Increasing Agility with Gamification

Gamification is an approach where principles and practices of gaming are used in a non-game context. In this article, I’ll explore how you can increase agility with gamification.

In my work, I apply gamification in a business and team working context. I use practices from gaming to support professionals that are working together increasing their agility to deliver more business value. Adding game aspects to their daily work enables change and fosters continuous sustainable improvement.

Gamification is a great way to engage and involve people. Which is an essential ingredient if you want your organization to adapt to change and improve. Gamification strengthens agility and can give a boost to your agile transformation.

Games vs. gamification

Both games and gamification have value, but when it comes to self-assessments and organizational change I prefer to use gamification as it get’s people involved to create their own agile journey.

There are significant differences between games and gamification:

  • Games are often used to learn new things and to practice, where gamification intents to inspire and encourage behavior change.
  • Gamification focuses on the intended outcome and the results, where games give attention to the rules and the process.

When it comes to enabling change and improvement, I use gamification because it matches with the agile mindset to encourage self-organization, experimentation, and continuous improvement.

Gamification in agile self-assessments

The Agile Self-assessment Game is a gamified approach for reflection. It’s a behavioral game that helps to initiate and reinforce positive behavioral change in organizations.

Where often games have winners and losers, I prefer to play games in such a way that people don’t feel like they have “lost the game”. For me winning is not the main objective to have people play games, it’s sharing and initiating change that I aim at.

The Agile Self-assessment Game is not a game in the strict sense of the word where people play “by the rules” and where there are winners and losers. Actually, with most of playing suggestions included in this game, everyone wins the game if they share and collaborate. There are no losers :-).

I decided to use the term “game” for the assessment approach described in The Agile Self-assessment Game – The Map for Your Agile Journey, although I’m applying gamification in it and using it as a gamification tool in my workshops and when coaching organizations. I’m expecting that by calling it a game it will appeal to people and that it becomes something they are willing to try out.

The benefits that I have seen from using gamification in Agile Self-assessments are:

  • People like to play games, it brings out their natural desires to socialize, self-express, and collaborate
  • Gamification provides a different perspective and culture, which leads to new valuable insights
  • Playing games with teams stimulates collaboration and helps to build relationships
  • Gamification is a way to visualize what’s happening which helps people to align and decide
  • You can create an environment with gamification where people feel safe to speak up and be open and honest

Assessing your agility

With the Agile Self-Assessment Game teams can discover how agile they are and what they can do to increase their agility to deliver more value to their customers and stakeholders. Playing the game enables teams to reflect on their own team interworking and agree upon the next steps for their agile journey.

The Agile cards and Expansion packs for Scrum, Kanban, DevOps, and Business Agility can be downloaded in my webshop, They are PDF downloads with card images and playing instructions that can be used by teams and organizations to self-assess their agility. The card texts are based on the manifesto for agile software development and generally accepted agile principles and practices. This makes the game useful for all agile teams, whether using Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, DevOps, SAFe, LeSS or any other agile framework.

This game is also available in book format. In February 2018 I published The Agile Self-Assessment Game on Leanpub. The book bundles all information about the game into a handy ebook, it contains everything you need to do agile self-assessments. Packages are available consisting of the book and the cards (Agile, Scrum, Kanban, DevOps, and Business Agility) in English, Spanish, Czech, and Dutch.

The book and the cards in my webshop co-exist, they are different formats with similar information. They both include playing instructions and experiences stories which help you to create your own playing format.

This post is based on the chapter Gamification from the book The Agile Self-assessment Game: The Map for your Agile Journey.

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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