Ep 037 Toby Beresford and score science for gamification

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Toby Beresford is a software entrepreneur, founder of the rise.global universal scorecard platform and longstanding gamification enthusiast. He is currently working on a new book, the Score Science Notebook, which provides practitioner models for infinite gamification design.

He is based in Haslemere, just a bit Southwest of London, it is a bit rural which he really enjoys! A regular day starts at 6 am with one of his kids, getting them ready for breakfast, school and he then jumps on a train to work as a contractor in Guildford. During lunchtime, he has started getting on Founders Nation and interacting with other entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs. In the afternoon he gets back to working in the office and in the evenings he comes home, do some housework and in the meantime perhaps work a bit as well on rise.global. He might also have a chance to go swimming where he is using a swimming tracker to track his progress! We also remembered Monica Cornetti and what seems to be her preference for treadmills. This reminded Toby of Rocky IV when the protagonist, to rise to the challenge of fighting against the Russian champion decides to train in Siberia in extreme conditions, while you can also see that this Ivan Drogo (his opponent) is actually in a very eclectic lab-looking training center with all the technology.

His biggest learning was when introducing rise.global, which was about creating a leaderboard. As you’ve heard many times before, this is just one of the possible gamification elements. What he found is that it does motivate a section of people. He started working with a very large global company, who wanted to get most of the company aware of a new product launch. So giving points for sharing, talking about it, emailing your colleagues and others. It was basically a marketing campaign but just for employees. This was going to last for 10 days and every day, the top three on the leaderboard would receive an iPad. They didn’t expect this would be an amazingly sought after reward, however, they might have slightly ignored the fact that in many emerging economies the price of an iPad might very well equal several months worth of salary. The impact was massive, perhaps even a bit too much, so some people became internal spammers! The key thing Toby would do different is not to start with a big prize and really consider what big means in all of their offices. The focus of these campaigns should be on people’s score, how well the users are doing against themselves, with the leaderboard something a bit more secondary. Engagers, be careful with the Overjustification Effect! You don’t want to destroy an intrinsic motivation with an extrinsic reward.

A very successful experience Toby shares is with an electric company. The project he worked on was intended to help the staff who provided maintenance and repairs to the electric system, to keep the lights on. A nice thing about the project was that the company had already invested in going from paper to digital, so all the reporting was digital and available for the managers. However, the staff themselves were not getting any sort of reports. They had to click a button to say they arrived, they fixed the matter and so on. Basically, the staff didn’t really know what was important as a metric. Toby decided to pull the data, turned it into a score and fed it back to the staff. It didn’t account for every possible action, some things couldn’t be measured by the system, but it was able to measure quite a few things. So there were interesting results, to begin with, they were interested in having their IT equipment working because it was used to measure them. An even more relevant one was that they managed, for the first time, to arrive on site for repairs in less than 40 minutes every time for the whole first year! This gamification strategy was the only change implemented so it can be attributed to this great success! Imagine what measuring the right things for education could achieve! Exciting times… Remember that not everything can be measured, in this case, safety couldn’t be measured, so account for that and be transparent enough to let them know that it only measures this and that, which does not mean the other things need to be done as well!

A best practice for Toby would certainly be to spend more time on the score! Getting the score and scoring rules right would benefit any gamification project. His favorite game is Bridge! He likes the fact that it is a social game that is played in pairs, among other things. Toby would love to listen to “the grandfather of gamification” Chuck Coonradt on Professor Game! A book he would recommend to us is “Scorekeeping for Success” by the same Chuck. Another one would be Daniel Pink’s “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” This brought us down into the topic of accelerating feedback, which is fundamental and even more so in education.

Toby’s superpower is certainly scoring! He finds it fascinating how many things can be achieved through scores. We even discussed how Crossfit has its own scoring and ranking system. He then goes into the details of what he would suggest to one of the Engagers who asks about what to do on his Statistics university course! Pretty exciting and, of course, related to scoring!

His final advice would be to get started. There is no need to design to level 56 with 2,000 badges. With a mindset of iteration and growth you will get there. If something doesn’t work, blame your design and try it again with something different!

We can connect with Toby on Twitter TobyBeresford and LinkedIn, he’s also open to questions on Quora! He’s of course available at rise.global which is free for 100 students or less!

For more on his book, which is work in progress, go to scoresciencenotebook.com

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