Does Gamification work in a Knowledge Management environment?

I spoke last week on the topic of gamifcation with Andrzej Marczewski ‏(@daverage) and Stephen Dale (@stephendale).  Both have more than a passing interest in this topic:

  • Andrzej is currently ranked the #1 ‘Gamification Guru’ (in a US online poll) who focuses on inter alia User Types, who blogs and publishes the Gamification News;
  • Steve who has a long and distinguished career in Knowledge & Information (and who has chaired Online for a number of years) is interested in how behaviours are influenced by gamification and recently ran a well received workshop for NetIKx ‘#Gamification strategies for incentivising knowledge sharing and engagement: http://slidesha.re/1iJIYxO

I first heard Andrzej at Ana Neves’ excellent 2013 Social Now event in Lisboa where many of the presenters described how they’d used gamification techniques. It occured to me then that as communicators and marketers are increasingly using Gamification for engaging with staff and external stakeholders, so why should Knowledge Managers be different?

Fast forward 12 months and Andrzej, Steve and I are talking about whether Gamification might work in a Knowledge Management environment, the topic of Andrzej’s presentation and a joint session I am running with him at this year’s KMUK event on 11th and 12th June which I have the pleasure of co-chairing with David Gurteen.

KMUK Presentations

This session will take a look at the technique through the eyes of one of its leading evangelists and delegates will then have a chance to discuss its potential application in a knowledge management environment. Here’s the ‘blurb’

Gamification: Past, present and future – Andrzej Marczewski

  • a review of the landscape and its evolution
  • a look at current practices and examples
  • how to decide when to apply it
  • identifying and working with different audiences
  • critical success factors
  • where will it be in 5 years time

Gamification in a KM environment – Paul J Corney

Paul will draw on research being undertaken in advance of the conference to lead a group discussion prompted by Andrzej’s presentation to examine:

  • has it caught on in KM – a review of adoption across knowledge workers
  • what are the barriers and how might knowledge workers might overcome them
  • where it can be most effective and with whom?

Seeking gamification examples in a KM environment

Over the next few months Andrzej, Steve and I are going to be trying to identlfy whether examples really do exist and if not why not!  In Steve’s excellent presentation to NetIKx he unearthered a couple of great examples from the world of health including Pain Squad – the App that gamified healthcare in Canada but he struggled to identify KM examples.

Perhaps its because we associate the phrase with technology?

In my book many of the experiential exercises my colleagues at Sparknow and I developed (and are written up elsewhere) such as:

  • A day in the Life
  • Future Story backwards
  • In their shoes

are all examples of gamification – that by doing and experiencing knowledge is shared, people are engaged and behviours shift.

More in the months to come.  Keep watching Andrzej’s excellent site for a chance to participate.

 

and finally (July 2014)

Here’s the outcomes from the group sessions at KMUK of where KM’ers thought Gamification might work in a KM environment.

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‘I cried for an hour…’

The words of a Colombian American who’d been to school in England, whose family are Colombian intellectuals and whose children live and work in the USA. The psychological impact of May’s Bogota bombing on a country rapidly emerging from decades of internecine conflict cannot be underestimated. It is a setback, yet I’d back this country and the people. It is a great place, a fusion of South American and European cultures and its people have a strong work ethic and an insatiable thirst for knowledge which is how I came to be here.

The 5th Knowledge Management & Organizational Learning Summit held over 2 days attracted 200+ many of whom booked late. Colombians I was told leave most decisions such as where to go on holiday until the last minute which places a premium on contingency planning. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the country is emerging from a difficult period personal financial decisions are driven by short-term expediency rather than long term accumulation of wealth. This translates into ‘knowledge is power’ mentality that makes efforts to promote the sharing of knowledge a challenge.

Despite being the sole European and linguistically challenged I nevertheless felt part of a family. My presentation delivered in English with simultaneous translation was given to an audience of bankers, industrialists and government officials. The hour I spent in advance going through the presentation with Carolina the interpreter paid off handsomely and enabled me to run in tandem with Luisa Sucre (an excellent facilitator from Venezuela) a number of interactive sessions that revealed how good South Americans are at dialogue.

I began by asking how many had been in km for more than 5 years – about 1/3rd. How many had km in their title – about 1/5th and how many thought km had been around for more than 10 years – about 2/3rd.  This was a topic they’d clearly thought about even if it had not become an accepted discipline in the organizational hierarchy.

I was also able to garner a dozen varying views on the role of the future knowledge manager in Colombia – more of that in a subsequent posting.  The allotted 2 hours flew by (at least for me); I wished I’d had longer.

