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Corporate Gaming Is Good For Business

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the just-doing-my-part,-boss dept.

Businesses 151

The Economist is running a story about how gaming is on the rise in corporate environments, and how games are also becoming a popular tool for advertising. From internally developed games to commercial offerings to simply creating a framework in which employees can interact, game-based competitions and community building are leading to increased productivity, even for Fortune 500 companies. Quoting: "Take Microsoft's own experience. Before it releases a new version of its Windows operating system, it asks staff to help debug the software by installing and running the system. In the past, project managers had to spend a great deal of time and effort persuading busy Microsoftees to help them with this boring task. So for Windows Vista, the system's latest incarnation, Microsoft created a game that awarded points for bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled."

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151 comments

Makes a lot of sense (1, Offtopic)

ilovesymbian (1341639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769039)

This makes a lot of sense.

A lot of companies like Microsoft have areas for playing other games like table tennis, snooker, etc. So why not have room for other kinds of games as well?

And having the games linked to work output would increase in productivity.

Just my 2 cents.

Re:Makes a lot of sense (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769527)

What they're talking about is that it is more productive to present some boring task in game form than it is to just require people to do it.

A spoon full of sugar does indeed make the medicine go down...It's about time corporations clued in to this basic facet of human existence. Work is work, and play is play, and if work can be a little like play, people will work more.

Re:Makes a lot of sense (4, Funny)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770667)

The problem being that the accounting department has been grinding productivity marks all day, and now are fully clothed in epic accounting gear.

Now we in the engineering department can't go to the water cooler without being ganked. :P

Re:Makes a lot of sense (5, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769547)

It did marvels for Vista indeed.

Re:Makes a lot of sense (5, Funny)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770159)

Yeah, I'm wondering if those "bracelets" were the shiny metal kind that take keys... and that's how they kept Vista testers at it. I can't imagine any other way to get people to actually use it :-)

Obligatory comment (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769045)

"Participation quadrupled"

so did the bugs

Re:Obligatory comment (4, Interesting)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769375)

Re:Obligatory comment (2, Insightful)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769729)

and that's why they used wristbands in microsoft's environment, not money. while you can reach a point where you say: "okay, that's it, i've got enough microsoft-branded wristbands and gimmicks", the same does not apply to money and useful gadgets you can sell.

if microsoft isn't offering anything that'd actually sell well as a reward, it'd make a decent system. it shows appreciation without being efficiently exploitable.

Well duh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769067)

So for Windows Vista, the system's latest incarnation, Microsoft created a game that awarded points for bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled.

If they award points for finding bugs, of course participation is going to go up. It's so easy.

Re:Well duh (4, Funny)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769265)

So, google has this [snopes.com] for employees, and microsoft gives away wristbands?

Explains a lot.

Re:Well duh (1)

triso (67491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770395)

So, google has this [snopes.com] for employees, and microsoft gives away wristbands? .

Microsoft should give away armbands [digidiary.co.uk] instead.

Re:Well duh (2, Funny)

Xelios (822510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770419)

But now Microsoft employees have one thing Google employees don't: strong wrists.

QA (1)

steeljaw (65872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769073)

>>So for Windows Vista, the system's latest incarnation, Microsoft created a game that awarded points for bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled.

There may have been a lot of participation, but in Vista's case QA went right out the Window(tm) ;)

Re:QA (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769143)

I can only assume the Microsoft example is meant to serve as an illustration as to why you shouldn't entrust your QA to whatever random employees you can convince to run your software in exchange for lame prizes.

Re:QA (2, Informative)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769477)

Or perhaps if you were found with less than 5 wristbands, your performance review/raise was horrible, and chances of getting canned were more likely?

Re:QA (4, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769771)

Only 5? Hmmm... You know, I really want my employees to express themselves. If you think that 5 pieces of flair is enough just because you're getting by and doing the bare minimum, I'm a little disappointed. We really want to encourage team players. ;-)

Re:QA (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769657)

There is a difference between a "bug" and a poor design decision. For a Windows release, Vista isn't all that buggy, it's just user-hostile. You certainly can't blame them for the driver issues that caused most of the bugs early on.

