And how about those instruction manuals? When was the last time you read a manual in advance of trying out a new product? Learning a new task? We are being conditioned to expect that there are better, quicker and more effective ways to learn than to sit in a classroom or reading a manual.
Learning Without the Training
The game play instructions for the Angry Birds games are simply described in pictures. As are the instructions for building Ikea furniture. Even our smartphones, probably the most complex tools that we use today, are accompanied by minimal quickstart pamphlets (much of which contains translations in 6 languages). Instead, we are learning to learn by doing.
Retail Training Needs to Catch Up
We were recently talking with the SVP Operations of a retail chain who talked about the need to train associates; the need to get everyone on the same page; the need to position a consistent brand message through the actions and behaviors of their associates. And how their associates did not have any time or interest in taking their traditional training courses. He said he was struggling to find a way to provide training without it being perceived as training.
Games Instead of Training
Games and Gamification can provide an approach to solving this challenge:
- First, everyone loves to play games because it gives players another chance to win. Games and contests motivate players to want to win.
- Second, in order to win, players become self-motivated to learn how to win. The rules of any learning game should be designed to encourage players to learn the behaviors of success in your organization.
- Third, when players are motivated to learn how to win, then they understand and internalize the newly acquired information much better.
- Fourth, when players learn, adopt and are rewarded for winning behaviors in the games, they also learn how to “up their game” in the real world.
These principles can be applied using both Serious Games and Gamification strategies. In Serious Games, players play games that have a start and a finish and are created to encourage learning. In Gamification, game structures and techniques are applied to real work and activities to leverage social and game related forces to encourage players to behave in certain ways.
Either way, game structures can be used to motivate players to adopt winning behaviors in both virtual store settings and in real store settings. And these learning experiences can be delivered in a format that is much more fun and engaging than that last training session that you attended.