Project Management Visionaries: RedCritter

This is the fifth entry in the PM Visionary Series.

And here I thought my series was done. Recently, I wrote an article where I thought that might be a nifty idea. And then along came At Task Stream, which incorporated many gamification-like features. Mike, however, is taking the gamification of project management to a whole new level! I wish Mr. Beaty very well in his endeavours and would like to hear updates on how the product is doing. Welcome Mike below with your great comments (and check out his profile by clicking “My RedCritter Badges” at the bottom)!

RedCritter ProfileThe Business of Badges – Gamifying Our Workplace

Gamification is receiving a great deal of attention today for its use in consumer applications. Put simply, gamification means the use of game mechanics in non-game applications. As you read this, major brands are rushing to incorporate gaming elements such as badges and leaderboards into their websites and marketing initiatives. Their goal is to encourage consumers to get more engaged with their brand, and it works. At RedCritter we believe gamification has an even greater potential to revolutionize the way we work. RedCritter’s sole focus is on the gamification of business, all aspects of it. Our gamification product, RedCritter Tracker, is the the only gamified project management solution. It’s real-world Agile project management with gamification baked into its design. In this post I’ll mention some things pertaining to the design of gamified products, specifically badges. But first a little more background.

Work is not the Opposite of Play

Work should be enjoyable. Work and play can co-exist. We all know this instinctively. Have you found that you do your best work when you are doing something that you enjoy? If you’re a manager don’t worry; I’m not going to suggest that we all take an hour out of our work-day for Nerf gun wars! There are more subtle ways to incorporate gamification into the workplace that not only increase our enjoyment, but at the same time increase the quality of our work and our productivity. As it pertains to project management, gamification holds the promise to take the burden out of our day-to-day task management, streamline our interactions with the team, and even make the actual process fun. These are all things that lead to positive outcomes for both the employer and employee. I would argue that fun in the workplace it is a trait shared by the most innovative and sucessful and companies in the world.

RedCritter DashboardFirst things First

Today’s business software is antiquated. Little thought went into making it easy to use much less enjoyable. I can promise you that no one, not one person, creating enterprise software ever lost sleep worrying if their software was fun to use! Until very recently, business solutions have been measured by how many tabs they can cram into the main menu. If you’re smiling you know exactly what I’m talking about. Just as the shift from client-server to web-based software architectures changed most business software in the 90’s, gamification represents an equally seismic shift. It’s a shift towards true enlightenment. The realization that great software isn’t about massive and complex feature sets, it’s about design elegance and user interaction. It is the acknowledgment that people are not machines and an engaged workforce is a productive workforce. Gamification will soon change everything you know about business software – for the better.

The Elements of Gamification

The elements of gamification are well-known although their real-world application in business is much less understood. Badges, rewards, leaderboards and ribbons are the fundamental building blocks of gamified software. When incorporated into business software it is important that these new capabilities don’t increase the complexity of the software. For this reason, bolting game mechanics onto existing business software… you know… the software with all the tabs in the menu, is pointless and can in fact be detrimental to productivity. Gamification, properly implemented, should actually streamlining our day-to-day activities.

Badges in the Business World

Some argue badges in the workplace are trivial. We agree… If the badges were given out for trivial reasons. For badges to have true value they must represent a real accomplishment, an acknowledgement of learning, or capture an aspect badge holder’s personality. For example, RedCritter Tracker awards badges for successfully completing difficult tasks or completing tasks that involved a great deal of team work. RedCritter Tracker has 50 distinct badges that teams can unlock for their companies by performing a wide variety of actions. Badges can be powerfully diverse and meaningful trophies, and we all like trophies.

Creating an engaging badge set is definitely an art and many factors should be considered. These include the types of and number of badges available, how badges are earned, when badges expire and a lot more. Also, contrary to what has been published in other articles around the net, never give clear rules on how badges are obtained. Don’t publish lists of all your product’s badges with instructions on how they are earned before they are discovered. That takes the fun out of it. Exploration is a powerful motivator for many people. Badge sets should encourage discovery in order to capture the excitement of the unknown.

There are several different types and characteristics of badges that can work together to help create an engaging experience. Here are just a few.

Newbie Badges: Newbie badges are designed to give new users positive reinforcement and gratification very quickly. This helps the users know that they are doing things correctly.

Single Owner Badges: Some badges may only be held by a single person at a time. These types of badges create competition and can be a strong motivator for certain personality types.

Expiring Badges: Some badges may expire after a given period of time. Expiring badges help paint an accurate, timely picture of the holder’s accomplishments. They must be earned regularly or they will disappear.

Now You’re Just Showing Off

A well-designed badge system should create a reflection of the user’s professional identity that they will want to share not just within their company, but also with the world. Have a look a my RedCritter Accomplishments. These are the actual badges that I have earned using RedCritter Tracker. RedCritter products incorporate the option for users to publish their accomplishments to a public directory, called the RedCritter Accomplishments Directory. The uses for this are endless. I can enhance my LinkedIn profile, my resume, my email signature and even publish my accomplishments on my website or blog.

Where’s it all Going?

At RedCritter, we believe gamification will drive a fundamental shift in the way we work and the way our business software works. Gamification is nothing less than the catalyst that will spark the re-thinking of all business software and we are leading the charge. RedCritter will soon be delivering a broad suite of applications for many areas of business taking gamification well beyond project management.

More about Mike…


Mike Beaty

Founder/CEO
RedCritter Corp.
Creator of all things RedCritter
I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
  • Hi everyone,

    Visit our pre-regsitration page http://www.redcrittertracker.com and enter your email address and we’ll give you a free 4-user account when we launch.

  • Elizabeth

    Six years ago I was talking internally at my old company about adding some kind of social status star rating to the telephone directory, to show people who was an expert in what. We spent a lot of time wondering what to do, and in the end did nothing. Now I know we were discussing gamification! If we’d known that at the time we could have actually taken our ideas forward with badges like this.

    Certain personality types are incredibly motivated by gaining recognition in this way, although how it relates to improving project managment practice remains to be seen.

  • You raise a good point about personality types. The motivation factor is a very important tool in a project manager’s arsenal. The problem is, how do you gauge which personality types will embrace gamification and which types won’t care?

    I’m very interested in seeing where Red Critter takes this. I think there’s a lot of great potential, but success or failure will lie in the execution.

  • Dude that’s really exciting! I wish you the best of luck and please come back and tell us how you’re doing!

  • Pingback: Gamification of agile software projects « msc-cse.com()

  • We are preparing to launch our SaaS hosted version of RedCritter Tracker on Sept. 6th – by invitation only. We are offering a special for readers of PaperCut Edge. If you send an email to papercutearlyaccess@redcritter.com we will give you a free, no obligation 30 day trial. Should you choose to upgrade you’ll get 50% off our list price of $5.99 per user/mo.

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