Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gamification for your Agile Journey

Gamification adapts game concepts to nongaming situations to engage employees and motivate them to improve their performance and achieve a beneficial behavior. It rewards employees for completing performance levels with points, badges, privileges, and sometime monetary incentives. Gamification can be deployed as one of the possible techniques to engage employees as part of your Agile Journey.

The key to gamification is that it must be driven by a clear business goal with a clear outcome.  With the context of Agile, the goal with gamification is to encourage employees to become engaged in Agile, with the outcome of ‘giving back’ to the Agile community.  While your Agile journey may start with training and coaching, you eventually would like employees acting as Agile Champions to give back and start sharing their knowledge and experience within their colleagues.

As an example, let’s say you have established an Agile Education Vision with the goal of getting employees to give back to the Agile community.  As one technique, you decide to use gamification to motivate and engage employees to become Agile Champions and give back to their local community. Let's posit five levels of Agile Champion and the points needed to achieve each level:
  • Steel: 5 points
  • Bronze: 25 points
  • Silver: 50 points
  • Gold: 100 points
  • Platinum: 250 points

By achieving certain levels, a precious medal badge is earned which the employee can add to their signature line and receive an award to support the behavior, both to recognize this achievement. The vision lays out the following education elements, together with the points earned by completing each one:
  • Take the online “Agile Overview” for awareness: 5 points
  • Attend Scrum Master, Product Owner, team, or manager training per your role: 20 points
  • Take a variety of short online courses such as “How to Write User Stories” to build skills: 5 points each 
  • Attend a 45-minute seminar/webinar on various Agile topics such as “Lessons Learned from Sprint Retrospective” to understand process: 5 points each
  • Write an internal blog article and share with the internal Agile community: 25 points
  • Create and present a webinar and share with the internal Agile community: 50 points

Notice that by taking the “Agile Overview,” the participant immediately becomes Steel level. This gets them into the game which may motivate them to keep playing. Also notice that the bigger point items promote giving back to the internal Agile community. This preferential valuation aligns with the goal of giving back while building their Agile knowledge along the way.

If you use gamification, ensure the achievement is real, that it helps the employee with their work, and is aligned with your Agile goals.  Finally, please remember that gamification is just one technique within your Agile toolkit in building an Agile community and having a successful Agile journey. 

PS - to read more about how Gamification can help you in your Agile journey, consider reading Chapter 16 of the new Agile book entitled Being Agile.  


  1. I ponder this technique often... would love to hear from some real experiences - case studies of doing this gamification

  2. Cool stuff Mario. I have been using an 'Agile Journey Index(tm)' for my teams for a few years and have had some luck with it. I like your points about the clarity it provides.

    Innovation Games(R) also has a gamified belt system based on the courses you take and the games you run. Red Critter Tracker is a neat Scrum tool that gives you badges for some of your activities too:

    I think you're on the right track as Gamification is a popular technique these days. Just look at FourSquare.

    Good luck with your stuff - let us know how it goes!

    Best regards...AgileBill

  3. Good article. But what do u do with the badges/points ? Are the redeemable for intrinsic or extrinsic rewards or both ?

  4. @David, the outline that I include in this article is based on a real example. I haven't written the full case study yet.

    @AgileBill, thanks for the encouragement!

    @Imran, this depends (badges and their rewards). In some scenarios the badges were more intrinsic and allowed for internal bragging rights. In other scenarios, the top 4 levels initiated a cash reward. It depends on what motivates folks.

  5. Hi All, I found another training provider offering agile scrum certification and Scrum Master Certification. Have a look.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hello! we have plans for creating a complete tool to helps becoming agile within IT teams. Now we have implemented simple gamification mechanism, that can reward for best programming practices and is available here: GetBadges - gamification for project management tools

  8. I have tried it with my own model and it’s working well.

  9. The digital gamified learning modules can be accesses by desktops as well as by mobile devices.The user analytics like progress, scores and ranks are made available to you in the form of attractive theme-based leaderboards and dashboards.

    Employee gamification platform
    Gamified Performance
    Best employee engagement platforms

  10. Love how this gamification platform  makes learning feel like a game! Makes studying much more enjoyable."