Awarding points? (5, Funny)

billlava (1270394) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769079)

Awarding points for participation is rarely the most effective way to get people involved. Modded +5 insightful

Re:Awarding points? (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769325)

Just like Slashdot what will happen is people will do what it will take to get the points. So say you got a point for each bug found. You find one bug, assume this bug is called from multiple spots. Call this bug on each spot and report it for every occurrence and rack up points. Vs. saying it is just one bug.

The same thing happens on Slashdot, if you want the points then you better make sure your post is Pro-Linux and GPL. Trying to show that Windows may be better in some circumstances or the GPL as many flaws and in some ways it contradicts its core values will not lead to points. Thus discouraged and reducing objectivity in an open forum.

Re:Awarding points? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769785)

Does your post count as irony?

Re:Awarding points? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769917)

I think it's just an exceedingly long paraphrase of "I know I'll get modded down for this..."

Re:Awarding points? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769853)

The GPL is like the worlds most perfect diamond, the only flaws are in the reflection of the viewer.

Also, no one objects when people point out windows is better for gaming, because that's obviously true.

Re:Awarding points? (3, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769869)

The same thing happens on Slashdot, if you want the points then you better make sure your post is Pro-Linux and GPL. Trying to show that Windows may be better in some circumstances or the GPL as many flaws and in some ways it contradicts its core values will not lead to points. Thus discouraged and reducing objectivity in an open forum.

Yeah, but here it's sometimes really satisfying to be modded Troll or Flamebait. I've got some unpopular opinions here that I fly proudly and it doesn't bother me at all to smell the karma burn (I'm one of those people that think that music/movie/software piracy should remain illegal and am convinced that pirates hurt the industries - Gasp!)

It's actually kind of the same here at work. We often have crossword puzzles or word hunts that we can do in hopes of some cheesy prize. Mine get shredded - If I'm at work and wasting time, I'll be posting here or reading the news - Otherwise I'll be working. The same with the safety-awareness games and similar - Those are what get me in trouble. Just because I don't want to waste time playing safety-Pictionary doesn't mean I'm not committed to safety, it just means that I consider most of the games a waste.

Although if there was some interesting prize (not a plastic bracelet) that I could earn just by doing my job well or taking on a couple of extra tasks (beta-testing, whatever), I may be tempted.

Re:Awarding points? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770083)

Wow, I thought I was the only one here who though piracy was and should remain illegal. Then I got sorta burned by yahoo's music service going down. So now I hate piracy and drm (I guess that means amazon mp3 for me) . But you really shouldn't feel proud about getting karma burned. I don't consider my opinions to be for my own benefit only. I want to convince other people to see things the same way I do. So if I'm getting modded down, I'm not doing a very good job presenting the argument. You will see my posts and others that disagree with the majority getting modded up occasionally for being ... well, insightful.

Re:Awarding points? (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769887)

Just like Slashdot what will happen is people will do what it will take to get the points. So say you got a point for each bug found. You find one bug, assume this bug is called from multiple spots. Call this bug on each spot and report it for every occurrence and rack up points. Vs. saying it is just one bug.

The same thing happens on Slashdot, if you want the points then you better make sure your post is Pro-Linux and GPL. Trying to show that Windows may be better in some circumstances or the GPL as many flaws and in some ways it contradicts its core values will not lead to points. Thus discouraged and reducing objectivity in an open forum.

My experience with a similar program generally contradicts this. Most people don't want to think too deeply about the bugs they submit; the just want to get get credit for finding the problem. I've seen a few folks get overzealous and submit questionable bugs, but most people are just interested in reporting the bug quickly and going about their business.

Of course, depending on how you do the point system, you could have folks who get really abuse the system, but if they are few, those can be fairly easily identified and/or reined in.

