Gamification is a dangerous buzzword to wield when describing your product. It’s been used by everyone from management consultants to children's educators. It’s been hailed as the solution to nearly anything! So it’s easy to laugh at the term or underestimate its effectiveness. We have had great success with gamifying our productivity product Saent, and we’ve just released a new version that helps take your productivity to the next level through points and a Leaderboard.
The dictionary describes gamification as follows: "The application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity, typically to encourage engagement with a product or service.” We’ve applied this principle from the early days of Saent. Originally inspired by the effectiveness of the Jawbone UP and Fitbit, we figured the same could apply to work and productivity… if done right, that is. The dark side of gamification is brought out when it’s used for activities that are of itself quite meaningless or boring. The government could try gamifying your tax returns, but it’s likely not something that will get your adrenaline flowing, with an eagerness to show off to your friends how well you did. Now you might think the same of work: Not every job is exciting, and does it really make sense to turn your career into a competition (if you’re not already in a very competitive work environment to begin with)? We think it does, if the right elements are gamified.
Saent is all about improving productivity for knowledge workers. We do this by encouraging and facilitating a new way of working. Based on the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, our products are built around two key pillars of the knowledge economy: focus and balance. Our points system ties into this philosophy. For example, you get rewarded for doing, what author Cal Newport calls, deep work. But you also increase your score by working in a balanced way by taking enough breaks throughout your day. On top of that, there are certain bonuses, all in line with the latest scientific findings around productivity and overall well-being. If you get into a state of Flow, you’ll start to earn extra points. But if you work beyond the 90 minute limit of peak concentration without taking a break, your points earning will quickly start to diminish. Through this approach, your score in Saent becomes a reflection of how well (not how much) you’re working.
“So what can I use these points for?” is a question we’ve heard often. We’re not handing out any prizes, and the points can’t be converted to cash. We see the Leaderboard and the points system as a tool that you or your team can put to use in whichever way you see fit. You can use the Saent focus points as a new key management metric to review during your daily standup. But you’re also free to start your own competition with rewards, for example for those who manage not to use their phones on Saturday (balance). Then there is the intrinsic reward of improving your score: the way the points system has been setup means that an increase in score equals an improvement in your work habits. What can be more motivating than that?
Go try out the Saent Leaderboard for yourself. You can download the app for free here.
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