Originally posted 10/09/2012 on the Bunchball blog:
“Execution is the ability to mesh strategy with reality, align people with goals, and achieve the promised results.”
— Larry Bossidy, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
I often turn to this quote when I’m asked to explain what we do. One of the most important functions of the Digital Strategy Team here at Bunchball is to help our clients put a plan together on which they can execute. We help our clients take the broad promise of gamification and apply that toolset in the service of a specific goal, within a particular environment. There’s never a lack of great ideas going into a project and we’re here to help our clients take those inspired concepts and turn them into actionable plans. So at the start of an engagement, we move swiftly from theory and strategy to the component tactics which serve the project vision.
In the transition from idea to action, the following recommendations will help you lay a foundation to successfully execute on your gamification project.
State your objectives. Put your goals front-and-center. For what purpose are you employing gamification? List what you’re trying to accomplish and whenever there’s a question about whether or not you should do this or that, come back to this list. If the idea in question doesn’t further your objective and/or doesn’t provide a significant benefit to the user experience it is likely a distraction that you can do without. This can be a helpful exercise at many points in the project and is especially handy if reality dictates the need to reduce scope or make choices about what to move to a different phase. I’ll often recommend posting the stated objectives somewhere highly visible so everyone has a clear point of reference and is rowing in the same direction.
Define it. Summarize clearly what the project includes. This can be an extension of the objectives, but provides more detail about who will be interacting with the gamified experience, where & how they’ll do so, and other details to help communicate the scope. You might think of this as the project elevator pitch to help the core team (and others within the organization who might be peripherally involved) remain in alignment.
Assign Roles & Responsibilities. Make sure it’s clear who-does-what. Assign a Project Manager. Provide ownership opportunities, accountability, clear goals and status reports. Your team will thank you.
Include your tech stakeholders from the start. Your tech team has a wealth of great ideas - so welcome them into the planning conversation. Since an idea is only as good as its technical feasibility, run your creative concepts by your tech team to ensure you’re working on project components that are both compelling and realistic. (More on the creative soul of the engineer: http://www.nczonline.net/blog/2012/06/12/the-care-and-feeding-of-software-engineers-or-why-engineers-are-grumpy/ )
Use visuals. A picture is worth… you know the saying. Make sure you’re clear about the gamification components you’ll use, their layout and how/where people will access them. Wireframes? Mock-ups? A user experience flow document? Do you have an architecture diagram you can point to? If not - draw the systems involved and how information will flow between them. These tools quickly get everyone on the same page and act as an ongoing reference point during deployment. Here are a few resources that might help:
Organize & collaborate! Make sure all this good work is easily accessible. Our clients commonly use products such as Basecamp. Here are some additional options http://pm-sherpa.com/features/basecamp-alternatives/
You’ll notice these suggestions aren’t exclusive to gamification. The same rules of preparedness can apply to any web project. So whatever it is you’re working on, make sure you take the time on the front-end to reconcile your theory with reality, get people rowing in the same direction and focused on results. Here’s to making it happen!