Re:Awarding points? (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770161)

Ah, but it's not just limited to Microsoft and Linux. I would add the following to the list:
1. Ron Paul and Libertarian ideals
2. Making a joke relating to masturbation
3. Talking about how evil software patents, and patents in general, are
4. Telling of how the RIAA is pure evil

For those of you who are hyper-sensitive: this post is not a criticism, but merely a realistic statement of fact.

Do you know people from our QA group (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770217)

'cause I once got a set of bugs against my documentation where each instance of the same typo (a function name) on the same page was entered as a separate bug. Wow, you guys found 5 bugs today! What phenomenal QA work.

Whichever dimwitted misanthrope came up with "number of bugs found" as a metric for QA "engineers" should be shot. And then drawn and quartered. And then dipped in boiling oil. And then forced to use Vista for a month.

In politics, too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769679)

Not to mention what the McCain campaign [slashdot.org] is doing. Their supporters were effluent with praise!

Yeah... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769083)

So for Windows Vista, the system's latest incarnation, Microsoft created a game that awarded points for bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled.

There's a piece of genius there... Worked like a charm. Keep it up.

 

Obligatory Dilbert cartoon... (4, Funny)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769189)

Re:Obligatory Dilbert cartoon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769337)

Hate to break this to you, but your hotlinking appears to be prohibited ;)

Re:Obligatory Dilbert cartoon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769397)

Try just pasting the URL into your browser's address bar instead:

http://www.flubu.com/comics/dilbert2.gif

G.O.O.D Job (4, Funny)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769087)

I know a good game, one that really motivates me to work more. It's called "Show Me The Money".

I thought they would speak about the need for good 3D cards in office boxen for lunch-time BF1942 smash-up between coworkers. This is boring. Corporate games as they describe it, are for suckers.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (5, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769185)

Agreed. I've never understood when companies try to play stupid morale games with their employees, rather than doing the obvious things. Pay them more, make their job more interesting to them, make sure their boss isn't a jerk. If my company started trying to play morale games with me, I'd just feel insulted, not uplifted.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (1)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769461)

It's because it's cheaper, easier, and makes the person who came up with the idea look good for trying something new and innovative to improve morale (ignoring the fact that the idea doesn't work).

Re:G.O.O.D Job (4, Insightful)

eht (8912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769497)

Because often morale games work, would you rather have the cube, the office, or the corner office? How about free coffee and soda?

I can tell you right now taking away those things will lose you more people than simply not giving out raises that year instead.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (2, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769589)

Yeah, I tend to react negatively when I notice people playing stupid little psychological games with me. Forced "fun" at work is one of my least favorite of them (and one of the most common).

Some work environments are genuinely fun. Some work environments are "fun" as defined by whatever "cutting-edge" management book the boss happens to be reading at that time.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (1)

knarfling (735361) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769867)

Because money does not equal happiness, nor does money lead to happiness, and many companies know this. Some of them also know that happiness often leads to money.

If you are happy at work, you will work harder, be more productive and more loyal. How many times have people left large paying jobs that made them miserable and took a pay cut to do work that makes them happy?

Money does not lead to happiness. Money only leads to wanting more money. Most people that say they would be happier with more money are really only fooling themselves. Yes, they would be happier for a short time. For a little while, they will say, "Well, now that I am getting more money, I will put up with this lousy situation." But it doesn't last! Within a couple of months that extra money is being spent, people come to expect that they should be getting that "extra" money without having to put up with the bad situation, and the complaining starts all over again.

Many companies also realize that they cannot make you happy. No one but you can make you happy. What they can do is try to remove obstacles to happiness, and create an environment where people want to work. One way to do that is to try to create ways for employees to have fun together. but everyone's idea of fun is different, and what is fun for you may be misery for someone else.

