KM and Gamification: Examples of Tangible Rewards



August 30, 2018

Our KM Conversation webinar series included a chat with knowledge management evangelist and expert Stan Garfield about using gamification techniques, including offering tangible rewards for participation in a KM program.

One gamification technique to encourage adoption of a KM system involves offering tangible rewards. According to Stan Garfield, this method can be very controversial; some people think they provide the “wrong” motivation for participating, that they are extrinsic rather than intrinsic and encourage artificial and superficial contribution, and that people will only participate for as long as you provide the rewards, etc.

Yes, but…

While there are many arguments as to why tangible rewards may not be ideal, Stan has seen them work quite well in some scenarios. You need to select them carefully within your context; there is no “one size fits all” option. During his session, Stan mentioned 10 examples of ways to weave tangible rewards into motivating people to do what you want them to do.

It’s all about outcomes

It’s important to note that rewards must be tied to the kinds of outcomes you want. Also, note that if people have to do the work anyway, it’s nice that they can take a small extra step (contributing to your KM platform) and get a tangible benefit. The rewards do not have to be costly, and they don’t have to be financial…even though they can be.

  • Goal: submit proven practices.
    • Reward: people submitting the 5 most reused win a small financial reward. *This points to quality not quantity, and applies a measurement of usefulness.
  • Goal: don’t reinvent the wheel every time.
    • Reward: 5 top project teams in terms of content reused during their projects can attend the industry conference of their choice.
  • Goal: share lessons learned.
    • Reward: for every five documents contributed (which meet standards), the individual earns a gift certificate.
  • Goal: reuse content to help win proposals.
    • Reward: those who reuse content as part of three proposals win the book of their choice. *Note that you are rewarding the use of knowledge with yet more knowledge, reinforcing its value. A virtuous circle!
  • Goal: encourage committed leadership of communities of practice.
    • Reward: those who lead a community of practice for one year win the latest in-demand piece of technology. Sure, they could buy it themselves, but this way they get something back for the time they spent during that year.

Stan expanded on this topic in his most recent book, published by Lucidea Press, Proven Practices for Promoting a Knowledge Management Program. In addition, you can watch a recording of his most recent webinar, “Selling KM: Recognize and Reward” below.

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