One of the best definitions of “Gamification” that I have seen


Michael Spitz over at PharmaPhorum has written an article on “The gamification of healthcare”. It looks like a great article, and I plan to review it shortly. However, I just wanted to share Michael’s definition of “gamification”, which is one of the best that I have come across lately.

Gamification essentially uses game design techniques and mechanics to connect and engage with audiences in an otherwise non-gaming environment.

I’ll write more about his article (and others) soon…

  • Gamification in a Small Business: Does it Really Work?
  • One of the best definitions of “Gamification” that I have seen
  • 5 ways to actually get gamification to work effectively
  • Gamification in Pharma Marketing explained with examples
  • Gamification: Foster Brand Loyalty Using Game Mechanics
  • Gamification: What the Experts Think
  • What Is Gamification?
  • Healthcare Gamification
  • ‘Gamification’ engages otherwise uninterested customers (

Why giving the users what they want is not enough – the Importance of communication

What follows is a post that I published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)


Why giving the users what they want is not enough – the Importance of communication

As you are all most likely aware, giving the users what they want is not the right thing. Why? Because, often, the users don’t know really what they want.

Consider the following example:

A large restaurant chain has restaurants across the globe. Each restaurant needs to maintain documentation such as construction plans of each restaurant, recipes, procedures, and methodologies, etc. The “critical” documents are kept in a legacy ECM system and several SharePoint doclibs store the non-critical documents. These systems are located centrally, and are all globally accessible.

The business users work primarily with the legacy ECM system, but often also need to work with the documents in SharePoint. When a document was needed, a search was either done in SharePoint, or in the legacy system, using its rather complicated search feature.

Performing searches in two different places wasn’t easy, or efficient. And so, the users cried out “Give us a one central place where we can perform a search” When asked for more details they business users replied “Make it like Google”.

The restaurant’s IT-people (who might have been a little too enthusiastic) swung into action, without anymore questions. They found a tool that would allow SharePoint to “talk” with the legacy ECM system and crawl all the documents, indexing everything it could.

After working many weeks getting things set up, and configured, the IT-people sat and watched as SharePoint crawled through the content. Once finished, initial tests were done to ensure that a search action would actually return content. It was working perfectly. And it was “just like Google”.

A demonstration of the Search system was given to the users, who were ecstatic. They were able to easily enter search terms, and get results from the SharePoint, doclibs as well as the legacy system’s repositories. It was fantastic. It was easy to use, and there was no extensive training required. There was much cheering and showering the IT-people with small gifts. After further testing, the search facility was officially moved into production.

For the first couple of month the users were keen to use the “enterprise search facility”. But then, gradually, complaints started being heard. “The search results contained too many hits”, “Why wasn’t it more like the search feature in the legacy system?”, or “the search results were just showing the title of the document.” Users went back to using the legacy system’s search feature for the “important” documents, and the SharePoint search was just used for the documents in the document libraries. Namely, the “central” search facility was a failure.

What had gone wrong here? The business users wanted a single search facility, and they wanted it “like Google”. And that’s what the IT department had delivered – there was a single box where users could type in words they wanted find. And the search would return documents from all the different document repositories.

In this case, however, the users didn’t really know what they wanted. Yes, they wanted “easy”, but they also wanted something that allowed granular searches to be done (just like their “old” search tool). They also wanted to know where the search results came from. And they wanted the “important” documents to appear at the top of the search results.

The IT team should have asked more, and then they should have listened more. And then they should have repeated this process. Until it was understood what the Business really needed.  The team had followed a Waterfall approach, where requirements were asked up front, and then were not allowed to change. Agile programming techniques could have been used where a “finished’ product is shown to the users several times during the project. The users could give feedback which would lead to a better understanding of what they want, as well as the ability to refine the solution.

Fortunately, the IT team had the opportunity to improve the search system. They did add a small button to the search result screen, where users could provide immediate feedback. Working with this, as well as sending out regular “satisfaction” questionnaires, the IT team was able to identify areas of improvement. These include not only changes that were required on the user interface, and results screen, but it also allowed the IT team to see where further refinements were needed in the indexing process. Every four months, the improvements were presented to the business, and then implemented.

Now, the business users don’t use anything else.

Scrum Master Training – my impressions

In my earlier posts (here, here, or here) you can read how I have recently “discovered” Agile/Scrum

Having seen the challenges that can be encountered with the Waterfall, or PRINCE2, model, I am keen to learn more about this alternative approach. To that end, I sent myself off on a Scrum Master course.

In this post I want to give my impression of the training course – what was good about it, what worked, what didn’t, and what was wrong with the course.

