Gamification to increase performance with Munch Lam | Episode 067

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Mun Choong (Munch) Munch is a serial tech entrepreneur based in Singapore. He is intrigued by how technology is fundamentally transforming how we socialize, learn, lead, work and play. He is the Founder and CEO of Selfdrvn Enterprise (Selfdrvn), a SaaS solution provider to help organizations improve workforce engagement and performance with positive psychology powered by mobile, AI, analytics and gamification. Munch was a part of the Gamification Panel at Gamification Europe 2018, which you can hear or see on Episode 64.

A regular day for Munch usually happens in Southeast Asia, even though they also have engagements in India and Europe. His schedule happens in many different places because he feels strongly that face-to-face interactions are a key driver. When he is not traveling he regularly catches up with the team in the office, even though they are often collaborating through virtual meetings. Munch also is a usual meditator (I have been doing this for quite a few months and enjoying the benefits), he uses gamification to keep his practice regular!

His favorite fail was at the start of his gamification journey, within his own company. He initially got pretty good results and had quite a bit of control over what was going on. He realized that these were results that might be desirable for other companies and were approached by this other company and thought it would be a piece of cake! Same country, quite similar in many ways… Six months later they realized it wasn’t really that similar, he feels the bigger mistake was that he and the client were fascinated by the gamification concept (new shiny object!) and were eager to apply it to this new audience but it was a solution looking for a problem! They didn’t dive deep enough into why they even wanted to engage the employees for! After the novelty factor wore off, the employees started to wonder how this would be relevant for their success and of course, adoption started to fall. This reminded me of the concept of Solutioneering that Andrzej Marczewski introduced in Gamification Europe 2017.

The biggest challenged he has solved using gamification is solving employee engagement to accelerate the growth of his own company. It was back in 2012 when they were a small company of 20 people with few resources and they had customers waiting for the company to deliver solutions to them but they didn’t have enough team members! They were competing for talent with giants like Google and Facebook but gamification helped demonstrate to potential employees that they are a different type of company. This stuck in the mind of many, they grew the headcount almost tenfold since then. One of the things that really worked is the fact that they made sure that the right behaviors are recognized in a timely manner! Just like in a game, when you do things right you score points or raise your level and get cool items for the game. This translated in their case to make sure that when they got good feedback from the customer, the related employees were instantly recognized for this. Now they want to do more projects well and in less time because they want more of that recognition. For example, some customer support engineers have to work on night shifts or on holidays because they support around the clock, which of course lead to greater absenteeism and other problems, it generated a lot of anxiety and others. After the introduction of their gamified system, this shifted to such a level that some were complaining that it wasn’t fair that they didn’t get enough of these (otherwise undesirably) schedules. They were unsung heroes who kept the company going but were not recognized and now they’re getting points to redeem real-world rewards.

His process is based on design thinking, step one is to understand the players’ motivations, even if they can be widely different. Next, they think of doing something which also simplifies the job of the end users as well, which certainly adds to the levels of motivation and engagement. The third step is to operationalize the company’s culture and values into what they are designing because they certainly vary from one to another even if the problem is shared! Then they make sure that there is good recognition, just like he did initially on his own company. Only after all this they start to think of applying game mechanics. Finally, after the game mechanics are in place they think of the use of digital nudges to make what they are trying to cultivate into a habit.

A best practice for Munch would be the use of nudging to actually create behavioral change. He used to be a gamer some time ago but now he plays We Bare Bears Repair a lot! It is very simple but he has found it very engaging and he can play it with children as well. He would like to listen to someone like Richard Thaler (recent Nobel Prize recipient) for his work on behavioral science. The book he would recommend is the book by Brian Burke called Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things because it is written in a simple and to the point manner, and it also helps companies actually reach success through its use. His superpower would certainly be empathy to understand a diverse audience. He is a 48-year old Asian but he is asked to engage millennials for example and this is something he has succeeded at achieving through his ability to empathize and understand.

We can find Munch on his LinkedIn or to the website of SelfDrvn which is


There are many ways to get in touch with Professor Game, you can go to my Twitter @RobAlvarezB, my Instagram, our Facebook Page, subscribe to our email list and even ask a question to future guests!

Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,


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