Learning & Development, Talent

Gamification Drives Engagement in Leadership Program

The DLA (www.deloitte.la) is a fully digital executive training program used by more than 10,000 senior executives at over 150 companies worldwide, including all Deloitte partners in Australia and the United Kingdom and some in the United States, Mexico, China, and Russia, says James Sanders, DLA manager.

The self-paced program, which is offered both to other companies and individuals, provides content from Harvard, Stanford, and IMD, and makes that content available online 24/7. “It is based on the premise that face-to-face training is incredibly expensive for organizations to deliver and also can be very inconvenient for the person,” Sanders explains.

The latest release of the DLA this spring incorporates gamification with an educational platform from Badgeville (www.badgeville.com). “Gamification is a business strategy that takes techniques from social gaming and traditional gaming to motivate and influence behavior,” says Adena DeMonte, Badgeville’s director of marketing. Although learners are not involved in games per se, they are given incentives—similar to those offered in games—to reward leaders for participating in and completing training. “People like to earn rewards and complete things.”

Sanders likens the concept to that of a university in which students progress through their freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years; meet deadlines; perform team exercises; make the dean’s list (or not); and, eventually, receive a diploma.

The DLA participants are rewarded for “completing lessons, watching full educational videos, answering quizzes, and all the way up to earning an optional diploma,” says Frank Farrall, lead partner of Deloitte Digital Australia.

Executives enrolled in the DLA see their progression—and how it compares with others—and can compete for recognition as an expert in 12 different topic areas, Sanders says. An overall leader board, as well as individual leader boards for each topic, show participants how they are ranked compared with others on the basis of their completion of course content; when participants see that someone else is about to outrank them—or that they are about to outrank another person—they are motivated to do more. 

Learners can earn up to 40 different DLA badges, although it is unlikely that one person would collect all of them, Sanders says, adding that the badges they do earn are posted in their DLA profile and on leader boards, and can be posted on their Facebook or LinkedIn® profiles as well.

Learners can earn “predictable badges” that are awarded for attaining accomplishments with specified goals (completing certain course content, receiving a certain number of replies to a posted comment, etc.), as well as “unpredictable rewards” that participants don’t necessarily know they are working toward, Sanders says. In explaining unpredictable rewards, he says, “It’s sort of like an Easter egg hunt. You know they’re out there, but you don’t know where they are or how to get them.”

Badges not only reward learners for their accomplishments, but also provide them with recognition among their peers and company management and brand them as someone who has expertise within a certain area, Farrall says.

To ensure success with gamification in training, DeMonte says, “Make sure that you know what you’re hoping to accomplish. Don’t add it just because it’s fun.” She recommends that employers define three to five business objectives, select a program that will help them achieve the desired goals, and quantify and track long- and short-term success.