I am not saying that money is not important. On the contrary, money is very important. Money will cover up a few bad situations, and your basic needs must be met or all the morale games in the world will not help. But there has to be a balance between pay, work done and happiness. Lots of companies struggle with with this balance, some paying salaries so high that they run into financial trouble.

I may not agree with the actual games that are played, but I understand the reason for them. My solution? Suggest things that you would find fun. That may be anything from lunch time FPS games, to more holiday parties at work to having a TV in the break room. Whatever it is, suggest positive ideas rather than complaining that they are trying to have fun at work.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770043)

I know money doesn't equal happiness. That's why I didn't just say "pay more money". That is part of the balance, because having money is a part of happiness. But I pointed out, in my post, other things that can improve morale that aren't pandering.

Whatever it is, suggest positive ideas rather than complaining that they are trying to have fun at work.

I'm not, I'm complaining that they're treating their employees like children, who need to be coaxed into doing their jobs, and then expecting it to increase morale. For all I know, it does: maybe some people like being treated as children rather than equals. But it sure seems idiotic and disrespectful to me.

Re:G.O.O.D Job (1)

TravisO (979545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770627)

No, what's stupid is thinking you can merely "throw money at a problem". Trust me, if you dislike your job, giving you a $5k or $10k raise may sound great at first, but it won't make you're job any less distasteful, stressful, meaningless, dysfunctional, etc. Not to mention after you get use to the new salary, it will be a non-issue, that takes all of 2 months at most.

Not that silly HR morale tricks are any better, but they're cheaper, and that saves the bottom line, which is actually a good thing. You do want them to be able to still have money to pay you next week, right?

Usually the real solution would take an understanding that they don't have. Often the people who would need to approve of changes, or the ones who need to be changed (see: canned). Nobody is going to sign their own pink slip, generally trouble makes have no idea they are the trouble, they just see you as the problem.

Vista (2, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769095)

I'm not really sure how to take the news that bug testing in Vista was quadrupled.

Where they focused more on the game than on actual bug testing?
Where there that many bugs that a quadrupled test force still allowed it to be shipped as it was?

I mean really...I don't know what to think other than they should have released a better product if they had quadruple the bug testing as previous versions. With any luck those wristbands were actually shock collars to deal with the consequences of allowing so many bugs to go out the door.

Re:Vista (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769165)

> I'm not really sure how to take the news that bug testing in Vista was quadrupled.

That's not exactly what they said. They said that employee participation quadrupled. Since employees are not focused testers, they likely hit the same bugs, resulting in many reports for the same, easy to find top level bugs resulting from mostly normal use.

The amount of effort hitting deeper levels likely didn't change much.

Note that the focus of this article is that the rewards upped participation. Microsoft's direction of focusing that increased participation may not have been ideal, but the method clearly accomplished its goal.

Re:Vista (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770077)

I bet if they offered a years salary for finding a bug that lead to system level access they would have even more deeper level testing.

Re:Vista (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769509)

I'm not really sure how to take the news that bug testing in Vista was quadrupled.

Here's one possible way to take it: all the people who were supposed to be fixing the bugs instead got involved in the competition to find them. Results: a buggy release with an internal buglist 20 miles long. I mean, who wouldn't rather sit around pointing out what's wrong than be productive about making it right? If you can win prizes for doing so, all the better! Guess that's why SP1 has been so popular. Maybe a few of them got put back on fixing detail.

Attention spans (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769097)

Just another indication of attention spans going into the toilet. Who needs obsolete stuff like real human-to-human meatspace interaction and being rewarded after the completion of a task.

"When life is just a game, who's to blame?" -- Green Jelly

Results? (5, Insightful)

Cyner (267154) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769123)

Participation may have quadrupled, but what about productivity or tangible results?

Re:Results? (3, Insightful)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769229)

No, this is awesome.

"Dude! Office just ate the report for the stockholders and corrupted all my working copies! I've gotta get last year's copy from backups and hope neither God nor the SEC catch me! I'm gonna win for sure!"

