Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2011 - (Page 15)

LEARNING 2020 | LISA BODELL FOR GAMING TO BE A SUCCESSFUL TOOL, IT HAS TO BE RELEVANT COMPANIES PRESS ‘PLAY’ ON TRAINING GAMES an a video game actually increase your organization’s productivity and profits? In this era of computer-based entertainment, gaming metaphors and motivators are indeed scoring high in the workplace. Gaming mechanics use rewards (points, badges, levels and leaderboards) to encourage desired human behaviors. The principle of Foursquare—“check in” to a certain place often enough and earn a badge as its “mayor”—relies on GPS and a friend-finder platform, but gaming elements are what gives it traction, or “stickiness,” among users. Gaming in the Business World While the U.S. military has used video games as a training tool since the 1980s, companies like Cold Stone Creamery, Cisco and McDonald’s are investing in gaming programs to train new employees and enhance the skills of team members. Cisco recently launched six new training games, several of which are designed to teach technicians to build a computer network. In one Cisco game, employees must assemble the network on Mars—in a sandstorm. Cold Stone Creamery commissioned a video game to address a specific problem: it was losing money because workers were over-serving customers. By simulating the viscosity and weight of the ideal portion size, employees could learn exactly how much should go into each scoop. Overall scores include customer courtesy, speed of service, recipe recognition and, thanks to a corporate Intranet, employees can compete against one another. The result? Cold Stone’s most popular and effective training initiative to date. Through Nintendo, McDonald’s created a flash-based game to teach Japanese franchise owners and employees how to run a McDonald’s restaurant. The game simulates each step of the business: from the farm to the restaurant to the boardroom. It aims to teach employees practical tasks while rewarding them for multi-tasking and productivity. And according to McDonald’s, the gaming consoles are helping employees learn much faster than previous training methods. The Power of Games These successful training games are tools that spark immediate engagement and create learning opportunities without lecturing. Often, employees don’t realize they’re “learning” until they’ve already engaged in the desired behavior. And because demonstrat- C ing the value of training to an employee is half the battle—the payoff from a particular course may be months or years down the road—sticky rewards provide enough upfront motivation to overcome resistance. If commissioning a video game isn’t in the budget, can you still apply the mechanics of gaming to your training programs? Absolutely. Start by assigning point values to exercises within a learning session and establishing rewards (gift cards, free lunches, etc.) for various point levels. Create badges—the Ace of Accounting or Marketing Master—for employees who complete training requirements within the first three months of next year. Grant a title to the first department or team who attends two elective courses each. Harness the power of location-based check-ins to encourage interaction between departments and offices. Gaming techniques are powerful tools that can enhance learning—but they should be used strategically and toward a specific goal. For gaming to be a successful tool in the L&D arsenal, it must be relevant. If a game is perceived as overly time-consuming or silly, employees will reject it. In other words, keep it fun and functional. According to Gartner, Inc., an information technology research company, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will “gamify” those processes by 2015. Already, the concept of game mechanics itself is evolving. During the most recent Google Tech Talks, gaming expert Gabe Zichermann defined “gamification” as the “process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems.” So what can we expect in corporate learning from gaming’s influence? New-hire games will be used in advance of hiring to familiarize players with company products and services. Mobile devices will become a new subset of e-learning and employees will use their smart phones, tablets and iPods to extend educational activity beyond the office. While some experts are convinced that every major company will soon have a chief engagement officer, others believe that the future of games in corporate learning lies in the application of gaming mechanics and the engagement they achieve. As you look toward the future of learning, consider how these principles can enrich training and increase productivity. Game on! Lisa Bodell is the founder and CEO of futurethink, a globally recognized innovation research and training firm. E-mail Lisa. 15 Training Industry Quarterly, Fall 2011 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2011
From Where I Sit: Back to the Basics
Table of Contents
Ad Index
The Learning GPS
Work that Stretches: The Best Teacher
The Promise and Peril of Social Enterprise
Technical Training: How is it Different?
Companies Press 'Play' on Training Games
Redefining the 'e' in e-Learning
Essential Components for Effectively Training a Global Workforce
Five m-Learning Considerations for Your Talent Management Strategy
Instructional Design: Learning Meets Technology
Improving Training: Thinking Like a Game Developer
Casebook: Pfizer: Moving Product Sales Training Online
Why is Mobile Learning Not More Popular?
Tweet Suite
Company News
Closing Arguments: The Three T's

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2011