Thinking About a Gamification Platform?           Empathy Mapping is Key

Thinking About a Gamification Platform? Empathy Mapping is Key

thinking about a gamification platform?

A lot of research around gamification concerns its benefits, for example, the way it stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers or reduces the stress around learning so new information is more easily downloaded and integrated. These neurological processes have been given credit for everything from higher-performing employees (Deloitte is an excellent early example of this) to a huge increase in people ordering lattes and macchiatos at Starbucks.  Gamifying an experience can also create a sense of belonging that keeps people engaged long after the training, workout, online class, or shopping trip is over.

But what about the things that draw people to the product, the platform, or the community in the first place?

  1. Who Is Your Target User?
  2. Research
  3. Earned Data
  4. Just The Beginning

Who Is your Target User?

Before designing your gamification platform, it is critical to not only identify your target user, but to compile data about the way they perceive the products in your market and how those products fit into their lives. In fact, depending on your goal it might be necessary to gain an understanding of how they view their immediate environment and the world at large. One way to do this is through empathy mapping, a highly effective method of data collection that gets to the heart of gaming experience, namely, what truly moves the user.

Empathy mapping targets such areas as what a person thinks, feels, says, hears, sees, and does. The purpose is to delve into the emotional space of the individual or a particular demographic (i.e., a group of employees or a target market), thus creating a profile that can then be used to determine what motivates them to buy something, learn something, or achieve a particular goal.  It even reveals the factors that people prioritize while making decisions, for example, if they are willing to wait longer or spend more for a product or try harder to work for a company that speaks to their values.


There are a few different ways of collecting this information, one of which is through the third-party research typically used in product development and marketing campaigns. A more direct and arguably effective way, however, is to go straight to the source with surveys questions that address people’s needs and challenges, as well as the solutions they believe would improve their lives.  As mentioned above, these questions should be designed to elicit responses that reveal what they think (i.e., that there must be a better product or service out there to fill their need); what they feel (if their resistance to switching to a new product is due to “the devil you know” mentality, or a concern that it will be worse than what they currently have); and what they say (an account in their own words about their experience). The survey should also ask about how those other factors influence their behavior. This deep dive also allows companies to determine what kind of rewards their ideal customers prefer – for example, a free e-book for joining the mailing list versus a discount on their first purchase.

Earned Data

A gamification platform based on this type of knowledge honors and organically engages the user, rather than simply to trying to sell them something or manipulate them into providing personal information. This is what’s known as “earned data,” and having it before designing the platform saves the company the time – not to mention thousands of dollars – it would take to revamp the platform later based on less-than-stellar feedback.

Moreover, the process of empathy mapping can be as valuable as the outcome. Like mind mapping, it allows participants to become aware of and debunk any preconceived notions – in this case about their target audience and what drives them – and make new connections, all of which informs further research and guides brainstorming sessions about how to deliver what that audience wants.  It gets really interesting when contradictory pieces of information start showing up – for example, when users give positive feedback about your offering but are declining to re-order, or complain and buy it anyway. Perhaps they are just being polite, or maybe they are waiting for another, better version of your product to come out. Either way, gaining insight into the disconnect between what consumers are thinking, saying, and doing is priceless, for it allows companies to investigate further and, if necessary, pivot.    Another great thing is that once you do have your platform in place it becomes part of the empathy mapping process, providing constant feedback that alerts you to shifts in your market.

Just the Beginning

Though gamification has become increasingly popular over the last several years, we are clearly still scratching the surface of the many ways in which it works and its potential to benefit our businesses and educational institutions. Designing a platform can be a complex, expensive, and time-consuming endeavor, so regardless of what we are trying to sell or teach the key to success is allowing the users, and what makes them tick, as our compass.

How to Be an Objective Manager

How to Be an Objective Manager

How to Be an Objective Manager

Defining Objectivity

What does it mean to be an objective manager? Objectivity means lacking bias, not showing favoritism towards one side or the other. So, in a nutshell, an objective manager must manage his team without bias or favoritism. His (or her) view must be crystal clear in order to see beyond skewed perceptions and to be able to avoid favoritism in the workplace for the greater good of his team and the business as a whole.

Objectivity: the quality or character of being objective lack of favoritism toward one side or another: freedom from bias.

