Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Farhad Manjoo has an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on the gamification of the workplace.

In office gamification, employees are treated like gamers–they are measured, given points, and recognized/rewarded for meeting objectives as if you are playing an arcade game or Angry Birds.

The problem is that this is really nothing new and also not very motivating to the workforce.

Already in the Bible the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites by giving them ever crushing quotas for gathering straw and building the great pyramids.

And if they didn’t measure up, the Bible tells us that, “They made their lives bitter with harsh labor…the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”(Deut. 1:14)

You see while measuring performance is a good and important part to managing and maturing processes and the workforce, tracking people in real life with plus ups for every good thing and minuses for every mistake or failure treats this whole thing as one big game, but it’s not.

A mature adult workforce doesn’t need points and bonus time for doing their jobs, and shouldn’t be made to fear losing their jobs for not meeting their daily numbers.

Even Manjoo admits that he dreads working in a work environment where everything is measured and monitored to the nth-degree.

He says that even in a field like Journalism, he feels undue pressure to produce and that “every time I write a story that doesn’t make the paper’s most-popular list, I consider it a tiny failure. If I do that too many times in a row, I begin to wonder if I should look for a new line of work.”

Now perhaps, many of you are saying, that if you can’t perform at expectations, maybe you should be looking for another job, but the point is that performance measurement should be humane–working toward the long-term benefit of the company and the development of the employees–and not one miss and it’s “Game Over!”

Gamification software, like Badgeville, that gives points for everything from creating a sales lead to responding to a lead and converting a lead to sales opportunities is nothing short of childish micromanagement.

Employees shouldn’t treated like children working for points and prizes and titles like “Super Converter” or “Super Dealer” (like in the demo video), but rather should be treated as professionals, who work for the mission and based on an ethos of excellence, where they are committed to doing their best for the organization, and the organization is committed to developing them and making them a ever better and satisfied workforce–not making them feel like they are coming to a surveillance, tracking, and fear-inspired workplace.

Can gamification have a place in creating some healthy workplace competition and fun? Sure, but when it’s masquerading as a serious tool to engineer people to do their jobs and have a meaningful career, then someone in the C-suite has been playing Farmville a little too long.

My father used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” and employees will be far more motivated if they know you are working with them as a team to “get to the next level” rather than infantilizing and prodding them with ridiculous amounts of workplace surveillance to force them to collect more straw and build more pyramids. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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10 Vegas Fun Facts

10 Vegas Fun Facts

(A lot of poverty in Vegas too, but this guy had a sense of humor about it.)

10. Vegas has 2 million residents, but 40 million visitors a year.
9. MGM Grand is the 2nd largest hotel in the world with almost 7,000 rooms.
8. The Bellagio hotel (with the amazing fountain in front choreographed to music) cost $8.5 billion and is one of the top 10 hotels in the world.
7. The light from the top of the Pyramid at the Luxor Hotel can be seen from the moon.
6. A church on the way to the Grand Canyon from Vegas in painted in Mary Kay pink.
5. There are a pair of mountains called the Dolly Parton Mountains (at least that what our “wise-guy” tour guide called them)
4. A range of mountains looks like the face of Abraham Lincoln lying down.
3. The Hoover Dam, one of the largest government projects of the time was completed nearly two years early and a few million under budget (can you believe that?)
2. There are 600 Elvis impersonators, including a midget and a 450 pound man.
1. You can get married at the Say I Do Drive Thru for only $45!

And one for good luck…prostitution is illegal. 😉

Last one…The Democrats and Republican fought over naming the “Hoover Dam” after President Hoover, a Republican (what a surprise?)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody’s Property

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody's Property

I saw the movie “12 Years A Slave.”

I have seen other movies on slavery, such as Amistad and Glory, but none were as potent and realistic as this was.

I came out with my head full of feelings of pain and injustice, as if I had just lived through those 12 years as a slave myself.

I literally felt sick to my stomach and the room felt as if it was spinning and I could hardly breathe.

My wife said to me, “You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel bad.”

