Defining moments

On one of my recent walks I was listening to the HR Happy Hour Podcast, which often contains great gems of wisdom and interesting conversations. The guest was Dan Heath, one half of the Heath brothers, and author of The Power of Moments and other great books such as Switch and Made to Stick. They discussed the book and the thinking behind it, which struck a chord with me and the work I do with gamification. Hence, I bought the book and spent time reading and listening to it as well as digging into to the free resources on the their website.

They talked about creating peak moments for an employee. They discussed how periods of transition are an opportunity to have a defining moment for an employee. For example a first day experience. We call them meaningful touchpoint in the employee journey. But the examples given definitely created an opportunity to make the new employee feel special, valued and gave the impression that they joined the right organisation.

A key point made in the book is that if we merely focus on fixing the problems people experience, you are just creating a business as usual feeling that doesn’t actually stand out. Instead, the authors suggest to build peak moments, which are moments which we remember. An example that spoke to me about building peak moments is captured well in the video below:

It is true most of us remember big events, but not the finer details or the how to moments. Creating these experiences consistently is what makes an experience matter and will take effort and creativity.

In the employee context they also recommended creating the opportunity to stretch. Most of us operate in our comfort zone the majority of the time, but stepping out and achieving at a new level is what makes us grow. Learning in effect should have stretch built into it and not all stretch emotions are comfortable, what we need is encouragement and belief that it can be done to tap into our inner resourcefulness to make things happen.

Dan Heath also recommends building a culture of recognition and making those moment of recognition again peak moments. He shared the example of a manager looking for feedback from customers on how employees of his company had dealt with them. When the feedback about particular individuals was great and positive, he would print out the feedback, frame it and add a personal note to it and then hand it to the employee in question. I have never been on the receiving end of such recognition in my career, but I would expect that the person on the receiving end felt rather special and appreciated.

In gamification design, we work closely with organisations to bring about more meaningful moments, but I would say that from reading and listening to this material it is time to stretch and look to create peak moments instead. I understand that once off events are easier to create than long term sustainable events. In many of our gamification designs, we have already mapped out meaningful touchpoints, fine-tuning those to become more impactful will take a bit of creativity, but it is possible.

In most cases, true human contact will be the high touch, high impact opportunity for gamification to work long term. We already see this with our current clients, the companies where managers are an active part of rolling out the engagement strategy or gamification strategy, typically perform a lot better than companies where technology is supposed to be the magic bullet. We always encourage active participation and when we are on site, we typically get it, we also know that only the really bought in will continue this after we leave the building.

In any case I would highly recommend the book to improve your thinking about gamification design and it contains some great examples on how to make people experience those peak moments.

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