Performance Cup: how apples and pears grow during the competition



“Oh no, there we go again!” It’s a hard job motivating the average employee to take part in yet another improvement programme. Sounds familiar? Well, try doing it through Gamification instead. As soon as you turn it into a competition, people suddenly see the fun side and you can achieve change rather more easily. What’s more, the Performance Cup’s results would convince anyone.   

Whatever age you are and however seriously you take your profession, you never forget what it’s like to play. That’s just as well, as far as Gamification enthusiasts are concerned. After all, gaming isn’t just fun and educational; you can also use it to change behaviours that otherwise would remain the same or only alter extremely slowly.

How this works can best be illustrated by a practical example: the Performance Cup, a game that turns change into a competition. During the Performance Cup, teams from different organisations and branches (apples and pears) come together to compete against one another. They each do their best to reach their own improvement goal, and measure their growth against KPIs that they have chosen themselves. And it works. All the teams and their participants grow. The team that reaches its goals the fastest, thereby demonstrating the steepest learning curve, walks off with the Cup.

Top-class sport The developers of the Performance Cup took their inspiration from top-class sport. What’s more, lots of top-class sportsmen and women join in too. At the start of each new mission (of which there are five), a top sportsperson shares their secret. For instance, Roline Repelaer van Driel, who used to be a top-class rower, speaks in a video about her results-focused approach to the Olympic Games. She then translates this in a very engaging way into achievement-oriented behaviour in the workplace, before giving participants the accompanying task: to come up with a goal that truly appeals to them.

The Performance Cup jury also largely consists of organisational specialists who used to play sport at the highest level. Their influence becomes apparent within the game itself, as the teams need to achieve a sporting goal they have chosen themselves. People come up with ideas such as walking up ten sets of stairs or doing ten thousand steps a day, but more original ideas are welcome. You even get bonus points for them.

Better, higher, steeper During the Performance Cup, teams from within one firm can play against one another, but there are other ways of playing it too. Recently, three teams from three different companies competed against one another: an insurance firm, a local council and a transport business.

The winner wasn’t the team that performed the best; rather, it was the team that improved the fastest. In the organisor’s words, it was ‘the team with the steepest learning curve’.

Great fun, but what do you actually get out of it? Measurable results are the name of the game in the Performance Cup. For example, improvements in customer performance can be measured by a rise in customer satisfaction or a reduction in waiting times. Add in the points for suggesting the sportiest and most original contributions to the challenge, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Or, as one manager who took part put it, ‘I’ve spent the past two years challenging people to improve by using Lean ideas. With the Performance Cup, it only took 16 weeks.

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About the author

I believe it's always possible to do things better: for ourselves, for a colleague or customer, and for the world around us. That's where I want to make my contribution. What's more, we should have fun and enjoy life. After all, "Life is too short to drink bad wine".

Go to Arjon van Lieshout
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