Unless your company is playing The Game, which you just lost. And your only hope of regaining your standings is to mod me up. I think I'll take Insightful? That sounds good.

Re:Results? (2, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769419)

You have to be careful not to breed a Defect Black Market [thedailywtf.com]

Basically, you have developers colluding with testers. The developer intentionally drops a minor bug into the system (inverting an AND and OR, for example). The tester magically "finds" it. The tester gets the reward, and splits it with the developer. Repeat until the system is scrapped.

Re:Results? (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770303)

Participation may have quadrupled, but what about productivity or tangible results?

Well, it quadrupled from 1 to 4, so there were negligible effects on productivity.

Frequent crashes (1)

Heston (1122839) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769133)

Reports noted that the Microsoft games were crashing frequently - Users were told to reinstall their operating system.

OMG, ponies, er, wristbands. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769135)

> Microsoft created a game that awarded points for
> bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for
> achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled."

I predict Been-there-done-that syndrome. It'll work the first couple of times.

Wristbands? (1)

Underfoot (1344699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769137)

Sure I'll spend extra hours out of my day debugging vast company code to get some of that super-sweet wristband good-ness. I mean, who needs money or time with your family when you can have wristbands!

Re:Wristbands? (1)

ajmilton (975709) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769499)

I can see the wristbands now. "WWMSD"
All the trendy highschoolers will beg their folks to report bugs so they can walk around and say "What Would Microsoft Do"

And it worked.... (4, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769141)

just fine.

See how good Vista is?

One place I worked we had 'suggestion drives'. You got prizes for making suggestions, and such. The only result is that we got deluged with worthless suggestions - and we'd have to spend days writing justifications for denying totally boneheaded ideas.

I'd love to see the quality of the bug reports they got as a result.

Re:And it worked.... (0, Troll)

binner1 (516856) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769565)

I actually took this to mean that even MS employees needed a bribe to run Vista! :) *ducks*

-Ben

Risk vs. Reward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769145)

So I get the chance to let Microsoft's new OS accidentally trash my system, getting me in no end of trouble, for the chance to win prizes?

Bah, who needs discretion?

Re:Risk vs. Reward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769203)

Not just any prizes, mind you - wristbands! I'm getting wet just thinking about it!

Reminds me of an old Dilbert (2, Funny)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769217)

in which the employee who fixed the most bugs won a car.

When asked what he was up to Wally said,"I'm coding up a Lexus!"

Re:Reminds me of an old Dilbert (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769731)

They got paid per bug fix, and Wally was coding himself a Winnebago.

Winnebago being a funnier word.

Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769225)

The game is now 99% bug free!

Oh... you mean we were supposed to debug Windows?

Pussy Nazi Sez (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769277)

No pussy for YOU!

Napoleon invented gamer accomplishments (4, Insightful)

BForrester (946915) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769365)

"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon" - Napoleon

The concept has been long-observed that people will work their asses off for a symbol of accomplishment.

Man invented religious symbols. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24770089)

"The concept has been long-observed that people will work their asses off for a symbol of accomplishment."

Sistine Chapel.

Re:Napoleon invented gamer accomplishments (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770367)

I've heard it paraphrased as "Give me enough medals and I'll conquer the world"

Except there's a difference here: when you see some guy wearing a CMH or Silver Star, you know that what he did really was above and beyond what your average citizen would do. Putting his body between his beloved home and war's desolation, and all that.

When you see some guy walking around the Redmond campus with 12 wristbands, you know he did what? Screwed off with Vista for a couple of weeks?

I find it surprising that Microsofties are that silly, but maybe I shouldn't.

Re:Napoleon invented gamer accomplishments (3, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770375)

How does that reconcile with this one? A man does not have himself killed for a half-pence a day or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify him .Napoleon

Re:Napoleon invented gamer accomplishments (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770443)

Sometimes that symbol is worth more than the actual compensation for the work, it really depends on how it's used. For instance I could get paid to work a minimum wage job or I could earn some Honors certificate for grades. The latter makes me unique among a crowd and could actually lead to better opportunities whereas the former would just get me by to the next drone job. While money may be greater than the worth of the symbol, the symbol's power over people may be greater than money.

