Business is a game.
My first sales job was an inside position where I was required to make 125 outbound calls a day. Those contacts were supposed to yield 12-15 direct contacts, which would yield 3-4 appointments, of which 3-4 would close a week.
We tracked our numbers, and often had contests and spiffs to hit those numbers and more.
My first recruiting experience had activity KPI's. They included a point system where phone contacts were one point, meetings were 10, job reqs were 5, placements were 10, and handwritten notes after a meeting were two points. For recruiters, they included, interviews, submissions, phone calls, placements, and reference checks. Those recruiters with the best totals were lauded, promoted and also given cash rewards.
My first retail job bonused managers when they kept theft levels down.
My first corporate recruiting job bonused managers on keeping Gross Profit Margins at 25% and above, and managing employees to hit a minimum number of entries in the ATS.
My first private recruiting job included bonuses for managers who made diversity hires.
My first customer service project utilized call center metrics that included time-to-answer, time-on-call, Survey results, escalations, and a monetary figure for each minute of time.
My first marketing project included number of views, earned media, expansion of paid media, clicks, conversions, and email addresses.
My first web design project included traffic to the site, calls from the site, email form submissions, and sadly, award nominations.
What these all have in common is a series of metrics that are measured, accumulated, often rewarded, and tabulated for success.
There is no functional difference between any of those metrics, and gathering coins, experience points, eaves, check-ins, corn crops, gems, mayorships, and badges. The difference is what we value, not the system with which we measure the value.
Take a 15 year old World of Warcraft player who runs a team of other players, and compare him to a 40 year old executive with Microsoft.
The executive uses KPI's to measure actions and track experience in their organization.
The player uses game statistics to measure actions and track experience in his group.
One craves virtual goods, experience points as measured by the system, and team interaction that helps them accomplish goals.
The other just likes killing orcs.
The Recruiting Animal Show just finished a somewhat frustrating call trying to interview Dups, the CEO of Empire Avenue. The recruiters wanted to know what value the game had. Dups pointed out the game had the value you assign to it. That's not a circular argument, it's an accurate description of what to look for in a gaming layer.
Empire Avenue can be used to amass fake wealth, or it can be used for recruiting.
Empire Avenue can be used to create a reputation as a social player, or it can be used to self-train on social platforms.
The Game is not what's important. It's recognizing that all of business is a game. We can dress it up as much as we want, but the sooner we push aside our views of what things are supposed to be like, and recognize how things are, the better prepared we are to utilize all platforms, social and otherwise, to achieve our goals.
Maybe Gary Larson was right after all.
Above: Gary Larson's "old FAR SIDE" cartoon, nicked from the Psychology Today site. Yes, Psychology Today! (The Far Side ® and the Larson ® signature are registered trademarks of FarWorks, Inc. Copyright © 2000, 2007 FarWorks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)