The afternoon of Day Two featured a World Café run by Zulma Sofia Patarroyo a very energetic Colombian who used the 3 hour session to surface what the delegates had learned and would take away from the event.  She began by asking each table of four to listen to each other’s learning points and then for the table ‘host’ to remain while the other three found an alternative table.  This continued for a further 2 ½ hours which seemed like an eternity to some but was enthusiastically embraced by most as I was to see evidence of the following day when meeting a delegate who had his ‘takeaways’ on the wall of his office. Jorge Enrique Merchan a graphic artist was on hand to expertly record the activities.

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My personal takeaways:

—     A very well organized event that covered the little details well and didn’t try and pack too many speakers into the two days

—     The audience was attentive and respectful; it took little prompting to get them to participate in a karaoke style community singing at the start of Day Two led by Maria Helena Magalhaes from Brasil, creating music at the end of Day One with Patricia Molla from Argentina and embracing the World Café concept with abundant enthusiasm; laughter is always near the surface of conversations

—     There is a lot of km style activity going on in South America albeit under other labels especially Organizational Learning; people see its potential value

—     The big issues organizations face are similar to those found everywhere and include knowledge retention and knowledge transfer though here perhaps more than anywhere there is a need for a structured contextual approach in order to gain endorsement across an organization

—     The use of stories to drive change and underpin initiatives is in its infancy

—     A visit to the Botero Museum where much of Fernando Botero Angulo’s work is displayed in a remarkably open manner should be an essential component of any trip to Colombia

using postcards for post event evaluation

In January as avid readers of the Sparknow blog might recall, Sparknow attended the inaugural knowledge management capacity development in Africa event in Khartoum.  As part of the follow up to that event the conference chair and organiser Dr Gada Kadoda decided to use a postcard as a way of capturing some of the delegates perceptions. It showed a picture of some of the delegates on the steps of Freedom Hall Khartoum and an invitation on the reverse to submit comments and reflections.

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What follows is her candid account of how the exercise went and the postcards used as prompts throughout the evaluation session which was held in Khartoum on February 25th.

In due course I will publish something on how Sparknow used postcards at last week’s Henley KM Forum and invite Victoria Ward who pioneered the use of this technique in Sparknow to post her reflections.

Evaluation of KMCA2012 Using Post Cards

By Dr Gada Kadoda

For conferences and workshops, a survey is traditionally used to measure satisfaction rates of delegates with the programme content, event organisation, etc. against set criteria and predefined scales, as well as allow for narrative comments for respondents to elaborate or make a suggestion. The results of these surveys are usually published as numeric percentages reflecting satisfaction levels along the various parameters considered in the survey. In as much as many of us are more comfortable with scales and their apparent clarity, one could argue that they avert expressiveness rendering them inaccurate to map a memory or a feeling of the past.

The speed by which we fill these surveys can bear witness to how much we engage our memory while filling the evaluation form for an eager organiser. However, a creative or participatory evaluation method like using post cards can not only measure the same parameters, but it will also empower participants by involving them into defining their own parameters and bring out their vivid memories, good or bad, of the event.

We recently used this method to collect memories about the Workshop on Knowledge Management Capacity in Africa that was held from 4 to 7 January, 2012 in Khartoum, Sudan. We distributed a send-a-postcard-to-KMCA call to our mailing list to write back to the organisers and as with post cards, senders are free to choose what they write. There was a low response rate (5%) which is in part due to delay from our side in sending out the call, a month after the end of the workshop!

Notwithstanding this unimpressive rate, in this article I will explore the parameters that came out from our use of post cards that correspond to some of those commonly used in after-event-evaluation questionnaires. Ratings can only be felt as you read through the selection of post cards quotes.

General event assessment (e.g. relevance of content, personal benefits or difficulties):

Thanks for the great job you did and KMCA2012 was very successful …” Walaa Mahdi (Graduate)

Thanks t all those behind that great event and I hope to continue and organise more helpful and full of knowledge events.” Abdelrahman Idris (Participant)

Good things about the workshop were the exchange of international students and the collaboration between professor, students and even business people, trust and joy moments between people, we open our minds to philosophy, anthropology and indigenous knowledge systems…” Tybian Zaroug (Undergraduate Student)

Now after attending this conference, I can talk about knowledge management to my friends and colleagues. In fact I realised that KM is very important to any scientist…” Samah Makawi (Undergraduate Student)

