So, hereâs what happenedâ¦
I accidentally booked myself for six training courses in a row. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing for a freelance Trainer. The problem was that they were six of the exact same course. As I approached the looming six week stint, I felt a bit of dread.
Even though I love the topic and love training this course, the idea of six straight weeks of repeating the exact same thing made me feel a bit queasy. Not only was I concerned for my own sanity, I was worried that if I wasnât up for it, the quality of my training would suffer and the poor delegates who just happened to be booked on a later course would receive sub-par training. I could not do that to myself or to them.
So, my strategy was to devise a game. After watching TedTalks by Jane McGonigal, an online gaming expert from the Institute for the Future,Â I learned that gamification is a proven technique to turn challenges into fun. And I was going to need some fun to get through the sound of my own voice after six weeks.
The Game basics
As my game persona, âSuper Trainerâ, I wore my cape and tiara every day to work, or rather my favourite silver earrings (a bit less conspicuous). This small act was meant to remind me of my courage, sense of adventure, and optimism as I headed off to work each day to fight my arch rival, Dr. Montgomery N Zane (aka: monotony insane). Before I left each morning, I rolled virtual dice on an app on my phone to find out my daily challenge.
Throughout the day I looked for ways to include my challenge, along with my daily, weekly and ad-hoc power-ups. In case youâre not a âgamerâ, a power-up is something that gives a player extra powers. In the world of online gaming, this usually means extra lives or the ability to fly or breathe underwater. In my case, it was energy enhancing and energy boosting activities to keep me positive, upbeat, energetic and enthused for six straight weeks.
(Click here to see full game structure: Training Gamification 11 March)
The results: were incredible!
Over six weeks, there were only a three days where the game took a backseat to whatever else was going on, and a challenge wasnât completed. Even without the challenges on those days, the power-ups were in place and keeping me in the flow, healthy and energised enough to keep going. And at no point did I feel my nemesis, Dr. Montgomery, catching up to me. I crushed him!
I came up with 18 new exercises to run and 10 stories to share to help explain and embed the learning. I found 2 new routes to work and saw different areas of London I had never seen before. I listened to 3 comedy albums that kept me laughing (sometimes out loud, on the tube, during rush hour â a bit awks!). I connected with the delegates in every single course because of my increased sense of presence. I really heard their back stories and worked with them to connect the learning to their individual experiences.
The unexpected results: were even more incredible!
- Good humour / fun / funny moments
- Sense of adventure
As a Trainer, I am already a very confident person, so the side-effect of a boost in my confidence was completely surprising. Through the game my confidence to try new things was through the roof. My limitless attitude allowed each group to explore the same subject in any way we collectively came up with. Although there is a tight syllabus to follow with this course, we extended it to meet our needs and found new insights that not even I had considered before.
I listened to three comedy albums over the six weeks. They were not work related. However, laughter has some pretty astonishing knock on effects to all areas of your life. The more you can laugh, the better your life becomes. So although, I was laughing outside of work, the very real knock on effects were more laughter during work. Everything seemed a bit funnier, lighter and easier with a bit of humour.
Every day after all the delegates left the room, I spent 5 solid minutes writing down everything and anything that I was grateful for. Most days there was plenty of course related things to be thankful for. Some days this included things like âI got a seat on the tube this morningâ. This 5 minute exercise surprisingly energised me at the end of some very long days. It kept me going with hope and optimism, which also had a positive impact on my game ally â my husband.
But, please, donât just take my word for the success of my game, one of my delegates from WEEK 5 sent me this note on LinkedIn:
âThank you so much for the fantastic deep dive into PRINCE2 you gave us last week. I learned so much and really appreciate all the effort you put in to make it interesting, engaging and fun!â Hazel Jacob
Â I will play again
Iâm not sure what I was truly expecting from âjust playing a gameâ. My thinking was probably something along the lines of âthis will make the courses go by quickerâ, âthe game will be a nice distraction so that I wonât notice that this is the sixth time in a row that Iâve done the exact same thingâ, and âthis will add a bit of fun and frivolity during a long six-week-sameness-stretchâ.
And yes, those things did happen, but they were the minor side-effects. I know the research said Iâd get a lot more out of gamifying my work, but I must not have believed it. I consider myself a bit âold schoolâ â a game is for fun, for downtime, for hobbies and relaxation. I couldnât see how it would have an impact on real life things such as work. I was wrong.
Now that itâs over, I kind of miss it. Yes, Iâm tired, but Iâm not exhausted. I am glad itâs over, but Iâm not bored. I am happy to move on to other courses, but I am also looking forward to returning to this one. Â And I did have fun, a lot of fun. I will definitely be adding gaming to my Training adventure from now on. It was well worth it for me, my work and my delegates!
Jane McGonigal. TED2010. Gaming can make a better world http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world?language=en
Jane McGonigal. TEDGlobal 2012. The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life?language=en
ATTENTION London Project Managers:Â
13 July 2016 â 6.30pm â 1 Fore Street, London EC2Y 9DT
Project Management life youâve never seen it before!