Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gamification has a Place in Business

gamificationWhy would I want silly games in my business? Won’t that just give people another reason to goof off at work? Gamification isn’t about making games, it is about applying to processes and communication the same type of techniques that keep people interested and engaged in playing games.

Wikipedia has a great definition, an excerpt below:

Gamification is the use of game design techniques[1], game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.

Before you go and jump in the pool and enlist someone to gamify all your processes, understand that in order for it to work and provide tangible benefits to the organization, the psychological and emotional rewards offered need to be in alignment with what you are trying to accomplish. Additionally the behaviors that are being rewarded need to be carefully evaluated to prevent the inadvertent reward of undesired alternate behaviors, such as “gaming” the system or introducing a type of peer competition that can be damaging for morale.


photo credit: JD Hancock / CC BY 2.0

Friday, April 20, 2012

Growing a Business is like Migrating Services to the Cloud

Green GiantWhen a business is in a transition between sizes, for example from Small to Medium-sized, all the business systems are expected to be able to grow with it at the same pace and at the same level of quality. Many don’t realize the demands of growth don’t necessarily scale well without fundamental changes in how it operates both in their management controls, process workflows, and the responsibilities of the personnel managing the processes.

The same holds true for migrating applications and services to the cloud. When applications are hosted on internally owned and managed servers, the maintenance and reliability of the hardware and software is managed by internally controlled resources. When they are moved to the cloud, organizations lose the level of control of quality and reliability unless fundamental changes to the system are made to be more fault tolerant, flexible to demand spikes, and redundant in the event of hardware failures or response times as a result of a multitude of causes, such as human errors, cut transmission lines, and power outages. Read an interesting account of how Netflix uses their Chaos Monkey to insure the best user experience even during major system failures.

On the surface, just doing more of what was always done may look like the growth process is healthy and successful, but there are probably obstacles looming just out of sight waiting for the right time to surface. A healthy dose of planning and evaluation with a multi-disciplined team can go a long way to preventing catastrophe or at the very least identifying the potential risks.


photo credit: Mykl Roventine / CC BY 2.0