Part of a Larger Principle (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769367)

I think the idea here of gaming that motivates, is part of a larger principle. That people will value doing things that they perceive will deliver value back to them. In other words, the ideal of selfishness, because nobody wants to row the boat just because an asshole beats a drum and cracks a whip.

Stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769371)

When stories like this get on the front page, I start to wonder if Slashdot has stopped showing "news for geeks", and started showing stories that reinforce its readers beliefs. Only give people what they want to read, indeed.

Re:Stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24770219)

When stories like this get on the front page, I start to wonder if Slashdot has stopped showing "news for geeks"

Yeah, they moved on to 'news for nerds' a while ago.

Make the employee feel valued (4, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769373)

Anything a company can do that shows they aren't just a replaceable grunt leads to better morale. A good company will make great efforts to express their gratitude to the employees for being there and making the company what is has become. More often than not, though, you have companies who treat their employees as thin mints. Use them for a while, then spit them out, because, "you can always be replaced." Picnics, luncheons, gift cards, on-line game tournaments...if this is what it takes to encourage more productivity, then do it! Productive workers make a company more money.

Re:Make the employee feel valued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24770037)

From: Patterson,Neal

To: DL_ALL_MANAGERS;

Subject: MANAGEMENT DIRECTIVE: Week #10_01: Fix it or changes will be made

Importance: High

To the KC_based managers:

I have gone over the top. I have been making this point for over one year.

We are getting less than 40 hours of work from a large number of our KC-based EMPLOYEES. The parking lot is sparsely used at 8AM; likewise at 5PM. As managers -- you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing; or YOU do not CARE. You have created expectations on the work effort which allowed this to happen inside Cerner, creating a very unhealthy environment. In either case, you have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you.

NEVER in my career have I allowed a team which worked for me to think they had a 40 hour job. I have allowed YOU to create a culture which is permitting this. NO LONGER.

At the end of next week, I am plan to implement the following:

1. Closing of Associate Center to EMPLOYEES from 7:30AM to 6:30PM.

2. Implementing a hiring freeze for all KC based positions. It will require Cabinet approval to hire someone into a KC based team. I chair our Cabinet.

3. Implementing a time clock system, requiring EMPLOYEES to 'punch in' and 'punch out' to work. Any unapproved absences will be charged to the EMPLOYEES vacation.

4. We passed a Stock Purchase Program, allowing for the EMPLOYEE to purchase Cerner stock at a 15% discount, at Friday's BOD meeting. Hell will freeze over before this CEO implements ANOTHER EMPLOYEE benefit in this Culture.

5. Implement a 5% reduction of staff in KC.

6. I am tabling the promotions until I am convinced that the ones being promoted are the solution, not the problem. If you are the problem, pack you bags.

I think this parental type action SUCKS. However, what you are doing, as managers, with this company makes me SICK. It makes sick to have to write this directive.

I know I am painting with a broad brush and the majority of the KC based associates are hard working, committed to Cerner success and committed to transforming health care. I know the parking lot is not a great measurement for 'effort'. I know that 'results' is what counts, not 'effort'. But I am through with the debate.

We have a big vision. It will require a big effort. Too many in KC are not making the effort.

I want to hear from you. If you think I am wrong with any of this, please state your case. If you have some ideas on how to fix this problem, let me hear those. I am very curious how you think we got here. If you know team members who are the problem, let me know. Please include (copy) Kynda in all of your replies.

I STRONGLY suggest that you call some 7AM, 6PM and Saturday AM team meetings with the

EMPLOYEES who work directly for you. Discuss this serious issue with your team. I suggest that you call your first meeting -- tonight. Something is going to change.

