What the enterprise can learn from Massively Multiplayer Games

And what's good for the guild in World of Warcraft is good for the enterprise

Effective collaboration is essential to achieving synergistic productivity rewards. And what's good for the guild in World of Warcraft is good for the enterprise -- especially those that, dispersed or lean, struggle with diseconomies of scale.

What makes MMGs (massively multiplayer games) such as World of Warcraft a passion for many is that it provides an emotionally secure environment in which they can define themselves from birth, frequently down to the way they look. What's more, although MMGs offer varying levels of rules, all -- from Avatar to Second Life to Sokker -- are designed to be far more predictable than real life.

But what fuels the addiction is interactivity. Enterprises looking to improve collaboration initiatives could benefit by examining what makes MMGs sticky.

First, MMGs feature token economies -- currencies that have value only internally -- for acquisition of pleasures or status. Knowledge acquisition and sharing apps, such as wikis, help databases, and sales contact spreadsheets, where the effort to populate is personal but the rewards are groupwide, are ripe for this model. Recognition and token rewards can be powerful -- and not costly -- incentives to get input flowing quickly, ultimately to the benefit of all involved.

What's more, the social structure of most MMGs includes mixers -- "clans" or "guilds" that draw people together almost randomly, creating connections that would not exist otherwise. In many settings, you can increase group cohesion, especially within apps that share real-time interaction, such as CRM, BPM, and knowledge management systems, by creating gently competitive cross-departmental tribes.

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