Before I do, I need to clarify that these are my own opinions and not those of my anyone else that I have regular, or irregular contact with.

Also, please note that I won’t be going into the merits, or shortcomings of Scrum. I won’t be entering into the “discussion” taking place in the Project Management community surrounding the Scrum Master Certification. Nor will I be giving a blow-by-blow account of the 2 days.

Course Appraisal

Course Name: Certified Scrum Master Course

Course Provider: Collabnet – a reasonably large company that specializes in collaboration software development. Agile training is also part of their offerings, and they give courses in multiple locations in North America and Europe.


Training Location

The training course was help in a conference room in a Marriott hotel. This meant that there were excellent refreshments, and a great lunch. (Always an important factor when attending such an event.)


For this course, the trainer was Rafael Sabbagh Armony.

I was very impressed with his style of teaching he used. The training material he gave us seemed to be merely a formality as not once did Rafael refer to it. His style was more an interactive one. Through a series of “group exercises” he created an environment of learning through exploration, questioning, and peer-learning.

Obviously, a group exercise is a very contrived event and has very little resemblance to a “real world” equivalent, but in the process of working through the exercise, it encourages one to relate it to other situations (perhaps ones that are based in the real-world). This fostered further questioning, and discussion (both within the group, and within the whole class.

Rafael seemed very knowledgeable in his subject (Agile) and drew upon real-life situations that he had been involved in, when discussing SCRUM, both in answering individual questions, or contributing to one of the many class discussions.

Course Content

On the understanding that the course was focused on a Scrum Master, and was not an overview of Agile, or even Scrum itself, I did feel that, at the end of the course, I had a far-better understanding of this Framework.

One interesting thing was that, after registering for the course, I received access to a collection of on-line Scrum training material. This included a Scrum quick-reference guide, and a series of training videos, that took me through the fundamentals of Scrum.

Knowing very little about Scrum at this point, I found these resources to have a lot of value. It also meant that, during the training course itself, time was spent with “group exercises” (see above), and discussion, rather than going through the basics.

Could be better

Classroom Material

On the first day of the class, we were each given the course notes. These were in color (always helps), but had a thermal bind cover on them. While keeping the pages together in a very tidy fashion, it meant that for you to lay the “book” open fully, you had to damage the spine and binding material.


Left hand oblivious to what the right hand is doing

While Collabnet describe themselves as “The Leader in Agile Development in the Cloud” they came across as a organization made up of business units that seemed to have absolutely no idea what the other business units were doing. They also didn’t appear to have a coördinated approach to dealing with customers.

My point in case is this: On the 6th of December, I registered, and paid, for this course, and immediately received a confirmation from the department that handles course registration. This was as expected. However, on the 12th of December (less than a week later) I received a promotional e-mail from Collabnet offering me a 40% discount if I “book now!”

I was furious. A 40% discount was quite a lot (especially when I was, indirectly, paying for the course myself). I contacted Collabnet and asked why I wasn’t told about this when I first registered, and requested the same discount. The response I got was a simple “Sorry – we can’t retroactively apply the discount”! Unbelievable! (Maybe I was asking the wrong person, but then I would have expected my e-mail to be forward to the correct person, and to get a response from them.)

And to make matters worse, I still receive “promotional” announcements on a regular basis.

Socially Aware

One would expect any company that is involved with the “Cloud” to be socially aware. They do have a Twitter account (@Collabnet), but seem to use this merely as a “hey – look at us” type of account. I sent out a tweet about the 40% discount “complaint” I had, and even included “@Collabnet”. Did I get a reaction? No. This gave me the impression that Collabnet were not responsive to their customers.

Spelling. Grammar, Images

The training notes were full of typographical errors.

At the time, this did not cause too much concern (My recommendation is to check out something that most businesses that provide material to customers, and the public – a spellchecker. It doesn’t take long to do it, and, in many cases can be initiated by just clicking on a menu item.

The fact that there were many, many spelling mistakes is, in this case, not of too much concern. As I mentioned above, Rafael delivered the course without referring to the notes, and did it in such a way that the real value came from what he was saying, rather than what we were reading.

However, having words incorrectly spelt (especially in your course material) does send a poor message. And it does not take long to run a spell check over the content before “publishing” it.

With regards “images” – I have only one small complaint – make sure the images used don’t cover up the text (especially when they are being used on a page that discusses “transparency”).


Overall, I was satisfied with the course.

Having the pre-course training material available was excellent. I was really happy with that.

The classroom training, as delivered by Rafael, was also very good. I did not walk away at the end it feeling unsatisfied. The method of delivery was great, Rafael didn’t just “read from the book”

However, the “Bad” points I mentioned are worth thinking about. Collabnet came across as a Big Company that didn’t really care about its little customers.