Actually I learnt a lot of things from this workshop in leadership and research and I am ready now to take bigger responsibilities, and as Mr. Paul said why not Sudan lead the world in KM, I totally support this and in our group on facebook KM friendship, we asked for ideas to be active and to establish a team work to achieve something in this country.” Iram Oshari (Paper Presenter)

The only problem that faced me all the time, it was a lot of interesting paper and presentations and we couldn’t reach them all.” Islam Elhadi (Graduate)

Programme rating (e.g. quality of content and activities, schedule and time keeping):

Thank you! It was a pleasure of mind to participate… I remember almost all the new ideas, the multidisciplinary yet united tribe of knowledge guards. What was most fascinating for me was the ideas on indigenous knowledge. What was striking, well, an anthropologist, a chemist, a philosopher and a political scientist … all using the same language … KM.” Omayma Gutbi (Participant)

I remember since we moved from Kassala and we entered the hall of friendship, the movement of the people inside the hall from session to session and the ongoing debate about the topics presented in the various sessions … I hope these efforts translate to reality to develop health, education, environment, government and business in Sudan and Africa.” Alzubair Hassan (Postgraduate Student)

Event organisation (e.g. information to delegates, quality of facilities):

Thanks for the great leadership and all your hard work, being at the airport for everyone, taking care of visas and all the other little things that made this such a success.” John Trimble (Keynote speaker)

I would like to thank you all for the well organised workshop. All activities were impressive.” Awadia Awad (Participant)

I found strange being asked to opine on subjects at a moment notice and without any briefing and the sanguine acceptance of Africa time.” Paul Corney (Invited Speaker)

 “Please make sure to document every single second during the workshop on video. As time goes, few things could be remembered, so documentation is a very crucial part for the future.” Anwar Dafalla (Invited Speaker)

Notable quotes from frequent conference goers …

A true international Conference …

My time Sudan was one of the most enriching experiences that i have had the pleasure and honor to partake of. Despite some late starts(!), the little hiccups and the waits, there was tremendous energy in the air and the people, all, including and especially the students, the faculty and the practitioners, many who were all three! The diversity of participants and thematic areas addressed in the “workshop” transformed and elevated this workshop into a true International Conference on Knowledge Transfer and Management. I learnt a lot, met many engaged and enthusiastic individuals, and was privy to participating in much intense and engaged discourse on empowering people and building Africa’s capacity.” John Tharakan (International Participant)

Exhilarating and free …

In so many ways, it was one of the most exhilarating workshops I have attended.  This was for many reasons:  the range and diversity of topics contained within a KM framework; the diversity of the participants—in age, nationality, gender, institutional affiliation and field, etc.; and the free nature of the environment.  This is in addition to some very stimulating papers.  As a Sudan Studies scholar of many years, I found I still had a lot to learn and was able to find myself in an area of study outside my field.  I was especially impressed with the presence of so many students and with their presentations the first day of the conference.  Including art and crafts was a tour de force and tied in very well with the goal of the organizer of considering all forms of knowledge and knowledge production.” Sondra Hale (International Participant)

There was even some post card poetry:

You set stone in stagnant water

You lead us in calm weather

You carried the truck and set road map for our thinking

Km is set as part our future mission and state vision” Elfatih Wadidi (Paper presenter)

Lastly …

What was “exhilarating” about using post cards is the freedom of expression it brings to the evaluation. These were personal benefit, good or bad things with event organisation, hopes for the future, etc. The post card writings space compel respondents to focus upon and articulate their main points which results in a meaningful rating. For example, a rating of high to a survey question on how well the event offered opportunities to meet people and exchange information, would miss opening minds to new interesting topics and perspectives, or a rating of low to programme scheduling would miss the “late starts, the little hiccups and the waits”.

In my view, post cards complement and do not replace the survey method and performance evaluations especially for regular events.  On the other hand, post cards are insightful and delightful. Remembering the workshop trip on the last day with as “I marvelled at crossing the desert without breaking an axle, the fun bus and singing Bob Marley” or “I will never forget Albajarawia sand under the moonlight”, bring vivid memories in all of us who were on that trip.

Thanks to Paul Corney for introducing us to this fun-to-use tool and many thanks to our delegates who sent us a post card. Thanks for your fine personal memories and articulate descriptions that we can tag to our evaluation report and own memories, it was better late than never!

Best wishes to all.

Gada Kadoda

knowledge management in Africa: reflections on KMCA 2012

Its 3.30am and I am sitting at Khartoum airport waiting for the flight back to Heathrow at the end of one of the most exacting yet rewarding weeks I’ve had in over 35 years of working across many continents.

