Gotta Catch ‘Em All! | Level Up Engagement With 5 Pokemon Go Gamification Tactics 

My all too brief dabble with Pokemon Go ended up with me being courteously ejected from a local store of a well known retailer.

Here’s how it played out:

Ten minutes earlier, I had been lured into the store by my iPhone buzzing. It told me that a Pokemon monster was lurking about in there. With some time to kill, I ventured in.

I held up my phone to start the hunt.

Fortunately, the Pokemon wasn’t hiding in the ladies clothing section and I wouldn’t need to recreate the “Father Ted Lingerie Escapade”!

However, I soon discovered they were located somewhere in the food section. And I eventually found it – next to the broccoli as it turned out.

I stopped in my tracks. There it was waiting for me – and it started to taunt me by bouncing around and blowing raspberries at me.

I had to capture it – now it was personal.

I had downloaded the Pokemon Go app the previous day to find out what all the fuss was about. After learning the ropes I discovered I was getting pretty good at capturing Pokemon.

I started flicking virtual poke-balls at him. And I was so taken up in the moment that I didn’t realise there was somebody standing right next to me.

I heard a polite cough. I did a double take to my right and saw someone who worked in the store. Then they said this to me:

“Perhaps sir could continue their Pokemon adventure outside. I hear Pikachu has just popped into the coffee shop next door for a skinny latte”.

“Yes, of course, sorry” was my reply. We both smiled at each other, it was a very funny moment.  I sheepishly lowered my phone and shuffled out of the store.

Not my finest moment.

I then decided it was probably a good time to uninstall the app. Which I did in the coffee shop next door as it happens. (I never did found Pikachu, perhaps he only drinks espresso?).

But this wasn’t before I considered the real application of Pokemon Go in business transformation – and in particular gamification…

Let’s face it. Driving change is tough.

Whether you are leading a small change impacting one part of the business or programme managing a major transformation programme that cuts across several departments involving different global territories, people will need  to be engaged – and kept engaged as part of the journey.

In each case, a clear strategic vision of the end state will need to be created and sold to the business, stakeholders managed and updated, plan to move from the current to the future, recruitment of a team to deliver the change, processes and systems updated, the list goes on.

And then, once it has taken place, the change needs to stick. Otherwise everything can become undone and unravel before your eyes. Back to square one.

Not good.

There are many tools and models that can be used to drive transformation but specifically what I’m talking about here is how to really engage people on the journey.

One of the big buzzwords that is really gaining ground lately is to ‘gamify’ elements of the change programme. I think there are some interesting, practical lessons from my experience playing Pokemon Go that are relevant to change gamification.

So, here are 5 tactics to incorporate a Pokemon Go mindset into transformation and change projects and programmes…

  1. Rewarding people for demonstrating the right behaviour can be very powerful. In the app, by checking into a virtual Poke-stop on my map screen i was given new poke-balls to catch new Pokemon, this allowed me to catch even more monsters. Transfer this thinking to a transformation or change programme – how about creating a simple scoring mechanism for accelerating change with your programme team through task delivery. You could have bonus multipliers for size / complexity of task, benefit deliverable impact and early delivery of tasks. Throw in some spot prizes or just the simple kudos of winning points for really engaging your team with this kind of reward thinking.
  2. Competing with others, when done in a healthy way can help everyone raise their game. I didn’t even get to the game ‘level’ of going to a virtual Pokemon gym to compete with other players in Pokemon Go, but by creating an environment where teams – be they organised by project, work stream etc. are given the opportunity to collaborate to win together, without impeding or damaging the overall transformation but instead push it forward faster and more positively can be very powerful.
  3. Augmenting reality is one of the key differentiators of Pokemon Go’s success. It has changed the game in apps. You can’t play it on the sofa or on the train, you need to be out and about. Unfortunately, not everyone engaged in change management and transformation takes this approach – you can’t drive change from your office / desk! You’ve got to be out and about in the business and in the trenches with the ‘muck and bullets’ of change flying about! By flipping this thinking and taking a Pokemon Go mindset, change will be driven, and adopted, faster.
  4. Digitally presenting feedback data to players in the app is incredibly rewarding. When i play a game like Pokemon Go where data is shared in such a brilliant way I just want to play more. I want to keep progressing to see what comes next. So channel this and use data for your transformation in beautiful ways that makes your data really ‘pop’ and keep people engaged on the journey.
  5. Engaging players is the real secret sauce here. Millions of people are playing Pokemon Go. Recent analysis indicates that users are now spending considerably more time playing Pokemon Go than using other apps such as Facebook. Why is this? There are lots of reasons. Yes there are many out there who don’t see what the fuss is about, but for many it’s got that magic “keep people engaged” element.  Translate this thinking to a typical change programme. Team members and stakeholders will often have many other projects and activities to work on that will all compete with yours for their time and energy. The takeaway for me here is to consider what you need to do to maximise engagement through the touch points of your transformation in order to keep people involved.  The big win being that they choose to prioritise as much time as possible on the project.

At the end of the day, at its beating heart, business transformation is all about engagement. To do it right “you gotta catch” all the hearts and minds of everyone in the business to succeed.

So “level up” engagement by gamifying your change or transformation programme. Game on!

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