  • Managing Agile Teams with Project Managers
  • CollabNet adds Scrum tech provider
  • Scrum

I think I underestimated what AIIM’s “Certified Information Professional” is

Recently Laurence Hart wrote a blog post about the new AIIM “Certified Information Professional” certification.

In response to this I made a comment  that I needed to be convinced that the CIP wouldn’t be just another of the many certifications that are available. (I refereed to it as JACJust Another Certification)

Laurence posted a second blog post where he discussed, further, the type of content that he encountered in the exam. This assuaged some of my concerns, but also prompted me to do something that I should have actually done in the beginning, and that is, read the CIP information that AIIM has on its site! If I had I would have seen that a lot of thought, and work, had been put into it.

As Laurence pointed out, the exam is not an easy one. I looked at the sample exam that is available, and got nervous just looking at that. The real exam has 100 questions, and is not the sort of thing that you can just do while sitting in the comfort of your own chair, while flicking back and forth between the exam, and Google. No, for this, you need to go to a Prometric test centre. The guys there are professionals, and you can expect to be under video surveillance while you do the exam.

When AIIM were putting the whole “certification” thing together, they went and asked the industry, what “stuff” was actually important to know. This was all scribbled down in a large notebook, and then scrutinized by subject matter experts. The SME’s then created the monster known as the CIP exam. Very broad, but also very deep in each of the various areas. Fortunately AIIM have made a large number of “preparatory” videos available.

AIIM also recognize that the industry is not a static thing. Technology changes, business processes change, ways of working change. As a result, if you pass the exam, it’s only valid for three years. After that, it’s necessary to either re-sit the exam, or to prove that you have attained a necessary level of continuing education credits ((in this case, 45). And what does that mean? Initially, this was something else that bothered me. “Hey, my company just paid $500 for an on-line training course. It was easy – didn’t have to do anything, and voila, I’m recertified.” No – earning continued education credits is not so easy. You earn credits by attending conferences, formal university-level courses, chapter meetings, giving presentations. And you don’t earn that many credits for each of these items. Even if you re-sat the exam after three years, AIIM will be continuously updating it reflect changes in the industry, so you can’t just “use the same answers as last time”. (For more details, check out the AIIM CIP Certification Maintenance Form)

This is what really impressed me. In the Netherlands, medical doctors need to keep up a certain level of training. Each course or conference they attend delivers them a certain number of points. To stay registered they need to attain a certain level each year. (It is most likely the same in other countries, it’s just my wife’s a doctor, and I get to hear about this all the time.) I realize that there is a world of difference between a Certified Information Professional, and a Medical Doctor, but this one factor drove home to me how serious AIIM’s CIP certification is.

Based on what I have read, I’m putting the CIP high on my list of goals for this year.
(And, even though I’ve been working in the industry now for over 13 years, I’m not going to do the exam “cold” as Laurence did. I’ll be making damn good use of those training videos.)

Relevant links:

  • CIP Examination Objective & Content
  • AIIM’s Certified Information Professional site
  • Certified Information Professional (CIP) Sample Exam
  • CIP FAQs
  • CIP Certification Maintenance Form
  • CIP Preparatory Videos

Note – currently many of the AIIM CIP sites are unavailable. This is because AIIM is working on a new version of the CIP. (For more information,  check out the following posts)

  • Becoming a Certified Information Professional (
  • Certified Information Professional, A Valid Measure (
  • My Next Life as AIIM’s CIO (

Working with Global Teams: Not all in the same room

This is part of the Working with Global Teams series

Previous Post: Working with Global Teams: Pesky Time Zones Revisited


A friend of mine,Shoaib Ahmed, has an excellent blog on Agile, and Project Management. 

He’s based in New Zealand, and as New Zealand is literally so far away from “the rest of the world” (said with a cheeky wink), he has a pretty good idea of some of the challenges that are met when working in a globally dispersed group.

Shoaib’s latest post goes into this in more detail. He mentions things such as time difference, culture, and reporting lines. Click here to read what he says.

Related posts:


  • 8 Tips for Teaming Across Time Zones (

Different Systems and Different Silos – A Real-life Disaster

What follows is a post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)


Different Systems and Different Silos – A Real-life Disaster

Discussions had been going on for months. Plans had been drawn up. Even though the main tasks had been itemized, there was agreement that these would still have to be refined further into the project.

Nothing had been done to assign owners to the tasks, but there was a mutual agreement that whoever could, would work on each task as they saw appropriate.

