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How to use gamification to accelerate the bond between mentors and mentees: Part 2

Sandra Schlebusch
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Last week, I spoke about how some mentoring programmes can be quite costly. I also spoke about how having mentors - in senior positions in the organisation - away from the office at the same time creates problems. An alternative has to be found. Today, I'm going to give you the solution that we came up with, which uses gamification.

The solution had to deliver similar results that the previous experience did, but in a more cost- and time-effective way. Because of this need, the Mentoring Game was born!

What is the Mentoring Game?

The Mentoring Game has been designed to be a cost- and time-effective solution, based on experiential learning - which is part of accelerated learning - and gamification principles.

*Figure 1: Principles underlying the Mentoring Game

Time is money and people now want instant gratification

Accelerated learning is quickly creating learning that's beneficial to the business, with long-term retention, by addressing each individual's learning preferences.

According to Dave Meier, author of the Accelerated Learning Handbook, accelerated learning is based on the following principles:

  • Learning involves the whole mind and body (multiple intelligences) – your head, emotions, senses and receptors.
  • Learning is active and doesn't only involve listening.
  • Collaboration speeds up the learning process.
  • Learning takes place on many levels simultaneously – conscious, para-conscious, mental and physical.
  • Learning comes from doing the work yourself.
  • Positive emotions improve learning.
  • The 'image' brain absorbs information instantly and automatically.

The SAVI approach to learning incorporates the principles of accelerated learning:

We adhered to the SAVI approach in designing the Mentoring Game in the following way:

1. Somatic - Most tasks in Mentoring Game can only be completed by moving pieces and performing tasks. Each completed task must also be delivered, on time, to the game referee. The team members are therefore constantly in action and are never passive in.

2. Auditory – To solve the problems and challenges that make up the various tasks in Mentoring Game, team members need to talk and listen regularly to each other.

3. Visual – Certain tasks entail direct observation and picturing. The three mini-lectures, which take the form of PowerPoint presentations with voiceovers, are also very visual. The results of each task are also displayed on a scoreboard for everyone to see.

4. Intellectual – Each challenge needs to be resolved through problem-solving. Reflection takes place after completing each task and filling in the corresponding reflection card.

We used gamification to combine the Mentoring Game's activities

Gamification implements game thinking and game workings into business settings. Gamification is based on game design, loyalty programmes and behavioural economics. Great gamification experiences cultivate a sense of mastery and progression to mastery. Mastery is acquiring knowledge, skill and demonstrating control in steady and consistent progression.

When playing a game, players have a positive experience as their brains release dopamine. This motivates players to continue playing the game as positive emotions will improve learning.

The results show that gamification accelerates learning

The Mentoring Game has been designed so that the mentor-mentee of each team actively collaborate with each other from the start of the game day to solve problems. The teams (made up of mentor-mentee partnerships) have to wrestle with challenges, drawing on their own experiences and existing knowledge to discover facts and relationships, and new truths to be learned. Each challenge or problem (task) addresses one of the important issues that arises during the contracting and bonding stage of the mentoring programme. After each challenge (task), the team has to reflect (completing a reflection card) on what they've discovered and how this new knowledge and skill will assist in their mentoring programme.

Points are achieved by completing each of nine tasks, as well as optional tasks if the teams feel up to the extra challenge.

The team that has the highest score at the end of the day is declared the winning team and receive the winners' trophy.

Apart from strengthened relationships, each team takes away a wooden box that contains their reading cards, their reflection cards and their mentoring plan - clearly indicating their purpose and goal, and how to achieve it.

And the finance director just smiles – the total cost in terms of time and money are far less than a two-and-a-half day experiential learning experience!


Sandra Schlebusch is the managing director of LEMASA and the owner of LeCouSa Consulting, which owns The Consultants brand. She obtained a BCom (honours) degree in industrial psychology at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (now the North West University). Sandra continued her studies in business, management and leadership, and obtained an MBA during May 2004 at the University of the North West, Potchefstroom campus. Her current studies include compiling her doctoral proposal on a comparison of the learning effectiveness of diagnostic assessment centres with coaching development centres. Sandra is a registered psychometrist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is a practising life, business and executive coach, and is also a member of Toastmasters International. Sandra has extensive work experience in the chemical, transport, broadcasting and the telecommunication industries covering the whole spectrum of human and organisational development, including mentoring and coaching. Sandra received an award for Recognition for Continuous Contribution to the field of Assessment Centres in South Africa for the 2007 from the Assessment Centre Study Group (ACSG). She is co-editor of the book Assessment Centres: Unlocking Potential for Growth (2008). She was also awarded honorary membership of the ACSG in 2012.


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