“Freedom from bias”, or a “lack of favoritism toward one side or another” is a very positive quality to have in our interactions with others, but even more so in our interactions with those who are subordinate to us in our careers. When someone is a leader of any kind, it is vitally important that they have a broad understanding of the goals of the organization. That they will then also be able to translate that into the work that they are responsible for is the goal. Everyone within an organization needs to have a clear understanding of the big picture, and a view that is free from bias. Team managers, as leaders, must ensure that their management style is objective so that that their views are not clouded when decisions are made about how to meet the company’s goals. Good decisions cannot be made on bad information, and good managers recognize bias so that it can be dealt with accordingly. Any leader who struggles with bias or favoritism in the workplace will be using information that is inaccurate to lead with, which in turn skews the thought processes and most notably, the accomplishments of their employees. And that is not what good leaders – and objective managers – need to be doing.

Let’s discuss Principles of Management.  What are the qualities of a good leader and an objective manager? Besides the obvious ones already discussed, the all-important lack of favoritism and/or bias, there are several qualities that managers will want to develop to be good leaders, and several principles they will want to follow.

Principles of Management

Let’s discuss Principles of Management.  What are the qualities of a good leader and an objective manager? Besides the obvious ones already discussed, the all-important lack of favoritism and/or bias, there are several qualities that managers will want to develop to be good leaders, and several principles they will want to follow.

“Dispassionate objectivity is itself a passion, for the real and for the truth”.

– Abraham Maslow

No matter the industry, great leaders are essential. The responsibility of a leader to be fair and remain objective is one of the benchmarks of any business. Leaders who can minimize personal biases are then able to keep a realistic perspective, aiding in objectivity and the overall success of the project. Whether considering a performance review, work on a major project, or hiring new employees; the manager may want to take precautions and make sure that they are basing their decisions on good information. If the manager knows his information is solid, not skewed, and that his approach is objective, then he or she can be confident that the right decision is going to be made. With solid leadership, a solid effort from the team should result. Growing the confidence and communication skills of your team will have only positive effects the team and on the company. There are many ways to build your team’s strength and skills with gamification being a top choice. ZIZO can tell you more about their unique team building Performance Management Systems and Gamification Platform and offers an easy, free demo.

ZiZo’s innovative workforce gamification management software will positively impact your 
culture, productivity and ultimately– your success.

Managers need to be able to manage their workforces objectively and effectively for the company as a whole to be successful. A good manager must also be willing to consistently educate themselves and grow in leadership skills. Good leaders also make the workplace a safe space where the employees know they will be heard and not be judged unfairly. Employees know when their boss is not seeing things clearly and that lack of authenticity breeds distrust, which in turn, stresses the employees and disrupts the flow of work. This is not what any business owner wants. Let’s talk about a few pillars of good leadership.

Are You Doing All You Can to Stay Objective?

In assessing your objectivity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I consider all the available information before making a decision?
  • Is there a way I could make use of observable data in my daily managerial duties?
  • Do I let my decisions be influenced by my personal opinions or experiences?
  • Do I hold biases that influence my behavior at work?
  • Have I overreacted in ambiguous situations?
  • Do I rely on my judgment when making decisions?

What Makes a Good Leader?

Be aware of your biases. As an objective manager, you will want to make sure you take the time necessary to make unbiased decisions when they are called for. If you as a manager are not aware of your own predisposition towards favoritism, you could easily rush decisions resulting in errors in judgement. It is vitally important to not only be aware of your biases but to also actively take steps to mitigate them. If biases exist, the manager must recognize them to be able to make crucial decisions fairly. Preconceived notions cloud your view. The manager who can recognize this and do what is necessary to prevent them from unfairly influencing decisions is taking a powerful step towards good leadership.

Consider your reactions. Part of being aware that you may have biases towards different situations is also recognizing those in your own reactions. Again, effective managers take the time needed to ensure they are making fair decisions without bias and need to do the same when reacting to work situations. In taking that time and considering the bigger picture, you are safeguarding your ability to see things from a different perspective, remain impartial, and be certain that the decisions you make for your team are reasonable and non-discriminatory.