And I responded to her, “I feel bad that they (the slave owners and traders) weren’t human.”

I cannot tell the story of Solomon Northup or of the horrors of slavery any better than the movie in fact did.

But what I can convey is my shear disgust for how anybody could enslave and mistreat others the way the Black people and others throughout history were.

As a Jewish person, my own people have a history of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and this took on a whole new meaning.

As great actors as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner were, The movie, The Ten Commandments, did not show the depths of Hell of slavery as much as the breadth of Heaven of redemption.

And while the Pyramids of Egypt were built not with massively powered Caterpillar earth movers and construction equipment, but with the flesh and blood of my people under the whip of servitude 3,500 years ago, similarly the Capitol of the United States and The White House were built with Black people in chains and hung by the noose.

In the movie today, the plantation owners said they could do what they wanted to the slaves and without fear of retribution or sin, because the slaves were their property.

What is unbelievable is that anyone can believe that anybody can be the property of anyone other than G-d, the Master of the Universe, him/herself.

The slave trader in the movie, tearing apart a family and selling the mother and her children separately, when questioned on his ability to commit such atrocity, says matter-of-factly,”my sentimentality extends the length of a coin.”

For a buck, what will a person not do?

In history, we have seen individuals and whole societies cheat, steal, rape, enslave, torture, murder, and commit every treachery and treason…for a buck or even just because they could.

What is the lesson for all of us?

People can do great good in this world, but unfettered by faith, conscience, reason, or fear of justice, they can do great, great evil–and for that we can never let our guard down.

Why Memorize?

Why Memorize?

G-d, I remember as a kid in school having to memorize everything for every class–that was the humdrum life for a schoolchild.

Vocabulary words, grammar rules, multiplication tables, algebraic and geometric equations, scientific formulas, historical events, famous quotes, states and capitals, presidents, QWERTY keys, and more.

It was stuff it in, spit it out, and basically forget it.

This seemed the only way to make room for ever more things to memorize and test out.

In a way, you really had to memorize everything, because going to a reference library and having to look up on the stacks of endless shelves or microfiche machines was a pain in the you know what.

Alternatively, the home dictionary, theasarus, and encyclopeda were indispensible, but limited, slow, dated, and annoying.

But as the universe of knowledge exploded, became ever more specialized, and the Internet was born, looking something up was a cinch and often necessary.

All of a sudden, memorization was out and critical thinking was in.

That’s a good thing, especially if you don’t want people who are simple repositories of stale information, but rather those who can question, analyze, and solve problems.

Albert Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.”

But an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal by an old school teacher questions that logic.

David Bonagura Jr. proposes that critical thinking and analysis “is impossible without first acquiring rock-solid knowledge of the foundational elements upon which the pyramid of cognition rests.”

He says, “Memorization is the most effective means to build that foundation.”

As a kid, I hated memorization and thought it was a waste of time, but looking back I find that more things stayed in that little head of mine than I had thought.

I find myself relying on those foundations everyday…in writing, speaking, calculating, and even remembering a important story, principle, saying or even song lyrics.

These come out in my work–things that I thought were long lost and forgotten, but are part of my thinking, skills, and truly create a foundation for me to analyze situations and solve problems.

In fact, I wish I knew more and retained it all, but short-term memory be damned.

We can’t depend on the Internet for all the answers–in fact, someday, it may not be there working for us all, when we need it.

We must have core knowledge that is vital for life and survival and these are slowly being lost and eroded as we depend on the Internet to be our alternate brains.

No, memorizing for memorization’s sake is a waste of time, but building a foundation of critical skills has merits.

Who decides what is critical and worthwhile is a whole other matter to address.

And are we building human automatons full of worthless information that is no longer relevant to today’s lifestyles and problems or are we teaching what’s really important and useful to the human psche, soul, and evolution.

Creativity, critical thinking, and self-expression are vital skills to our ability to solve problems, but these can’t exist in a vacuum of valuable brain matter and content.

It’s great to have a readily available reference of world information at the tips of our fingertips online, but unless you want to sound (and act) like an idiot, you better actually know something too. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chapendra)