Sudan challenges you: its people are warm, inquistive with an insatiable desire to learn. And yet time management is a work in progress and the ubiquitous presence of officialdom and the ongoing sanctions a significant drain on effectiveness and enthusiasm.

Despite these constraints the young are vibrant, highly intelligent and moved to laughter and song with little prompting.  The society is very oral; stories are the currency of communication. External opinion is highly sought after and there is a work ethic that is both surprising and refreshing. By way of illustration:

It’s 5.45pm on the first day of Knowledge Management Capacity in Africa 2012 conference held in the Friendship Hall Khartoum.  This inaugural event on Knowledge Management which kicked off at 8am has attracted over 500 delegates and nearly 50 international participants though I am the sole European. The timing has gone awry by some distance.

I get to my feet to begin my presentation entitled “missions and knowledge production” and having summoned water bottles and moved everyone around, ask the assembled throng in the Omduran Room what they want to do.

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By a unanimous show of hands they indicate a desire to continue and we ultimately finish at 7pm in time for a Knowledge Cafe.

The audience listens attentively and I get a lot of positive feedback.

At the Knowledge Cafe I lead a ‘table’ of young Sudanese women who are keeping up the pace.  The session eventually ends at 8.30pm some 12 hours after the day began.  It is an indication of things to come over the following two days (and nights).

The Conference Chair Gada Kadoda, a woman of astonishing capacity and vision, has assembled an impressive array of speakers and presentations: from Washington to Malaysia via the UK with a big representation from Africa. I have two presentations to give and as it transpires to facilitate the closing conference session on Saturday morning before a caravan of minibuses sets off in search of the Sudanese Pyramids.

Over the next week or so I will be drawing on some of the conversations and highlighting examples of knowledge at work in Africa; for now here are some high level thoughts after 3 days of the conference.

  • Technology I the ongoing sanctions means that some of the essential foundations for a dynamic knowledge society are absent. Software and hardware are in plentiful supply but access to the latest upgrades are restricted and effective support is difficult to come by even though maintance is included in the original purchase.
  • e-commerce is constrained by the lack of an effective payment platform such as PayPal which is restricted.  While the new regulators can plan for a time when the situation returns to normality by setting up the distribution network now, it means they are unable to encourage the growth of an industry that would facilitate a faster move towards a knowledge based economy. To illustrate the importance of e-commerce, figures just released show that over 30% of all purchases over the holiday period in the US were conducted online.
  • Communications I the size of Sudan makes the laying of cable impractical; cell phone usage represents a high percentage of the communications media and some 22 million people have mobile devices (over 2/3 of the population).
  • Knowledge (and information) sharing I ‘my data is my soul’ is a phrase oft repeated. It illustrates more than any other the challenges organisations face in encouraging professionals to part with what they know.
  • Knowledge Management I is a discipline that’s attracting interest yet their are a fair share of cynics especially among those who seek substantive method and measurement. A number of prominent organizations have initiatives in train and like the citiens of many developing countries certification programmes are highly sought after. The term remains a deterrent for some and Knowledge Sharing was more readily endorsed.
  • Collaboration I group work is an accepted part of the culture and there is no reluctance to act as the spokesperson for the group or in expressing ideas and opinions. Most people have a Facebook account of sorts yet few have heard of TripAdvisor!
  • Food I plays a huge role in lubricating tongues. But everyone sits down at the first opportunity which tends to restrict conversation to those in the immediate circle.
  • Stories travel I in the past the travellers (or Bedouin) were the custodians of stories, today that role is being increasing filled by online connectivity which places an emphasis on effective means of collection, storage and dissemination.

I had the pleasure of working alongside/talking to a number of Sudanese graduates and undergraduates a number of whom presented papers on Wednesday. Two in particular interested me: one was about a process of measuring the effectiveness of km in a private company; the other an annual attempt at knowledge transfer by the students to rural areas in which they’d identified and engaged with a local stakeholder who became their voice and ears.

Perhaps though the highlight was interacting with so many people for whom the sharing of knowledge is critical for survival; where information that stays in someone’s head or laptop might save lives; where different techniques are needed to get the stakeholder buyin and ensure sustainability.

handling cultural nuances in Asia

It’s Thursday morning and I am in Hong Kong to run the closing panel session on day two of the inaugural Online Asia Pacific held at the Hong Kong Convention Centre.

On the first day I’d tweeted

‘Difficult to assess whether audience will ask questions; only one allowed thus far per session and all been from visitors to the region’.