Get to know your team. They will each have unique experiences and abilities and it’s the job of a manager to get to know them so that each employee will be able to do their best work for the benefit of the company, as well as themselves individually. Knowing what motivates your employees and making a determined effort to create more opportunities to motivate them is key to encouraging growth. Objective management creates a positive environment of growth and appreciation, which spurs company growth and advancement.  The ZIZO platform is a great way to do this because it fosters good communication, adds a bit of friendly competition into the day, and encourages team members to reach their goals.

Welcome collaborative thinking. Know what the company’s vision is and be able to effectively share that with your team. When team members share the vision, they are invested in the success of the company, and are working towards the common goal. But without the vision, the motivation is not the same. A great way to encourage your team to share the company vision is for the leader to be invested in their ideas. Your team members likely have some thoughts of their own that would benefit the whole and a great manager will build an environment that encourages them to share their thoughts. If a team member feels that their ideas are appreciated, they will be more willing to share their concepts with the team which builds a sense of community, a feeling of being included and being invested in the success of the group, which strengthens the company overall.

John Maxwell, in his 21 INDISPENSABLE QUALITIES OF A LEADER, lists many merits of a good leader.  Among them are many traits that you will not only want to see in yourself, but also will want to build in your team. Number one on the list is being a person of good character because character is more than just what you say, it’s who you are and how you live. Be the person ready to recognize things in yourself that can be improved, then work on that. Desirable character traits include honesty and reliability, being a good communicator (which also includes being a good listener), working hard, and being diligent to fulfill your responsibilities in a respectful manner. Also on the list, commitment and competence are very important qualities for a leader. Show your commitment to continuing leadership education for yourself and it will translate into your team wanting to do the same. A good leader will do all the above and help others do the same. There are some great team-building tools available that leaders can use to promote growth within their teams, with ZIZO topping the list.

Good, solid communication skills are high on the list because it is one of the most important qualities for a leader of any kind. When you show that you can effectively lead by being clear in your communication while also allowing your team to let their voices be heard, it follows that both sides are being heard clearly. Good communication in this scenario is both sides being fully heard and understood. Then the leader can take all ideas into consideration and make a decision based on the thoughts of the team as well as his own. The team will be then be able to respect it since they know their voices have also been heard. Gamification provides an effective way for team members and leaders to communicate with each other – plus it’s fun so people will want to participate.

How Can a Good Manager Lead Objectively?

Courage, discernment, focus, and passion are more qualities that Maxwell calls indispensable, and for good reason. He defines courage as making things right, not just smoothing them over, which is an essential quality for leaders because it is the leader’s responsibility to be able to fix things that are wrong by identifying the root of it and correcting it. And at times, it may take courage to do so. Courage goes hand-in-hand with discernment, which is defined as “the ability to find the root of the matter.” An objective leader needs both discernment and courage.

“Smart leaders believe only half of what they hear. Discerning leaders know which half

to believe.”

~John. C. Maxwell

Generosity is a hallmark of the discerning, courageous leader that is focused and passionate about what he is doing.  Putting people first and being grateful for what you have are qualities you will see when generosity is being put into practice. It’s been said that your candle will not dim by lighting another. This is how good leadership should work. American President Calvin Coolidge stated that, “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” Any company that prioritizes these leadership qualities including generosity is setting their own stage for success, and they can easily outshine their competition.

An objective leader is also a problem solver. As good leaders, they understand that small issues can turn into large ones, so they will prioritize fixing these issues. They work hard to build good relationships because that is the basis for making the company work. With good rapport and communication, and a situation where the team member feels valued, they will in turn, value the company and work hard to correct problems as soon as they are identified. When team members see leaders that take responsibility to go that extra mile to get the job done because of their own drive for excellence even in small things, they will do the same. The teams are treated to the sight of their leaders having self-discipline and acting as servant-leaders. Their vision for the future is accomplished by rightly discerning the truth, encouraging proper communication, and solving whatever problems come their way through humble service to others.

Objectivity as a leader involves creating a culture of collaboration, trust, discernment, honesty, and courage to rightly identify and correct issues as they arise while building relationships. By maintaining a high standard of excellence and open communication, building trust among team members and helping each one reach defined goals, leaders truly lead their teams to success.

ZIZO offers a fun and engaging gamification platform on which to motivate your teams, easily manage data and communications, help team members reach their goals, and promotes the overall success of the business; all done in an engaging, competitive, and fun way.


