I just came across the company TrueOffice that is putting together (inspiring!) games for businesses to train their employees on ‘compliance’ issues. Think sexual harassment, information security, or ethical behavior in the office.
The issue is that these trainings are typically boring, unimpressive, without lasting impact — more of a burden on the employees than a lasting instructional session.
TrueOffice takes a ‘Gamification’ approach to the problem (with strong reliance on the attraction of narratives, comic books, and police procedural tv shows).
Their market is clear: businesses that are obliged to train employees about certain rules & policies, and then provide some assurance that the employees have digested the training. Their approach, though, holds lots of inspiration for a wider range of markets and possible products.
Though these game apps are marketed as enterprise solutions for ‘compliance’ — they are bordering on the world of law.
It uncovers a few insights that could be used for legal service delivery & legal education:
- Embed what you want to communicate — laws, rules, strategies, etc — into larger narratives — if the apparent point of an experience is more to follow the story, find out the outcome, or solve a problem — and less just to intake material for the sake of remembering it long enough to pass a test — the user will be more engaged and more likely to be actively learning the material. It is better to teach through experiences, narratives, storylines, and personas, than to just teach the material cold, section by section. This has clear implications for how we educate lawyers, but also holds true for other communications. How we communicate to clients, to juries, to others we are trying to persuade or educate — we need to embrace users’ love of stories & narratives, and use this for its persuasive & engaging force.
- Give users ‘agents’ or ‘personas’, whose roles the user can take on — this will help the user see situations more critically, and from different kinds of perspectives than their own. This may be particularly important in training lawyers. It may also be a playful tool for legal service delivery, in which the client needs to do more self-diagnosis or self-service — this persona-playing may provide a reflective space for better information sharing & engagement with online legal services. Users like to be active — and in created virtual worlds, they are willing to make leaps outside of their typical mental models & expectations, and perhaps also be provoked into new modes of thinking, planning, valuing, and action.
- Provide quick feedback, regularly throughout the experience — whether in the form of check-in quizzes, or progress bars, or a user journey map which will show the user that they are making progress — and will help them locate themselves on the overall service’s map. Don’t wait until the end of an experience to tell the user how they are doing, or provide encouragement or other feedback. Weave it throughout the experience, and the user will be much more engaged. That’s a more general lesson — to ‘onboard’ users into a product, system, or even a conversation, you must give quick easy rewards, and then steadily make the experience more challenging.
- Play can work in the workplace — if TrueOffice is to be believed, employers and employees both have an appetite for games, cartoons, and other ‘play-like’ experiences to serve work purposes. Perhaps law firms is another frontier — in which such ‘play’ will not be allowed for a good while — but I take it as a positive that some ‘serious’ workplaces may be inching open to more inventive, interactive, and creative approaches to delivering services.
I have scouted around for some info on whether there is a market there for TrueOffice. They’re a fairly young venture out of Boston, and it seems in January 2013 they received $3mil in Series A funding from, among others, Rho Ventures, the Partnership for New York City Fund and Contour Venture Partners (as reported by Kyle Alspach in the Boston Business Journal).
True Office said the funding will be used to expand its business within the financial services sector, and to move into other highly-regulated markets such as health care.
In the release, Sodowick said there are currently few options for businesses to effectively help their employees understand regulatory and compliance issues. But, he said, “a well-designed game has the power to engage employees and at the same time, produce analytics that can help the banks identify and reduce operational and compliance risk.”