Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Bug Programming IT Games

How DirecTV Overhauled Its 800-Person IT Group With a Game 85

mattydread23 writes "Most gamification efforts fail. But when DirecTV wanted to encourage its IT staff to be more open about sharing failures, it created a massive internal game called F12. Less than a year later, it's got 97% participation and nearly everybody in the IT group actually likes competing. So what did DirecTV do right? The most important thing was to devote a full-time staffer to the game, and to keep updating it constantly."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How DirecTV Overhauled Its 800-Person IT Group With a Game

Comments Filter:
  • "Game?" (Score:3, Funny)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @02:07AM (#45079055)

    It doesn't sound like a game. It sounds like Choose Your Own Adventure: Powerpoint Edition. At the risk of snarking with one of the oldest lines ever on the internet...

    Pics or it didn't happen.

    • A lot of companies are starting games like this to raise moral, make work fun to up attendance and to get employees to collaborate.
  • So the people that didn't participate.. what happened to them?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    FIRED! Thanks for sharing your fails.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Soo... F12 = We're going to fired 12 people, participate, or have your named added to the short-list ... ?

  • I'm sure the next company those staffers move to will appreciate the pre-training and screening that DTV invested in.
  • I call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by networkzombie ( 921324 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @02:51AM (#45079251)
    Bullshit. I've seen plenty of articles like this, and I've worked at many companies that have made the same claims. All of them were bullshit. It is a condescending attempt to re-train employees. There is a Forbes article about this that is more detailed. It shows how they want employees ideas without paying them for those ideas or giving them any credit. My favorite is the quote "It is no longer enough for IT organizations to deliver and operate systems on time and on budget. Now, we must deliver competitive advantages". Well, you could knock me over with a feather. I didn't know that I should be delivering competitive advantages. I thought you were lucky if I got your email working. How about if a few Direct TV employees chime in and comment on what was in these videos that became the awesome F12 game that stirred competition between employees and increased productivity, or to quote, how management addressed your "fear of failure." I'm sure all that showed an increase in productivity earned a raise in salary.
    • >they want employees ideas without paying them for those ideas or giving them any credit

      Do you live and work in the Western world?

      Are you independently wealthy?

      If your answers are Yes and No respectively, you should not have any expectation of pay beyond salary or credit beyond "attaboy!" If this bothers you, please seek asylum in your preferred alternate society.

      • If your answers are Yes and No respectively, you should not have any expectation of pay beyond salary or credit beyond "attaboy!" If this bothers you, please seek asylum in your preferred alternate society.

        "Yes... it is perfectly acceptable for one group of people to exploit another without compensation. If this bothers you, it must be because you're mentally ill. Love it or leave it, trolololoooo..."

        You know, we had a civil war to get rid of people like you. Do we need to come out and burn your plantation down? This is America -- flip over your currency sometime. It says 'E Pluribus Unum'. It's not latin for 'Every man for himself'.

        • You are being compensated.. with your salary.

          Plus, with so many people here arguing against patents and copyrights, it would seem to me that that would also lead to the argument AGAINST being paid *extra* (beyond salary) "for your ideas".

  • Make it stop. (Score:5, Informative)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @03:06AM (#45079289)

    Just make it fucking stop. As someone who works in a Fortune 100 company and deals with this bullshit - just stop. None of it is cool, and none of it helps the bottom line. It's just bullshit the higher ups think up to seem like they're doing something valuable.

    I'll take a page from Office Space.

    When you come in on Monday, and you sit down at your computer does anyone try to get you to play the most boring fucking "game" in the world to get you to do stupid shit that contributes to meaningless metrics?

    No. No man. Shit no man.I believe you'd get your ass kicked saying something like that, man.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yup a middle manager who is actually 100% useless trying to make it look like he is actually doing something at the company.

      It's just proof that Direct TV is still very top heavy and still needs to cut a LOT from the top and middle to become more profitable.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      So stop working there.
      I could make more money by taking one of those jobs, but I don't even accept interviews from them. Why do that to yourself?

      The minute I saw 800 person IT Group I knew that would be a hell hole.