Despite a very convivial lunch with my fellow panellists to discuss options it isn’t readily apparent what will meet the objectives to send the delegates away with a smile on their face, with a set of real ‘takeaways’ and bring the conference to a memorable conclusion.

Having been given the remit to do what I think appropriate it is going to be a case of trust my instinct and make sure there is enough interesting content to back me up if I needed it.

After a very promising start on Day One, with 150 people attending the keynote presentation and official opening by Stephen Mak HK Government’s recently appointed Chief Information Officer, the crowd thinned perceptively for the remainder of the event prompting the thought that being seen to sign up is more important than attending.

Those who stayed the course (probably an average of 50 per session) looked like they got their money’s worth and I take the opportunity, having watched Hazel Hall perfect the art at the 2010 Online Conference, of tweeting the bits I feel worth recording.

My ears prick up when Stephen Mak suggests that HK has Communities of Practice at the heart of its drive to build a knowledge based society. This was worth a question; in the interests of timekeeping my request to speak is declined so I corral Stephen before he leaves for a more pressing engagement of putting Information and Communications Technology & Knowledge at the disposal of HK’s population – its Digital 21 Strategy! Yes he says they do use CoP’s but only for internal purposes and then among the IT community. And off he sweeps to perform the opening ceremony which involved dragons, sticks and tambourines.

An intranet consultant from Singapore then talks about an assignment in Manila arguing that an Intranet is the blood line of an organisation; the most important part of an IT infrastructure. Again I was interested since the client is Asian Development Bank an organisation we’d come to know and respect greatly a year or so back.  His premise that ‘culture is what happens when a boss leaves the room’ an interesting take on working in Asia further reinforced by an insightful presentation from a Thai energy company who impose through KPIs a requirement on their engineers to contribute to Communities of Practice.  Here’s the conundrum:

  • while workers in Asia are taught to respect their superiors, follow their directives and defer to them in conversations, do ‘hits’ or ‘contributions’ to a lessons learned database enforced via a must contribute policy represent a real change in the way an organisation is working? Or is it merely the way things get done around here and some contribution is better than no contribution?

This conundrum was vividly illustrated later in a Q&A panel which included a session on Open Source technologies:

Q. what are the reasons for OS community here not growing up? A. No evidence that people in Asia will to contribute to online forums

Which brings me back full circle to my closing session dilemma: would a very eclectic public audience of mixed race, faith and gender be willing to embrace Sparknow’s participative work-shopping approach?

Here’s what I did:

  • rearrange the room by stacking previously unused chairs to get a much tighter feeling among the delegates.
  • prepare a brief presentation with plenty of illustrations to provide a backdrop to a conversation about how information and knowledge professionals needed to adapt.
  • ask the other panellists to sit in the audience for most of the session and use them as catalysts for conversations.
  • invite the delegates to consider what their three ‘takeaways’ are from the event (including the exhibition) and then to have a conversation with the person next to them about their choices.
  • at this point my fellow panellists (Robert, Bonnie and Waltraut) and I engage with anyone looking left out and the level of animated conversation bears testimony to a willingness to have a say at least in a small group.
  • I now want to invite the delegates to voice opinions but fear asking them from behind a lectern will be unproductive. Instead I pass the roving microphone to Robert Hillard (the keynote speaker and one of the panellists who is in the audience) to give me his.  Robert bemoans the lack of a open forum for information professionals in the region.
  • rather than give it back to me I invite him to select someone else in the audience and pass the microphone on to them.  That simple act both diffuses and increases tension; everyone watches anxiously to see if they are selected but focuses on what they might say if they are. It has become much more light hearted and I am able to joke about who is next and throw in anecdotes as the mike moves around.
  • this continues for 20 minutes or so; everyone who wants to speak does; Lorna Candy the conference organiser of Incisive Media is taking note of the takeaways – a much better feedback loop than the usual tick box/score forms handed out at conference.
  • the session concludes when I invite the panellists to take their places on the podium (a rather grand description for a table at the front) and give their own summaries which talk to the resonance of information literacy and the need to adopt language that business understands.

What were my takeaways from Online Information Asia Pacific?

  • economic value of reusing public sector information in Asia is not understood though strangely the value of good curation is.
  • conversely the museums sector don’t show digital collections on their website, a real opportunity lost since every other aspect of Hong Kong life including the Ding Ding is presented virtually as streaming video.
  • laughter (not too loud) can overcome basic inhibitions and while its easy to offend an advance apology can go a long way to ensuring there is no lasting damage!
  • when serving chicken remember the breast is what Westerners like; the legs and feet are tastier and considered more appropriate.