When the documentation experts at IT Glue talk about documentation culture, we talk about teams that want to document their assets and processes. When you work with well-documented environments, you can hardly imagine going back to any sort of substandard documentation. This is the point of documentation zen, but to get to this point you have to have a well-documented environment. In other words, to get the point where teams are intrinsically motivated to document, they must be extrinsically motivated to document. This is the answer to the question of “why gamification?”, and it’s because you need to get a certain level of documentation mastery to sustain that mastery, and gamification is one of the most effective techniques to get you there.
Why Gamification Works
There are specific elements contained within game design that specifically trigger motivators in humans. These elements are effective because they reward people for their competence and autonomy, which are strong motivators for most people. What we’ve found is that gamification can help create triggers for the types of internal rewards – call those rewards validation or just call them dopamine hits – that create stronger motivation.
Aligning Elements with Business Objectives
Gamification as a tool in businesses is powerful when management or ownership aligns the game elements with specific tasks for which the completion is valuable to the business. In this case, creating and completing documentation. If there was no particular culture of documentation before, the rewards can help to change the way the team thinks about documenting – specifically by replacing the negative associations they might have had about the task with positive associations about documentation. So when you understand the business case for documentation – and specific types of documentation – you can make sure that you’re rewarding positive behaviors.
We’ve found that where IT documentation is concerned, the carrot works far better than the stick. The stick gets you a bare minimum of documentation, like maturity level 3 type of stuff, where the carrot gets you to the highest level of documentation maturity. So use rewards – gamification measures and helps foster intrinsic motivation, but a little extrinsic motivation in the form of gift cards, paid leave, or whatever other incentive works for your team, always helps.
If You Can Measure It, You Can Manage It
If you have to use the stick, at least when you engage in gamification, you’ll have metrics to back it up. People understand when they have concrete targets and didn’t meet them. And gamification allows you to manage team members who aren’t pulling their weight. No more management by suspicion; it’s like “you need to do more, and here’s the proof!”
IT Glue’s Engagement Feature
IT Glue comes with its own built in documentation gamification feature, called Engagement. Combined with the documentation completion profile to identify gaps, Engagement allows you to see who’s engaging with IT Glue, and reward them accordingly. A third party gamification and employee engagement system that we like is from CrewHu, and IT Glue has an integration with CrewHu, so you can use it to gamify and reward documentation work in IT Glue.
To get started on documentation mastery today, start with taking a look at IT Glue, then go from there.