Gamification in Scrum: an introduction

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Recently, I’ve been looking for ways to beef up my ‘Scrum toolbox,’ by combining my love of Scrum with an old long-lost love of mine: gamification. Gamification, in a nutshell, is the process of incorporating game elements and mechanics into non-game contexts in order to increase engagement and motivation. So, is it possible to incorporate gamification into Scrum? Gamification, in the context of Scrum, could play an important role in fostering a culture of collaboration, experimentation, and continuous improvement, in my opinion. In this article, I will connect gamification principles to Scrum Values to provide a solid foundation for a future toolbox.


Gamification in Scrum: an introduction


Before I get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with fun ways to make Scrum more fun, I’d like to look into the underlying values and principles of both gamification and Scrum to see if they can complement one another.

Values and principles

The Scrum Values are clear and I have devoted articles to each of the five values. These are:

As for gamification, there is no definite or industry-defined list of principles. However, there are a few principles that are unofficially accepted:

  • Setting specific goals
    • Clearly define the game’s or activity’s goals and objectives, and make sure they align with the overall goals of the non-game context.
  • Tracking progress and providing feedback
    • To track progress and reward success, use a point system or a leaderboard. This can encourage team members to work together toward a common goal and/or compete with one another in a friendly manner. This can also assist team members in understanding their impact and making changes to improve their performance.
  • Creating challenges
    • Create challenging but doable tasks that encourage team members to think creatively and collaborate. This can encourage teamwork and problem-solving abilities.
  • Making use of competition
    • Create a sense of urgency and engagement by using competition. This can be done through team competitions or individual challenges.
  • Making the activity inherently enjoyable
    • Make the activity enjoyable. This can help to increase team members’ engagement, motivation and participation.
  • Providing incentives
    • Provide incentives for reaching certain milestones or completing specific tasks. This can add to team members’ motivation to participate and strive for success.
  • Allowing for autonomy
    • Allow team members some leeway in approaching the game or activity. This can aid in the development of creativity and engagement.

Drawing parallels

Gamification can have an impact on Scrum Values by utilizing point systems and leaderboards. These tools can help to increase team members’ commitment by providing clear incentives for meeting goals and contributing to the team’s success.

  • A Scrum Team, for example, could use a point system to track the value (but not velocity) of stories completed during a Sprint, with the team member who delivers the most value receiving the most points. This could motivate team members to collaborate and strive for excellence in their work.

Gamification can also influence Scrum Values through the use of challenges and competitions. These tools can help to foster team members’ courage by encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zones and try new things.

  • A Scrum Team, for example, could use a competition to encourage team members to try out new techniques or technologies, with the team member who achieves the best results receiving a prize. This could encourage members of the team to take risks and be open to new ideas.

Gamification can also aid in the development of focus and openness within a Scrum Team.

  • Gamification can help team members stay focused on their work and be open to new ideas and perspectives by providing clear goals and objectives and encouraging team members to share their progress and collaborate on solutions.

In addition to these advantages, gamification can help to foster a sense of respect within a Scrum Team.

  • Gamification can help to build trust and respect among team members by providing clear guidelines and rules and encouraging team members to work together to achieve common goals.

In conclusion, gamification has the potential to play a significant role in promoting the Scrum Values of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. Teams could increase engagement, motivation, and collaboration by incorporating game elements and mechanics into the Scrum process, as well as foster a culture of continuous improvement and experimentation.

Coming soon

I’ll be working on guidelines for designing gamified elements to include during the Sprint and Scrum Events in a future article.

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