Author: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Harrin, FAPM, from GirlsGuideToPM.com
Are you struggling to get busy stakeholders to engage with your project or change initiative? Then perhaps it’s time to consider gamifying your project.
Yes, let’s apply gamification to project management, and specifically to your stakeholder engagement activities.
What is gamification?
Gamification gets people to take action using the techniques and mechanics of games.
So why is it relevant to us on projects? We need engagement on projects, because without it, as project managers, we can’t get people to do what we need them to do, especially in a matrix environment.
Gamification techniques can help engage stakeholders. If we blend together the concepts of engagement and gamification that gives us ‘engagification’.
Engagification in a project context is enhancing stakeholder engagement through gamification techniques.
Let’s be honest: gamification techniques won’t work in every situation, but adding them to your toolbox will bring more fun to your projects and more opportunities for engagement.
The Five Principles of Stakeholder Engagification
#1: Track your steps
Show people where they are in the journey for the project, and help them visualize how much progress has been made and what is still to do.
- Create milestone charts
- Use a project roadmaps
- Number communications e.g. ‘Message 1 of 3’
#2: Take small actions.
Get small engagements like asking a question and receiving an answer before you ask for large ones.
This is based on the concept of foot in the door technique which talks about getting someone to make a small commitment before asking for a larger one and is a way to influence people’s behaviour. Try to make it easy for people to say ‘yes’ to your request for support for your project.
- Ask questions
- Provide a template answer where they only have to fill in the blanks
- Use voting buttons on email
#3: Create feedback loops.
Games give you immediate feedback. Did you pass the level or not? Do you advance or not? Make it possible for people to provide feedback on how the project is going as well as their involvement in it.
- Use apps for project retrospectives
- Use surveys
- Ask for feedback informally
#4: Keep it simple
Keep your project communications simple and without assuming prior knowledge. Tailor where you can so your messages are relevant to the audience.
- Stick to one message per communication
- Use checklists
- Avoid asking people to login to get access to basic project communications: make it easy for them to engage with the project
#5: Make it special
Celebrate success and progress. People like to be rewarded for their contribution – most people don’t expect it, but love it when it happens. And it’s easy to do. Games do this all the time, as you get access to a new level or you unlock something unexpected for your character.
- Celebrate project milestones
- Say thank you to the team
- Mark team birthdays in some way
- Do something fun for no particular reason
Hopefully that has given you some practical, simple suggestions for adopting the mechanics of games into the way you engage and communicate with stakeholders.
For more suggestions and practical tips on how to put the principles of stakeholder engagification to use on your projects, watch my webinar for PMI Ireland on the topic.
About the author:
Elizabeth Harrin is the author of Engaging Stakeholders on Projects: How to Harness People Power and the blogger behind A Girl’s Guide to Project Management. She provides education and mentoring to project managers, helping them juggle their projects and ditch the overwhelm.