Will Generation X Adapt to the New Way the World Works?

Will Generation X Adapt to the New Way the World Works?

Will Generation X Adapt

Defining Gen X

Gen X at Work

Gen X and Gamification

Gen X’s Adaptability


There’s no denying that the workforce is being taken over by Millennials and Gen Z workers. If fact, within the next five years, 75% of the workforce will be made up of members of the Millennial and Gen Z generation.

Naturally, employers have shifted their focus to these younger generations in an effort attract the best young talent. These cohorts think, work and act differently, and they expect the same from their employers. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs about Gen Z and Millennial workers, you know that companies need to enact a lot of changes to appeal to these generations. You may have even gotten the impression from our blogs that ZIZO exclusively caters to the young and tech savvy workforce.  

While ZIZO was founded partially on the basis of closing the gap between businesses and the new generational workforce – we certainly don’t want to leave anyone behind, especially not our experienced and respected Gen X fellows. 

I get questions all the time about Generation X employees and how they’ll fit into the ZIZO platform. Skeptics are concerned that the less tech-y generation won’t appreciate the gaming elements ZIZO brings to their workday. Without their participation, the success of gamification hangs in the balance. 

Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to assume someone won’t enjoy tech and gaming in their day-to-day due to their age 


Defining Gen X 

Generation X refers to those born between 1965 and 1980Sandwiched between two notorious generations, Gen X is often referred to as America’s ‘Middle Child’. Upon further investigation, this reference could not be truer for the middle of the road generation.  

Often referred to as ‘latch key kids’, Gen X grew up before the era of helicopter parents and participation trophies. This instilled a great deal of independence in the generation, as they’re accustomed to taking care of themselves and holding themselves accountable without outside influencers. 

In juxtaposition to their younger counterparts, Gen X hasn’t been on the internet for the majority of their lives. Daily use of tech and smart phones gained steam later in their lives, which allowed them to develop communication skills sans technology. This, in-turn, means Gen X employees are well adept at collaboration and direct, in-person communication.  

Despite their later-in-life introduction to technology, this generation remains highly involved with technology. Gen X frequently participates in social media and are extremely flexible when it comes to learning and adjusting to new technology. 

Gen X at Work 

Gen X grew up watching their predecessors grind away with long hours and workaholic tendencies, while this instilled a strong work ethic in the generation; it also created a desire to ‘live a little’. Known as the ‘work hard, play hard’ creators, we can thank Generation X for the trend shift towards work-life balance 

Although younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z are often given the credit for the demand of more amenities in the workplace, Generation X is who really deserves the thanks. Open office plans and the separation from dreary masses of cubicles began in the 90’s – when Generation X began demanding more forward-thinking work environments.  

The generation’s contribution to the workforce doesn’t stop at their demand for a less depressing work environment; Generation X brings a lot to the workplace table. 

  • They’re great communicators. Gen X professionals are notoriously direct compared to younger generations. This brings the ability to have open and honest conversations to the workplace, which in turn allows a more relaxed and transparent environment. Gen X’s strong communication skills lends them perfectly to collaboration; competency working with others is a huge asset to Generation X professionals. This skill has served them well when working on teams and is what earned the group recognition for their strong networking skills 
  • They lead. In 2019, 51% of global leadership positions were held by Generation X cohorts. This monopoly on leadership can be attributed to many factors; but perhaps the strongest is the desire to lead. As a member of the Gen X generation, I can attest to the natural need to lead and be independent. Maybe it is due to the independent nature of our childhood’s or to the unique environment we grew up in. Whatever the reason, there is no denying the group’s drive for leadership; in a global study, over half of the 18,000 Gen X participants polled reported that becoming a leader was important to them.  
  • They won’t take critics too hard. This is yet another positive attribute the Gen X can credit to their uniquely independent upbringings. Born and raised before helicopter parents and participation trophies, Gen X doesn’t expect unnecessary nicetiesWhile their younger counterparts often lose sleep over a harsh remark or criticism at work, Generation X professionals embrace the same feedback as a means to improve.  
  • They’re more tech-y than they get credit for. While internet wasn’t a major deal during the developing years of Generation X, most Gen X professionals used it regularly early on in their careers. The use of technology isn’t necessarily innate for Gen Xers, but they were at the forefront of the movement from paper to digital, forcing adaptability and quick mastery of technology. Gen X are very active streaming, using email and even on social media; in fact, almost half report spending over an hour a day on their smart phone.  

