winning awards.
The GSA suggests the following:
“There is an informal sense of status accorded to the employees who have the most followers, because it’s implied that those with more followers are communicating valuable information,” Casey Coleman, GSA CIO.
And, NASA engages citizens using gamification:
. . . gamification reaches well beyond the simpler business processes. NASA, for example, used a gamified platform called Planet Hunters to discover new planets. The space agency also turned to gamification to unveil Space Race Blastoff, a game on its Facebook page, to educate citizens on its history and research. By answering a wide array of questions related to technology, pop culture and NASA history, players earn virtual badges depicting NASA astronauts, spacecraft and astronomical objects. Players also earn points they then use to get additional badges to complete sets that earn premium badges.
As a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, MySpace, Pinterest, Instagram and two hundred additional social media platforms member with high follower counts, like many other greys, my knowledge of gamification is exponential. My levels of engagement, influence, loyalty, user content, time and virality remains at the top 1%, which would suggest I’m doing everything to keep a pop culture leaderboard with virality through engaging influence where end-user loyalty is defined by the application of user content and the amount of time engaged in the social platforms I proffer. When it comes to gamification – I’m an industry guru as are the predominant number of greys stemming from an information technology and/or business development, capture and proposal / technical solutions history.
Had I only known.
So for the future can greys accommodate lead trends such as gamification?
The answer is simply, YES.
Just like my old dog who re-engineered an age old activity performed relentlessly from birth . . . greys can accommodate a gamified workplace because it is an age old activity they’ve mastered reinvented to conform to a social media platform. And, those greys who are tuned in to the new socialization of reality are still playing the game(s) of our youth and therefore the result is: EXCELLENT!
For reading this story in its entirety (though not a gamification platform) each of you should reward yourself 100 pts. and pour a glass of your favored beverage right now! Raise the glass in a universal toast! Remember to stare the screen in the eye (because a good toast makes eye contact) and know you’ve earned points and are on the Examiner leaderboard right now. You can have a bonus low cal muffin and we’ll discuss treadmill points in my impending story, Gamification Law and the FTC . . . because every new trend comes a new set of rules, gamification is no different.
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Quote: “If we deliver undefined rewards of variable sizes at undefined intervals, people can become addicted,” ~ Zichermann.
Quote: “Games are the new normal.” ~ Al Gore.