I am giving you two weeks to fix this. My measurement will be the parking lot: it should be substantially full at 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM. The pizza man should show up at 7:30 PM to feed the starving teams working late. The lot should be half full on Saturday mornings. We have a lot of work to do. If you do not have enough to keep your teams busy, let me know immediately.

Folks this is a management problem, not an EMPLOYEE problem. Congratulations, you are management. You have the responsibility for our EMPLOYEES. I will hold you accountable. You have allowed this to get to this state. You have two weeks. Tick, tock.

Neal ..

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Cerner Corporation www.cerner.com

2800 Rockcreek Parkway; Kansas City, Missouri 64117

"We Make Health Care Smarter"

Re:Make the employee feel valued (3, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770069)

The problems is when they provide picnics, luncheons, gift cards, on-line game tournaments...AND treat their employees like replacable grunts. And they wonder why their "incentives" aren't making their people happy.

Sad... (1)

Pollux (102520) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769403)

It's sad when we can no longer convince Americans that the work that they do is work that they should want to do because it's what the company pays them to do.

Now, Americans are convinced that work must be entertaining, enjoyable, and come with a reward that is supplemental to the salary that they work for.

What's going to happen next? Will workers at McDonalds not serve us unless we dangle a dollar in their face and tell them, "If my meal is ready in the next 60 seconds, you get this reward?"

Re:Sad... (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769559)

It's sad when we can no longer convince Americans that the work that they do is work that they should want to do because it's what the company pays them to do.

Now, Americans are convinced that work must be entertaining, enjoyable, and come with a reward that is supplemental to the salary that they work for.

What's going to happen next? Will workers at McDonalds not serve us unless we dangle a dollar in their face and tell them, "If my meal is ready in the next 60 seconds, you get this reward?"

It's because companies no longer have any loyalty to their workers. Why are you suprised that workers have no loyalty to their company? People who work hard still get outsourced so why try.

Re:Sad... (4, Insightful)

edraven (45764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769571)

What planet are you from? When did humans ever do work they didn't have to do because they were supposed to do it? It's not like the company doesn't play the same game in reverse. They may keep you at a lower wage by promising retirement benefits, but then outsource your job to another country before they have to pay those benefits. There's no altruism in business, and there never has been.

Re:Sad... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769711)

Oh jeez..
These people have a thousand priorities to manage, and get called to task when there late, even if it is the fault of a manager changing priorities.

So get this 60 hours done this week, AND find time to test.

Comparing this work to taking order at McDonalds is laughable.

Inspiration (1)

lessthanpi (1333061) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769411)

Wow. I guess I might end up getting a job after all, if work is just a game. Maybe I'll move out of the basement of my parents house too...

--
Burninating the peasants

Coming Soon to X-Box Live! (1)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769483)

Vista Whack-a-Bug! Enjoy this new game from Microsoft where you try to smash every bug from Vista before the end of service life timer runs out. Featuring 45,000 unique levels as well as multi-player levels for no more than 10 simultaneous players!

A great game for only 3000 points!

Welcome to Japan 10 years ago... (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769545)

...you short-sighted bean-counting jackasses. I hate you. Where the hell is my cellular porn?

Free beer is best (1)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769557)

Many years ago (well I can date this to around 1981) P.J. Brown wrote a comment in his book "Writing Interactive Compilers and Interpreters" that you ought to offer a free beer to any user of your program who finds a bug - along with a comment that many software houses would have to buy a brewery. Seems that nothing has changed (except that Microsoft would probably need to buy this [wikipedia.org] small outfit ...)

Andy

Positive feed back is cheap. (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769579)

I run the protein folding software on my PS3 cause they give me points.
lovely lovely points.

looks like (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769583)

no one took much interest in the bug fixing game.

then again I hear chair-toss is a fairly popular redmond game.

More valuable Microsoft QA (0, Flamebait)

FilterMapReduce (1296509) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769585)

So for Windows Vista, the system's latest incarnation, Microsoft created a game that awarded points for bug-testing and prizes such as wristbands for achieving certain goals. Participation quadrupled.

