It has been some time since anyone gave me a gold star, but the feeling that goes along with receiving recognition of an achievement never gets old.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of this when the Knowledge Management team at IDeaS recently gathered around a monitor to watch the winners of the Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards.
We had submitted our application in April and now the announcement day had finally arrived. As the bronze awards were announced across many categories, we held our breath when the slide turned to “Best Use of Performance Support.” There was no logo for IDeaS, but plenty of nervous laughter and our thoughts silently turned to the possibility of silver. Another set of winners were announced across many categories and then again, the slide turned to “Best Use of Performance Support,” but still no logo for IDeaS.
We didn’t dare say anything out loud, we all just exhaled and got prepared to view the gold winners. This time we had paid attention and knew exactly when to anticipate the slide for the “Best Use of Performance Support.” As we waited, we made small talk about some of the other gold winners and then there it was – we were next. The slide for “Best Use of Performance Support” was displayed with our logo on the slide. We really did it – we had won the gold! We whooped and hollered, we didn’t even hear our name announced. We had ice cream and took a few minutes to savor the moment. Then we talked about what we should apply for in 2016 – after all, winning is addictive…
So now I really feel it – all this gamification going on in learning. The incorporation of competition, prizes and bragging rights. The motivation you feel when someone else recognizes your efforts. I have been building a team over the last couple of years with such an incredible passion around learning – spanning from all sides. They are life-long learners from a personal standpoint, but more importantly, they are driven to improve user performance through providing the best possible learning experience.
Being new to the science of learning, I am regularly amazed by the creativity, dedication and motivation that this team possesses. They are driving a brand new learning mission at IDeaS. We have transitioned from asking, “What do our clients need to know to be successful?” to “What do our clients need to do to be successful?” Focusing on the action of doing rather than just knowing, has made an impactful difference in the way we develop and measure the success of our learning solutions.
As a technology company, it can be difficult to provide new users with a ‘safe’ and effective place to practice. Simulated environments can be costly to maintain and often expose only the ‘happy paths’ of a learning experience. What we have created is a learning environment that is integrated with lessons where learners first Explore new activities and concepts, Practice those new skills in simple scenarios and then Apply their knowledge by completing a more complex scenario within a real system environment. All along the way, learners are rewarded with points and opportunities to score big and impress their virtual bosses.
We have integrated this approach into our internal learning, too. Walking through the halls at IDeaS, you will find mission badges next to name tags, signifying completions of the “Knowledge Quests” that span our business and our products. November marks the completion of the first year of our Knowledge Quest program, and I have been blown away by the number of missions completed (I happen to have four badges next to my name tag…)
IDeaS also has a quarterly program called ShipIt, where every employee has 24 hours to work on their own improvement ideas relating to our products, teams, departments or company as a whole. At the end of the 24-hour period, each participating employee presents their idea in a five minute time slot. Everyone watching the presentations can vote, with the top three winners earning a special certificate…with a custom GOLD seal. Our 8th ShipIt is this week and the excited buzz of anticipation in the halls is undeniable. We have seen hundreds of new and cool ideas generated, presented and incorporated into our products and processes over the past two years – not to mention the proud display of ShipIt certificates across the company.
I don’t believe in everyone getting a gold star. I believe that reduces the value of the star for everyone. But I do believe in providing a way to recognize achievements that are connected to the success of an individual or team, coming from a credible source that can fully appreciate those efforts. Now that is a very powerful tool.
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