BUSINESS MARKETING: Let's play a game

2013-12-14T10:21:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: Let's play a gameLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
December 14, 2013 10:21 am  • 

In every business there are a number of long, mindless, slogging, dull, repetitive tasks.

After a short time people doing them get bored, their concentration wanders and eventually they start slowing down and making errors (don’t ask me how I know this). It even happens doing interesting, exciting but repetitious tasks

Early in my career I supervised a group of people doing an assembly process. The goal I was given was to improve production and reduce errors. The key to succeeding was to keep the staff concentrating on what they were doing instead of having their eyes glaze over and doing their job while sleepwalking.

It took me a while to figure out how to improve both productivity and quality. The key was to design an element of fun into the task by creating games out of the work and to introduce an element of teamwork so there would be some peer pressure to perform at a uniform high level.

The games started out with a base of standardized production and quality. As an example, if the baseline calculation showed the team produced 100 widgets in an hour without error then we set a goal of a reasonable increase in production, say 110 widgets per hour. To keep the crew concentrating, we would record the production every 10 minutes so they could see whether they were ahead or behind goal. When they won there would be a reward of a bonus or pizza brought in. I’ve seen similar projects in much more sophisticated places with monitors showing constant real-time production levels.

I’ve also seen these “games” played in many types of businesses – in sales (closing ratios), in data entry (throughput metrics), call centers (calls per hour) and even hospital surgeries (procedures without error).

The key is to design the game to force concentration on the key elements like speed, quality, etc., and then create a stick and carrot system to reinforce the desired improvement. If you can make it more interesting, even fun, it will be more successful because everyone likes to win. And when they win, you win.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Get Galler’s new free special report,  “Six Steps to Creating Your Culture of Excellence.” Send an email to and put “Excellence” in the subject line.

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