Gartner thinks you should play more games at work

'Gamification' is the hot new thing for creating innovation in the workplace

Every company or department that is responsible for creating innovation in what they do or in helping other groups innovate will be running part of their jobs as a game by 2015, according to Gartner.

If you're in IT you are unquestionably responsible for innovation to some degree – even if you're stuck in the 70 percent of IT work usually referred to as "keeping the lights on."

The lesson of the last three years is that if you keep those lights on effectively, but don't make it cheaper or easier to do so, pretty soon the company will decide it doesn't need you or the lights.

"Gamification" – the latest big buzzword among business-process consultants – isn't usually applied to process improvement. Usually it's focused on creating new processes or products or services, which is probably a neatly circular process at companies that actually product games for a living.

Is it possible to gamify the process of gaming or developing games?

I'll give it a try with my new one-person board game Solipsism!(TM), which is popular with shut-ins, the friendless, social-networking burnouts and the sexually repressed because it requires you to play with yourself, but not in a trench-coat-guy-on-the-playground way.

Though heavily academized, scholarified and professional-study-associated, gamification is actually a kind of phony metaphorical tag for the process of studying how people interact in specific situations. Economists use its team-based, win/loss structure to judge complex financial decisions they can't map accurately because (it turns out) the people they're studying aren't acting any more rationally or knowledgeably than you do.

Psychologists use it as a way to sound approachable and benign to the human monkeys they study by applying various artificial stimuli to see how they react and be surprised by how rational the monkeys often are, except when driven mad by either economics or psychologists.

In any case, Gartner believes so firmly in the usefulness of game-like process analysis that it is willing to let you travel to San Diego or London and pay it a lot of money to learn how to play games as an enterprise architect.

The report it produced that is undoubtedly more rational than my reaction to it, predicts more than half of organizations will use game-like structures to improve their idea-generation and product development by accelerating feedback on ideas, giving employees clear rules and goals, tasks that are challenging, but achievable, and a "compelling narrative" (a reason to be interested in their own jobs).

Sounds much more interesting as a game than it would as a set of business-process-reengineering recommendations in a three-ring binder handed over during a PowerPoint presentation by a consultant in a suit that's far too expensive to be that boring, speaking a language that sounds like English but is warped beyond the point of human comprehension by excessive exposure to whatever radiation produces MBAs.

Definitely better as a game.

I wonder if there will be a PlayStation version.

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