    • by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @09:20AM (#45080911)
      Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Just make it fucking stop. As someone who works in a Fortune 100 company and deals with this bullshit - just stop. None of it is cool, and none of it helps the bottom line. It's just bullshit the higher ups think up to seem like they're doing something valuable.

      Actually, the core problem was not the game - but communications. For whatever reason (corporate culture, most likely) people would make mistakes but not share what happened (and how they fixed it). The whole reason for the video sharing platform was

  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @03:52AM (#45079457)

    Ok, so you got 97% of your IT guys to watch videos in exchange for Hokey tickets and other, unspecified, incentives. That is really... sad

    I'll tell you now that if I send my developers a video every single one of them will watch it. With no incentive other that an implicit "this will make you a better developer." If you have to pay people to read e-mails/watch videos that leadership sends your leadership has already failed.

    More importantly though there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about he role of IT which is to keep everything running all of the time. In other words, "fear of failure" or risk-aversion is a very good thing in your IT staff. Training them to be less risk averse is not a good thing and not something that you actually want.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    my 2 hour after lunch nap.. err game points winning thing

  • by HnT ( 306652 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:41AM (#45079607)

    Maybe I missed something here but this looks very much like kindergarten teachers giving "golden stars" to the eager beaver kids with the added edge that the overall scores are public and it is a work environment where "less golden stars" can quickly be perceived as (or abused as) a list of who will get fired first - which is the only reason anyone is doing it in the first place, not because it is "such a fun GAME" and not because the work culture and how fuck-ups are seen has actually changed.

    They might as well have just told people it is mandatory or you can find a new job, because in effect that is all it looks like to me.

  • Coffee is for closers, redux.

  • Sometimes these posts are just for hating.. What's wrong with gamification.. I think it can be incredibly effective for teaching employees certain things. I'm not saying I know enough about this story to say it worked or it's even a good thing at all but why take something totally down without even thinking twice..
    • Because when you attach something to worker performance, calling it a game or not makes no differences for it really is just another way for management to use it against workers.

      "Bob, I see your not moving up in the standings, why is that?"

      "Well, I've been trying to actually help people and have not had time to play. Beside, I'm not into gaming that much"

      "I see, well unless you move up in standings I may have to give Jane that raise, she's really been playing hard, and if you don't play, there's no pay"


      • I agree that most management, especially upper management, in most companies (especially very big organizations) are thinking parallel to what you are saying here (the scene from where Neo is standing in front of his boss comes to mind from the movie Matrix) :) However, management is a necessary thing to do many times, well, in order to manage the project in hand (sorry to point out the obvious). A good manager must know, especially in the world of IT, you need to take care of people who are working on the
        • Good thoughts.

          " In my opinion the most important role of a manager is to enable communication between his team and for him to communicate current information to people himself. This current information is not alway easy to communicate in a large group. "

          I've worked in the corporate/business world for over 30 years and in all that time, I've found that what you described above to be the exception, not the norm. I'll openly admit I am somewhat jaded after all this time working for companies and management th

          • I like gamification in the sense that it makes interaction fun. If some evil corporation takes it and makes it so people are going against each others throats (hard-core competition) rather then working together (collaboration) then I'm not for it. I'm not even clear how that's gamification (making the process or whatever more fun etc). I guess now that we discussed it shortly I'm clearer and I can say "I like gamification for teaching, communicating and making electronic interaction more FUN". I've been i
            • I'll check out the site. I think your views on gamification match mine. Way back when I taught programming I used gaming at the end of a class to help review material and maybe let people remember something from the class. Was it gamification? maybe, but I know it was popular and it worked.

              As to line breaks, check your account/profile settings for posting messages. You may have it set to display as "HTML" instead of plain old text. When in html mode you have to provide your own line breaks using the b

            • thanks for the hint on line breaks


  • If these are such good IT professionals, how long would it take one of them to throw together an auto script that would "watch" the videos for them, sending clicks for all appropriate buttons, etc.?

