Gamified Life: Gaming goes mainstream

It was a hot summer day and our teenagers and their friends were playing in our pool. As I observed them, I grasped how video games have affected how they speak and play. I heard Ben tell someone that they had ‘lost a life’. Kaden issued a challenge and the task was called a ‘mission’ and lack of success was a ‘fail’. An effective flip was referred to as ‘a sick combo’ and earned someone a ‘level-up’.

As a trendwatcher, I like to keep the pulse on trends which are going to change the way we live. Gamification is one of these trends. The communication in our swimming pool, a domain I once believed to be a video-game free zone, demonstrates how video gaming has also crept into our mainstream lives.

Gamification is …the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems”.[1] Practically, we are seeing this concept creep into things such as exercise (review a recent Apple fitness ad), learning (engage in brain games at or staff training (see how Deloitte Consulting is using it to teach). Those of us who are Starbucks reward card holders see elements of gamification in the way they award badges or accomplishments after the completion of certain tasks (first on-line purchase, gold star status, or sending an e-gift).

As I monitor trends, I set signposts as a means to monitor how a trend is progressing. Like roadside mileage markers, the more frequently you see these signposts, the faster the trend is developing (or diminishing). Here are a few signposts to monitor as you observe the trend of gamification.

  1. Vocabulary: Watch for an increase in daily language terms related to gaming, especially with non-traditional audiences. This will range from terms such as badges or accomplishments to levels and domains.
  2. Location Diversity: Watch for gamification in non-traditional venues. The Toy Story ride at Disneyland is an example of the predictable gamification in amusement parks. However, when you see gamification concepts being used in venues like churches or employment training centers, you know it is hitting the mainstream.
  3. Recreation: Watch for gamification concepts to enter traditional forms of recreation. Concepts such as Laser Tag, Bingo Bowling, or TopGolf are indicators that gamification is affecting old-style games in new ways.
  4. Teaching/Learning: Watch for an increase in the use of tablets, apps and games in classrooms. The increasing use of resource such as Kahn Academy, a gamified college course (Olds College) or the elementary curriculum which uses on-line games to reinforce learning  herald the acceptance of gamification.

New trends are always accompanied by both advantages and disadvantages. Strategic organizations learn to leverage the advantages. Gamification will provide many opportunities which will help organizations to achieve their mission in fresh ways.

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© Dilbet -

[1] Gamification. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from



Whose Call is This?: Creating Decision Making Clarity

Does your team understand who has the responsibility to make a decision?

A key source of office conflict is related to lack of clarity in decision making. When people have different expectations about who gets to make a decision, frustration often results. There is a simple principle that outlines the four types of decisions that can be made. Providing your team with clarity about which of these styles is being used will help eliminate frustration.

  1. Decisions I make

This clearly states that I am the one who will make the decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals and I will use the results to make my decision.

  1. Decisions I make after consulting with you

This process informs the other person that you value their input. However, it also clearly communicates that you will be the one making the final decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals for me. Then we will meet and discuss them as I would appreciate your input since you have worked on a lot of the details. After that, I will make the final decision.”

  1. Decisions you make

This provides clear instruction which inform someone that they are in charge of the decision.

“We need to decide which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to review the quotes and make a final decision. Please stay within our budget and speak with me if you have questions or problems.”

  1. Decisions we make together

This is consensus-style of decision making. Typically, all participants have equal authority in the final decision.

“We need to choose a company to cater our golf event. To accomplish this, we will meet together, review the proposals and score them. After that, we will use a voting system to decide between our top three options.”

While this seems like an amazingly simple concept, it is equally amazing how workplace conflict often stems from a lack of clarity. Consider these three examples:

o   Ryan storms out of his bosses’ office and begins ranting that he never listens to his ideas about the golf tournament. The problem: Ryan’s boss never told him that he was not a part of the selection process. As a result, he felt entitled to be a part of something that was not his responsibility.

o   Nicole is scolded by her boss for not following through on a job he gave her. The problem: Her boss never communicated that she was in charge of that decision. As a result, she was waiting for her boss to make the decision so nothing occurred.

o   The Marketing department is stuck in a meeting that won’t end because no one is making a decision about the upcoming golf tournament. The problem: No one communicated that the final decision was going to be made by the entire team. As a result, people are waiting for the boss to make a decision.

Do you have any examples of how this has played out in your workplace? Have you discovered any other simple ways to reduce workplace conflict?

Open Source Life

In June 2014 the CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, made a surprising announcement, “…in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology…Tesla patents have been removed”.[1] Most experts consider Tesla to be the global leader in the electric vehicle movement so giving away their patents is a very big deal.

As a futurist, I keep an eye on trends which are impacting our lives. The idea of ‘open source’ has been on my watch list for some time. Most of us are familiar with successful practice of open source via software development. Platforms like Firefox, Android and WordPress (which this blog is built upon), are all open source. However, Tesla’s move to release patents to their competitors is a significant move towards open source in the non-software environment. I suspect that it will be the first of many.

The decision to share patents is even more interesting when we consider it alongside another major trend, the increasingly complex world of copyright in the digital age. The information age makes it easier to access information, while at the same time, making it more difficult to copyright protect information. File sharing, music streaming and Wikipedia all exemplify how copyright is getting more difficult to enforce. In fact, some would state that copyright is already functionally dead. If you extend this copyright idea to the domain of patents, we see that Musk’s move may reinforce the concept of  the death of copyright.

I do not believe that copyright or patents will die. However, we may have reached a tipping point where the complexity of enforcing copyright can be more difficult and costly than being consistently innovative. In the words of Musk;

”When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.”[2]

In an era where patents and copyright are increasingly difficult to enforce, open source can be a strategic business choice. For Tesla, the stated advantage of this choice was humanitarian – slowing harmful carbon-based emissions. I suspect this choice will also bring Tesla long-term financial benefit (batteries are the most expensive component of electric cars and they plan to build a $5B battery factory. Ergo, more electric cars means more electric batteries). While the motive for open source will be complex, I believe that Tesla’s open source experiment will one day be viewed as a historical landmark in the open source movement.



[1] Musk, E. (June 12, 2014). All our patents are belong to you. Tesla Motors. Retrieved from

[2] Ibid.

Rules for Living in the Digital Age (According to Wired Magazine)

In the July issue of Wired magazine, they offered up their “Guide to behavior, manners and style” for those of us who live part of our lives on-line. While it was tongue-in-cheek, it provided some great tips that are worthy of sharing in this blog episode. Here are my ten favorites.

10. Yelp is a restaurant review, not an autobiography!

9. Don’t describe yourself as a guru or ninja on LinkedIn unless you read Sanskrit or kill people with throwing stars.

8. No posting ultrasound photos on Facebook.

7. You should favorite compliments you get on Twitter, not reteweet them.

6. Say no to #nofilter tags.

5. Please correct errors in Wikipedia.

4. Don’t follow brands or your followers will get ads.

3. Don’t start your Ted Talk with “so”.

2. During meetings, put your phone on the table, facedown with notifications off.

1. Do not ‘reply all’.

Credits: Wired Magazine (July, 2014). The Code: A Wired guide to behavior, manners and style. Pages 81 – 95.