And nothing of value was gained.

Will Disney execs read this and go "huh?" (1)

OpenYourEyes (563714) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769643)

It is a shame so many companies just don't get it, still. Disney recently killed its Virtual Magic Kingdom advergame because the corporate executives didn't understand how it could actually make them money. So while Webkinz cleaned their clock, Disney execs forked over $700M for Club Penguin and ignored the product they already had.

Silly PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769659)

Classic trend manufacturing. No doubt pitched by companies who organize these games to manaufacture a trend and create a perception of popularity with a few isolated examples.

This are the sort of blatant PR masquerading as news of features that have ruined the credibility of the old media, It happens on the web too of course but its too dissipated to succeed in creating a false perception.

Economist may not be the best example cause they do have good content but most business mags are one big pr exercise. The old media is well on its way to irrelevance. Good riddance.

Cuz, gee, wristbands = $$$ (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769669)

Greg Mankiw was right.

Economics is a load of bullshit.

If you can quadruple productivity of well-paid individuals by giving them junk jewelry and alpha-wave stimulation, then you really shouldn't have had to pay them well in the first place.

Re:Cuz, gee, wristbands = $$$ (2, Informative)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770111)

They didn't quadruple productivity, they quadrupled participation in the program. Participation and productivity are different metrics.

Economics only seems like a load of bullshit if you don't understand it and don't make an attempt to.

It amy ahve quadrupled (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769673)

becasue management made a big deal out of it.

It's like when they were studying ways to increase productivity at Ford when the noticed dimming the lights a little bit increased performance.
What was actually happening was that the employees realized they were being watched and stepped up the appearance of production.
This turned out to be a short term effect.

Rolling D&D monsters to learn a new system (19 (4, Interesting)

bfwebster (90513) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769751)

Back when I was fresh out of college (graduated in 1978), I found myself constantly having to learn new operating systems (mostly mainframe and minicomputer), new editors, new compilers (and languages), and so on. Heck, in my first year out of college, while at General Dynamics/WDSC, I worked on four different computers (CDC mainframe, Perkin-Elmer minicomputers, a Harris hybrid analog/digital computer, and some other mini-computer that I can't remember at the moment -- other than that I could tell what stage the compilie/link process was in by the noise the hard drive [5 MB and occupying a box the size of a 2-drawer file cabinet] was making).

So, one of my 'coming-up-to-speed' techniques was to write a program that interested me. In this case, I wrote a program that would randomly roll up and print out D&D monsters and NPCs, complete with stats. By the time I had that program working, I pretty much knew how to use the system and how to do software development on it. I think I still have some of those printouts in my files at home. ..bruce..

Call of Duty (1)

punkr0x (945364) | more than 5 years ago | (#24769913)

I thought this article was going to be like that episode of the Office where they all play call of duty. Um.. sniper rifle.

Vista (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24769973)

If the Vista experience tells anything, that's probably that the boring, systematic professional quality testing is not really replaceable by in-house bug-testing game.

Advertising through fun, of course it works! (2, Funny)

houbou (1097327) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770391)

Obviously, promoting a business or a product through the use of a web based game, of course it makes sense! The trick is to create a game appropriate to the business and/or product you wish to push onto people.

It's a nice form of advertising and most of all, it provides a strong form of interaction. Imagine a game to promote Vista.

You make it work on other platforms, say on Mac and/or Linux :) The object of the game is to shoot off boxes that represent all non-Windows based OS off the screen. Kinda like a duck hunt or shooting gallery based game :) you lose points when you shoot Vista boxes!

:P

Yeah you have to remove spyware to play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24770431)

Yeah in order to compete in games you have to actually remove the spyware from your computer to make it faster, wow look more profit.

Vista? (1)

moyboy (913127) | more than 5 years ago | (#24770523)

They played this game while testing vista, this totally explains the stock jump of 8000% in wrist band manufacturing...
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