    I think the high score competition would show you who your best internal hackers were.
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      That would show you who the mediocre internal hackers were. The best hackers have made sure they never score too high, just high enough to always get that raise or to get those incentives at the normal rate.

  • by Cobol God ( 157835 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @09:14AM (#45080847) Journal

    My last job the district manager changed and threw out all the promises of the last one. Told me he did NOT care what the last guy said and that he did NOT care how good I was with the business that people skills were more important than being knowledgeable. Top it off he started a GOLD STAR AWARD where we got GOLD STARS for doing an excellent job where we got gold star stickers by our name on a post it board in the employee lounge. I complained about being treated like a kindergartener and that's when the demotion started. Took me off the top of the promotion list, moved me to part time and shifted my office to another one 45 minutes drive from my home vs the one I was working at that was less than 5 min from home.

    Why would a GAME improve a situation? I had one employer who thought taking us IT department to a paintball match would be fun. Was told by a fellow employee DO NOT shoot at the boss, the last guy who did was fired for it. Boss shows up with this super expensive automatic paintball marker and rest of us get single shot pistols. It was management vs the IT dept. Wanna guess what happened to every IT guy who actually shot at management? I was let go and a friend who accidentally hit the foot of a supervisor was demoted for "demoralizing the company with his attitude" because he was actually firing AT the opposing team.

    I guess that is what is "effective management" in todays world.

    • as an union will not stand for BS like that.

      • as an union will not stand for BS like that.

        You're completely correct. A union would demand entirely different BS, and make you pay them for the privilege of dealing with it.

    • I had one employer who thought taking us IT department to a paintball match would be fun

      Sorry that your experience sucked. I just thought I'd say that we did this with my office once and it went great. I was on the opposite team from my manager, so we shot each other quite a bit. Also, a co-worker, on the same team as our manager, shot our manager in the back. We had a big laugh about it back at work and no official repercussions happened, but speaking of being treated like kindergarteners, though, I think that employee's mother was told about the incident.

      • Well I think we were not viewed so much as employees as "things". We HAD to show up for Christmas dinner for them halfway through December. It was NOT optional you HAD to show up. One year my supervisor hosted and his house was maybe 5000-6000 or so square feet with a huge hand laid brick driveway that he JUST had done. Another year one of the owners had it at his house. No raise that year but he had his home theater redone and big wall of McIntosh audio for his theater.

        I should have left when I was told

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @10:01AM (#45081211)
    Now they should turn signal quality into a game. With their static bitrate feeds, a wall of text looks great but confetti falling at the superbowl creates pixels the size of cats. So, every time someone adds a channel to their 10 trillion channel lineup and wastes more bandwidth on something 2 people are "watching" aka fell asleep on the couch, they light your desk on fire. Every time someone launches a pathetically inept satellite that can support like 1Mbps per channel, crash it into that engineer's house. Then every time someone loses signal because of snow or rain, that customer is allowed 24 hours to hunt down the original installer of the dish with a crossbow. Eventually the game would make it so everyone wins and they wouldn't be such a complete joke of a provider.
  • Back in 2007 my friend and I worked in a crap call center for them and we got bored and found out that all of the shares for all call centers CORPORATION WIDE had effective permissions set to "EVERYONE" meaning that any one person could modify everyone else's files. This included IE favorites and any files on the roaming profile, as well as drop zones for operating system ISOs and installer programs used by IT. Would have been extremely easy at that point to steal everyone's password in the entire buildin
    • Not to mention that the director of IT at one particular building is such an idiot that he couldn't even keep kiosk computers in the lobby running for more than 2 weeks at a time before they got virus infestations and permanently bluescreened. Had he never heard of Deepfreeze? I was only 20 years old at the time but could have run circles around him with a little common sense.
  • Friendly competition in the workplace: Good. If done right it leads to better morale and an overall better work environment.

    I've been on the other side of this competition fence in the work place. It's not cool. I had a manager, and I'm still trying to figure out if he did the following intentionally or if he was a moron. He hired 4 IT temps and told us all he only had two permanent positions.

    Now, I'm not a cut throaty back stabbing type so of course I got singled out. One day I came into work to find my ma

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva