Gamification: Carrots and Sticks don't work!

As stated before and proven over-and-over again: reward and punishment do not work when trying to motivate people to change their behavior. MIT did research and Daniel Pink states it in his book Drive, check out the video below for the essence of his findings in ten minutes.

Research shows that if you wish to motivate people on a ‘higher’ level than just ‘do this or that’ you need to manage three pilars:

1. Autonomy (let me try myself)

2. Mastery (let me progress in what I do)

3. Purpose (give me a reason why I should do this). Every game has objectives and challenges, that make this one easy.

In my new book ‘Playing on the Job (due next year) I will describe what ‘doing’ actually is. In my opinion, to be able to DO something, we (as an individual) need to:

1. Want (not have to) : in organizational┬áterms this is your ‘Vision’ (why do we do what we do)

2. Know how (as opposed to being ignorant or lacking knowledge) : in organizational terms this is your ‘Strategy’ or ‘Approach’ (how can we achieve our goals)

3. Can do (physically and mentally) – in organizational terms this is the execution of your sales proposition.

4. Dare (as opposed to fear to fail) – most managers lack this ability, but great leaders and great organizations thrive on this… Daring to be different, daring to take the lead, daring to try, daring to fail and daring to change will create experience. The more experienced you are, the more progress you make… This is why we challenge all our client’s employees through games to do things they normally would not do, just to try and fail… Learning by playing…


An important accelerator for ‘doing’ is context. I would never kill a chicken for no reason, but note that when I am starving, chances are I will… In games we usually use ‘time’ as a pressure to pursue progress… But of course scarcity is a good mechanic as well…

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