Managing information and knowledge is (child's) play, no, game?

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 06:35

CC by of the hottest buzzwords of business research is gamification. Similarly to many other terms from Web 2.0 to BPR, and well yes, knowledge management, it is offered as a miracle cure to problems organisations are facing today and a recipe for success to make a day tomorrow.

In a similar way than many other buzzwords, there is something in it (of course) but things are perhaps not that simple that gamification can be taken and made to work like a new hammer. Knowledge management is really important but you can't just take it and expect it work out of the box. You have to understand what it is and how knowledge and information can be managed in your organisation to help it to flourish. In a similar fashion, there are plenty of things to learn from games and play. Why games can be so fascinating, why people play, why and how people are playing even when they are doing other things like seeking information and using systems and how we could build a (real) game that helps your company to get a competitive advantage?

From the information and knowledge management perspective you could ask the same question NASA's Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) Dr. Ed Hoffman does about gamification: even if we would acknowledge its usefulness, "we must diligently ask questions to enhance its uses for NASA". Here I would like to go a bit farther than he does and question the notion of gamification and ask what is really useful about games for NASA and beyond, and if we take a nice concept like that, how we should operationalise it at our organisation. 

(This post has also been published in the Information and knowledge management @ Åbo Akademi University blog at