A must read email from Dr. Aubrey Daniels to the CEO of a large gamification company

AdministratorEmployee Incentives Advice, Gamification

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WOW, renowned expert on human behavior in the workplace, Dr. Aubrey Daniels hit the nail on the head with this “no holds barred’ email to the CEO of a very large company specializing in workforce gamification. I am in complete agreement with Dr. Daniels. Gamification based on intrinsic motivation, no matter how well intended it is, will not work! In a nutshell, intrinsic motivation, which is based on what people feel and think, cannot be specifically observed. This makes it almost impossible to effectively reward. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation, based on what people actually do, can be observed. If you can see a behavior, you can reward it. And if you can reward it, you can reinforce and change it. Remember the wisdom, “I’m not sure what you’re feeling, but I can see what you do.”

I have included the actual email below…

…I must say that the
use of intrinsic concepts in your business model is hurting your business.
How do you increase intrinsic motivation? How would you know if you have
been successful at it? Intrinsic motivation is out of your control. All
you know is that they play or they don’t. Their verbal behavior about
the games is not irrelevant, but highly unreliable as evidence of “intrinsic
motivation.” It is unnecessary as an element in the games process.
I would issue you a challenge, let’s do a project together. You take
half and we will take half and see who produces the best pre-determined
outcomes. (I am not serious because I don’t have time for this but
I would if the stakes were right to prove the point.)

…I am afraid that if your industry doesn’t get
serious about behavior as a science, it will go the same route as any
number of management initiatives that started in a blaze of glory but
flamed out after a few years. Sorry to sound so pessimistic as I am not
against games. In my Performance Management book, I start with en example
using games. I once owned a company that is still around, Snowfly, that
built behavior concepts into what they are doing. Check it out on the
web. Brooks Mitchell, the creator, started from a behavioral foundation.

As I understand, your company is a leader in gamification.
To stay there you will need more than a strong marketing program. It is
all about behavior.

Aubrey C. Daniels
CHAIRMAN
ADI Aubrey Daniels International
3344 Peachtree Road, Suite 1050, Atlanta, GA 30326