In any case, the goal, and the timeline, was clear. There was no disagreement there.

Over the weeks, considerable time and resources were committed to working through the various items that made up the project task list, and the necessary information was diligently recorded, and documented.

Progress was regularly reported to the various parties involved. This was done verbally. It involved the person who took ownership of the task describing what had been done, along with what else had to be done, and any impediments that they had encountered. If they felt it was necessary the task “owner” could describe a plan of action to overcome the impediment. The other parties involved could ask for more information, or give suggestions.

Communication was informal, but each party were confident that they were apprised of task activities, and that they knew the status of the project.

Then, one day, everyone involved, got together to “walk through” the progress of the project. This involved visiting the various locations where the tasks were done. It was, essentially, an internal, informal “audit”, and a complete day was scheduled. As is necessary for such an event, all “distractions” were removed. Everyone was asked to turn off their mobile phones, Blackberries, or similar handheld devices. An extended dinner was planned. Everyone had been working hard, and this would allow them to relax, and discuss the results of the audit, as well as talk about whether the project goal was still valid, or whether it needed to be modified.

The walk through of the first task went well. The recorded information was double-checked (obviously by someone other than the task “owner”). Everything looked good. Everyone was happy. The walk-through of the second task (identifying potential candidates for future sub-tasks) also went well.

But then, major issues were starting to appear. And these were not to do with the actual data, or even with the tasks themselves.

It turned out that each party had used their own system for recording information. This meant that the data, although present, was stored in two different systems. And in each case, the data had been recorded in a way that “suited” the person entering it. This meant that there was no “common” structure, and different metadata. And there was no way to simply “merge”, or import, the data from one to the other.

Further to this, because there was no real management of the tasks (as mentioned, it was a very informal process), it turned out that there was a duplication of activities. It appeared that some of the “unassigned” tasks, had been worked on by one party without knowing that others were also working on them. Result – a duplication of data. And, with the data recorded in two disparate systems.

To fix the “problem” would involve deciding which system would be the “master” system, and then manually entering all the data, from the unwanted system, into it. It was going to be a big job, and there was a lot of tension. The elaborate dinner that was planned was called off.

At this point, I turned to my wife, and suggested that the next time we were going to move house we need to make sure that we write everything down on the same notepad, instead of each of us having our own…

Based on true-life events.

Enterprise Search – 5 important factors to consider

Is True Enterprise Search actually possible

The idea of “Enterprise Search” is an attractive one. It certainly would be its weight in gold to have a single search location where keywords can be entered, and within seconds, results would be displayed that include both structured, and unstructured, content from across the numerous repositories, silos, systems, archives, file shares, cabinets, clouds, etc, etc.

Is true Enterprise Search possible?

But is true Enterprise Search really possible? I know there are several tools that provide “Enterprise Search” functionality, but these usually allow you to search over a fixed number of different repositories, usually containing similar data. Maybe it’s a set of defined documents, or a database, or similar. You certainly get the opportunity to make available content from disparate sources, but can you consider that “enterprise”.

If you consider what’s involved running a search across the “Enterprise”, it should be quite easy, right?

What to think about when considering Enterprise Search

There are several factors that you should keep in mind when considering Enterprise Search…

Where is your data and content?

First off, you need to be able to identify where your structured, and unstructured, data and content is. Remember, here we are dealing with the complete enterprise, so don’t forget that this includes files shares, hard drives, database system, ERP systems, ECM systems, etc, etc. And what happens if new “sources” are added?

What sort of Content have you got?

Next, you need to know what sort of content you have. Can the Enterprise Search application “read”, or parse, the data/content you have? There certainly are ways to make it possible to do this. You can install an ifilter, for example. But, you’ll need one for every format that you have in your enterprise.

Can you connect to all the sources?

You need a way that your Search application can connect to all of the different “sources.” In principle, this is, again, possible. (However, I would imagine that this would require a lot of configuration).

How often is that content changing?

How frequently is your data, and content, changing? For example, in an ECM system, is the content constantly being changed (as new documents are added). Maybe several major and minor versions are kept of each document. Do you need to index all versions, or only the latest? What about data in your ERP system? How accurate do you want your search results to be? Do you just keep continuously indexing?

What security is already on the content?

Do you want users to be able to see results of data, or content, that, if they had used the native application, they do not have rights to? If there are disparate security systems in place, how do you translate ACLs from them into a common format? Do you use “early binding”, or “late-binding”?  

It’s not that simple

As you can see, it’s not that simple. The above factors need to be thought about when considering Enterprise Search.

