Yu-kai Chou Creating Frameworks including REMOTE | Episode 133

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Yu-kai Chou is an Author and International Keynote Speaker on Gamification and Behavioral Design. He is the Original Creator of the Octalysis Framework, and the author of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. He is currently President of The Octalysis Group and the Founder of Octalysis Prime, a Gamified Mentorship Platform. Yu-kai has been a regular speaker/lecturer on gamification and motivation worldwide, including at organizations like IDEO, Google, Stanford University, LEGO, Tesla, Boston Consulting Group, Turkish Airlines, the governments of UK, Singapore, South Korea, Kingdom of Bahrain, and many more. His work has affected over 1 Billion users’ experiences across the world.

Yu-kai was one of the earliest pioneers in Gamification, starting his work in the industry in 2003. In 2015, Yu-kai was rated #1 among the “Gamification Gurus Power 100” by RISE, and was also awarded the “Gamification Guru of the Year” Award in 2014, 2015 and 2017 by the World Gamification Congress and the Gamification Europe Conference.  He has helped a variety of companies, from seed stage startups to Fortune 500 companies such as LEGO, Uber, Volkswagen/Porsche, Sberbank, eBay, Fidelity Investments, AIG Japan, Verizon, and more. His work has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, The World Journal, PBS, NBC, and many more.

One of Yu-kai Chou’s life goals is to develop 100 frameworks. He believes if you have a skill its essential to be resource-efficient and therefore, he is currently on this path. His latest framework is the REMOTE Work Cultural Framework.

Yu-kai believes his unique skill set has been there from an early age with his strongest subjects being economics and chemistry as well as being a strong chess player. Although these may seem unrelated at first glance, they are all about visually understanding something abstract and making them move and change in your head.

We spent some time talking about how to find out what are your unique skills, those things that you do better than most. Yu-kai is also of the belief that the more life experience you have the more likely you will know where your skills lie but this isn’t always something you can reliably recreate. In these experiences, you can both observe what you do but also it would be key to observe others’ thoughts and even their reactions to what you do.

Most of Yu-kai’s frameworks start the process off as a problem, something that he may spend a lot of time thinking or working on. Since Yu-kai started his first business in 2005, he has only had something like a year in total where he has had a physical office and therefore remote working has been the norm for most of his professional career. Since the Covid-19 crisis came in, it opened his eyes to the problems most companies were facing not knowing how to work effectively remotely and so this framework is something that made sense and something he was motivated to create. This is how he found out and decided to go ahead and think about how to communicate this both to be helpful but also as a strategic move to be relevant to the things happening these days.

The remote framework is made up of 6 elements which lead to the two outcomes: productivity and workplace morale. The first of these 6 elements is Responsiveness, this is about when you send a message out how quickly and easily you get a response back. In the physical workspace, this is easy, you are next to someone and you are bouncing communication and ideas back and forth. When you move to remote work, it is important to be particularly looking at how to increase this responsiveness, because things certainly slow down. It is even from behavioral science that we can see how immediate feedback improves our willingness to communicate because we feel good about it.

The second element is Expression: allowing people to express their uniqueness. When working remotely this can be quite difficult as the majority of the communication can be done by email and doesn’t show any uniqueness but this can be done in several ways such as changing backgrounds in Zoom calls as well as gifs and emojis that apps like Slack allow us to do. These are even things that Yu-kai attributes elements

The third element of the remote framework is Momentum, and this is all about productivity tips that have been in development for over a decade from multiple individual events and not just from one key learning, including the Lifestyle Inertia Design. Here work is competing with the couch, Netflix, games and so much more! He definitely is all about activities that ramp us up into getting things done.

The fourth element, Openness, is made up of two elements: personal vulnerability, and corporate transparency. It is important to trust both the company and the colleagues to be committed to the work we are doing. At the start, he shared some stories on how corporate transparency is very important so employees are able to trust the company, but also how sometimes there is a balance to strike. He asserts then, that when people share vulnerabilities they bond together and this also is a pretty good segway to the next element of teamplay.

The fifth element is Teamplay and this is about setting up activities between employees so they can experience activities together and gain a better grasp of each other’s talents. Yu-kai is certainly an advocate of using games to get people to collaborate together, especially through games that involve direct collaboration. However, there are games that focus on deceit, which is something he would advise against since they might encourage the opposite of what you are looking for.

The final element is Enjoyment, this is around gamifying your tasks and work so that it feels exciting and interesting. This has a lot to do with making the activities more enjoyable, which is all about actually doing good gamification and this would connect with Yu-kai’s Octalysis Framework. It is not about making it as fun as the great games out there but rather to make them better so that people are willing to deal with them. For each of these elements its important to think about the three stacks: the triggers, the tools, and the culture.

In Yu-kai’s eyes this can be useful for both the individuals in teams as well as the companies themselves. He mentioned how some teachers commented that they have found particular interest in it with teaching remotely, as leaders of their classes for instance.

These are some examples of the posts already available that talk about the framework on the Octalysis Group’s blog:

We can contact Yu-kai through yukai [at] octalysisgroup [dot] com or on Twitter @yukaichou. Of course if we happen to be on Octalysis Prime, he certainly responds faster there but this is a private freemium platform and not entirely open, so the previous would be second best.


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