Gen X and Gamification 

So by now we know that the inflexible and traditional Gen Xer is a myth, but gaming? That might just be too immature for a workforce over 40. The data tells us that this is yet another myth.  

In fact, 46% of Gen Xers polled reported playing online games at least on a weekly basis. In addition, Generation X are the original creators of the entire movement! The internet was created by Generation X, why would it be too ‘young’ for us?  

Gen X’s Adaptability  

As frequently mentioned throughout the article, we know that Gen X has a faulty reputation for being unwilling to adapt. Generation X is often lumped into Baby Boomer’s hesitation to interact with technology and adjust with the times; let’s put an end to that myth today.  

When I’m once again asked the inevitable question about older employees resisting ZIZO, I think I can confidently respond that Gen X won’t have a problem adapting to a better way to work. At this point, I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you yet again that members of Gen X have lived through many major transitions in our world. The generation is one of the most adaptable and neutral groups in the workforce, so no, I don’t think they’ll be a squeaky wheel when ZIZO arrives on their desks.  

How to Retain Millennial Employees

  • Enhance Company Culture
  • Be Flexible
  • Change Up Your Leadership Style
  • Promote Wellness

As of 2017, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) made up 35% of the workforce. While the tides have shifted over the past few years as the younger generation Z has joined the workforce, millennials remain the largest cohort in today’s workplace. Despite the large population of millennials working, the average tenure of a millennial worker is only 3-4 years (industry dependent). This high attrition rate is costly for employers, replacing a millennial employee can cost upwards of $15,000; so how can workforce managers an HR professionals hire and retain millennial employees?

Enhance Company Culture

Millennial employees thrive on the feeling of being valued, they traditionally prefer an emotional reward over a monetary one. This factor drives millennial job seekers to be critical of employers who don’t have a strong company culture.

Companies looking to appeal to millennial employees should focus on cultivating a culture which makes every employee feel that they’re important. One of the top contributors to employee unhappiness is a lack of growth opportunities or challenges; as an employer, provide you’re well performing employees with opportunities for upward growth, this is extremely valuable to millennials.

Positive culture can also be reinforced by encouraging your employees to explore opportunities elsewhere. This may feel counterintuitive, but millennials value feeling supported so much that they’re more likely to stay with a company which encourages them to leave to make positive career moves than they are to stay with a company that they feel does not support them in a positive career move.

Be Flexible

Millennial employees value flexibility in the workplace and they’ll prioritize a workplace which can offer them this luxury. Consider schedules that go beyond the M-F 9-5. Are there opportunities for remote work? Let your employees take advantage of the possibilities, they’ll value this trust and flexibility!

Change Up Your Leadership Style

As previously mentioned, millennial employees do best when they feel like they’re a part of something important, this includes their workplace relationships. Leaders looking to bolster their millennial workforce should approach employee relationships as coaches or mentors, rather than the traditional ‘boss’. Millennials will appreciate the respect and more meaningful relationships at work.

Strong employee-boss relationships reinforce millennial’s feelings of trust and respect, which makes them more likely to work independently and feel more accountable at work.

Promote Wellness

By now you’ve probably noticed the trend of promoting wellness in the workplace, this is great for attracting millennial employees!

Along with their desire to be a part of something important, millennials also value a company which cares about them. Put an anti-burnout plan or policy in place to encourage your team to maintain healthy work habits. Provide your employees with opportunities to relax and unwind while taking care of their physical or emotional health. A company’s involvement in their millennial employee’s wellness will lead them to appreciate and feel more connected to their employer.

Millennial employees value experiences over objects, provide your team with the opportunity for adventurous team outings or trips. This will benefit their mental health while increasing their connection to the company.

Although generation Z is making a major entrance into the workplace, millennials will be carrying our economy for many years to come. Any company that aims to continue growing a full staff of talent must ensure they’re implementing appeals to the millennial generation. Wooing a candidate is not enough, company-wide efforts must be made in order to retain millennial talent.