Treating users as players in Agile implementation

Gamification became a main stream approach for marketing as well internal operation of the enterprise. In this post I will talk on one aspect which is understanding the users and categorizing them for Agile implementation.

There have been so many discussions about Agile transformation and how it is eaten by the culture. My argument is that there is only one action we should do toward a company’s culture, which is Respect. Rather than changing the culture, we should focus on more intuitive light weight approach for Agile implementation which is above all should be Fun for the users!

The Agile mind-set changes the roles of traditional project management to become self-organized and team empowerment. For me this is the toughest change and normally takes time. What about if we treated the users (team members, Scrum Master, Business Analysts, UX, Admins and others) as  players?

Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology provides perspective for categorizing players in a gamified system which could be applied to users in Agile adoption.

Gamifiying Agile adoption means creating well designed activities to encourage desired behavior from implementing Agile. The activities should be intriguing to the users so that they are motivated to show the required behavior through implementing those activities.

How a project manager changes so that he can give-up autocratic approach to support empowering a team to sign-off for its own tasks?

The focus should be shifted into designing activities which are rewarding and enabler to the desired behavior. Driven by Bartle’s we could have project managers as:

  • Socializers: Those who primarily want to network with peers in the organization to enhance their Agile understanding and implementation. The human-interaction focus of Agile is particularly appealing to socializers.
  • Explorers: Those who want to explore independently every activity of Agile and to define their role related to each.
  • Achievers: Those who, regardless of rewards, want to prove that they master as many as Agile activity as possible and demonstrate exceptional quality in Agile project management. They want recognition as to be praised by socializers.
  • Killers: Those want objective evidence (e.g. metrics) to prove they beat their peers in implementing Agile.

Gamification activities should be designed bearing the above categories in mind.

At the heart of gamification is the player-centered design which requires careful understanding of Bartle’s categories as it makes sense in the context of Agile adoption.

Let’s respect the culture and center Agile implementation around our players for motivating the desired behavior through having fun!

Flow visualization game

Link to this game is here.


I work with many teams who want to reap the benefits of applying the  Agile principles without feeling the compelling need to change themselves in order to follow specific methodology. Those teams are committed to quality, however, they want to do things their own way, specifically those teams want the following:

  1. Avoid organizational changes
  2. Maintain the current structure, title and role.
  3. A way to bridge to the new development paradigm.
  4. Learn and grow.

This game helps to visualize the team’s interactions for the purpose of enhancing these  interactions for implementing the Agile principles. Continue reading