Gamification and Knowledge Managment: Can they go together?

On 26 and 27 November 2018 the second Gamification Europe conference took place in Amsterdam. The theme "From Player To Professional" seemed interesting to me with fascinating speakers, including Dr. Michael Wu. The main focus of the conference centered on Marketing, Sales and Education (e-learning), areas where Gamification has achieved the most success to date.

In my opinion more attention should have been paid to Employee Productivity. The only speaker who addressed that subject was Mun Choong Lam, CEO of Selfdrvn.

What struck me is that there is a lot of overlap in the theories of Gamification and Knowledge Management, especially in the field of human motivation. I am a huge fan of Self-Determination Theory, a framework that was developed by scientists Deci and Ryan and explained in an accessible way by Daniel Pink in his book "Drive". Autonomy, Mastery and Relatedness as the three core elements of motivation were the main thread throughout the conference. A link was also made by one of the speakers with Dave Snowden's Cynefin Framework, namely how Gamification elements can have the same effect as "Attractors" or positive stimulus and "Detractors" or negative distractions within a complex environment.

There was also talk about the failure of Gamification projects and which aspects contribute to this. How recognizable! It is almost exactly the same aspects that led to the failure of knowledge management projects in the 1990s and 2000: more is promised than can be realized, there is too much focus on tools, processes are far too rigid and overdeveloped, and there is too little consideration is given to what actually drives people.

Gamification and Knowledge Management are two very different animals, but still: they have a lot in common and organizations pursue the same goals with these methodologies. How then can Gamification strengthen the adoption of knowledge management processes? I find that a difficult question to answer and the conference did not give me the answer either. The success of knowledge management stands or falls with Trust, whereas Gamification is precisely there a risk: it evokes associations as "electronic whip" and "Big Brother is watching you". In any case, the conference has provided me with a lot of food for thought and that is still positive.

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