Gamified engagement brings efficiency benefits

Crazy Might Work Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 10 April, 2019


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A virtual aquarium has helped a government department engage staff and solicit ideas to benefit efficient service delivery.

An Australian state government department recently implemented a digital innovation platform called Feisty Fish — created by consultancy Crazy Might Work — to encourage engagement and innovation within its digital government division.

The concept is fairly simple. Feisty Fish acts as a sort of game that takes place in a giant virtual fish tank. A staff member will ‘go into’ the tank and create a ‘fish,’ and into that fish they put their particular idea or proposal. Once an idea is in the tank, everybody else can view it as it ‘floats’ around and click on it to have a look at what it contains.

If staff like an idea they can vote for it by ‘feeding’ it, and if they don’t like the idea they can provide a comment as to why they think it needs some more thought.

According to Crazy Might Work, the resulting conversation “becomes a clear pane learning experience for the entire organisation as everyone learns how ideas are evaluated, strengthened, or, in some cases, eliminated (dropping as bones to the fish graveyard on the ocean floor)”.

The department’s concept was to provide one location where it could collate ideas, plus also give its staff a voice.

The theme was, ‘What can the department start doing or repurpose in terms of resources across the sector to become more efficient and focus on its commitments?’ In other words, the idea was to identify opportunities for improvement.

According to feedback from the division’s staff, overall they liked the concept and found it to be a fun way of engaging. “It’s essentially gamifying and giving people… a light-hearted way [to interact] rather than the more structured ‘bulletin board’,” one staff member said.

At the conclusion of the initial trial the department ended up with 40-plus ideas in the tank, plus there were a significant number of people who provided comments and suggestions on those ideas.

Overall, the department concluded that it had been an innovative trial, with staff agreeing that it is good to try different things and find different ways of engaging with them and coming up with ideas.

One of the benefits of the system is that it holds the promise of uncovering pearls of wisdom that might not otherwise get to see the light of day.

For instance, somebody could be at a lower-graded position and come up with a sensational idea that would not normally be considered. It’s also about providing an opportunity for collaboration across multiple teams — someone might come up with an idea that might not be well-supported within their team, yet it could be a brilliant idea that will result in a significant impact across the entire department.

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