Until we have a way to be able to “capture” all information from an undefined number of sources, with an undefined number of data, and file, formats, with disparate sets of ACLs, I return to my opening question: “Is True Enterprise Search actually possible?”

What are your thoughts on this?

This post was the first post I published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. It has been slightly remodified. (The original can be read here). 

Related articles
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  • How should a “Perfect” Search project be run?

A comment by David on “Social Leadership”

In my last post, #SWCHAT – Social Leadership, I mentioned that there seemed to be the feeling that there was no such thing as “Social Leadership”.

In response, David Christopher, the host of the #SWChat’s, posted a really valuable comment. You can read it at the end of the above-mentioned post, but I feels it’s really worthy of its own post…

The term “Social Leadership” doesn’t really exist in business today but it was clear from the event that leaders need to start understanding and working towards being more social.

The reason reason? Empowerment.

With a social business infrastructure the old hierarchical structures are broken down and decentralised. Employee’s become more empowered and open collaboration becomes the norm.

Leaders therefore need to evolve their leadership styles to accommodate this type of new workplace, a social workplace. Once they embrace this type of leadership then the tacit and explicit knowledge of the employees can be shared openly and becomes an incredible asset. An asset that is often ignored or not realised.

This is the future, the next generation workplace as some call it but many companies are still a long way off achieving this.

The SWChat event last week clearly highlighted this.

I’m looking forward to next weeks chat. Thanks David.

  • Managing Social Media Chaos: A Leadership Priority (

#SWCHAT – Social Leadership

  Yesterday, David Christopher hosted another Social Workplace Tweet Chat.

Social Workplace Chat is a weekly event on Twitter where people from all corners of the globe come together to discuss topics around The Social Workplace. This particular chat session is an incredible way to learn more about the “Social Workplace”.

David is an excellent host, and knows, exactly, how to encourage excellent discussions on the topic in question. You can find out more about up-coming #SWCHAT’s, as well as interesting stuff over the most recent one, at

This week’s chat covered “Social Leadership“.   The main feeling about this was:

There is no such thing as “Social Leadership”.
Leader is inherently “social”.

Further to that, David also put forward three other questions:

  • Why are companies not adopting a “Social Leadership Infrastructure”?
  • What type of people do you see embracing Social Leadership, and what type do you see fearing it?
  • Are introverts more comfortable with Social Leadership?

The answers to these were interesting. Based on the fact that the “Social” Leadership didn’t actually exist (see above), the responses to these questions tended to concentrate more on the adoption of social media (i.e. the web 2.0 tools used).

With regards the last question, many references were made to a book titled “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership”. This seemed to be the basis for this week’s chat. I have bought the book, but have only had a chance to skim through it.  David, however, wrote about it on his blog.

I have captured the essence of the chat in Storify. Click here to read it for yourself to read the discussion (note I have removed Retweets, and any “small talk” tweets).

[Alternatively, you can download a PDF version here.]

  • A comment by David on “Social Leadership” (

AIIM with Pie

If you have not already heard, Laurence Hart has a new job. He’s the new CIO at AIIM.

So, what does this mean? What value will he bring to AIIM? To answer that, we really need to understand what kind of a person Laurence Hart is.

I’ve never met Laurence. I don’t really know him, but I have a certain impression of him. An impression that has been built up over the years since I first got involved with Documentum.

I discovered his blog “Word of Pie” back in 2007, when I had just moved from working with FileNet to a world of Documentum.

Pie’s writings seemed to be honest, and to the point. He didn’t write about how “great” this product was, or how “fantastic” that company was. He never sounded like he had drunk the Kool-Aid.

Laurence wasn’t afraid to discuss a company’s warts. He wasn’t nasty. He just said it like it was.  And I found that valuable. (In fact, his blog was was inspired me to start my own blog (along with Andrew Chapman’s ). However he is also the reason that I put off actually starting one, for so long. (He set a very high standard.)

Obviously I was not the only one who thought that Laurence wrote some good shit. As well as having, what must be, thousands of readers, in 2008, he was the victim of plagiarism.

I think that AIIM will benefit a lot from the addition of Laurence to their staff. (Also with addition of Cheryl McKinnon.)

I think that Laurence’s honest, and critical, way of looking at things will be interesting in an organization such as AIIM.

As I mentioned I don’t really know Laurence personally. (I screwed up a chance to meet him at a Nuxeo conference in Paris, last year, and, heck … I don’t even know the “Pie” story)

There are many, many other people who know Laurence better than I do. If you have a different perspective, or can add something to what I’ve said, please, please feel free to make a comment..

  • Moving from Expert to Evangelist and Back
  • My Next Life as AIIM’s CIO (