Elise Olding

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Elise Olding
Research Director
6 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a research director in Gartner's Program and Portfolio Management (PPM) group. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on BPM implementation practices. Read Full Bio

“Engagification”of the Enterprise – Gamification and Employee Engagement

by Elise Olding  |  November 14, 2012  |  12 Comments

I had the pleasure of crafting one of Gartner’s top predicts for 2013:

By 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. (Gartner’s Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2013 and Beyond: Balancing Economics, Risk, Opportunity and Innovation)

Why do we need to consider gamification in our workplace transformation efforts? According to John Kotter, 70% of business transformation efforts fail. Add to that the impact of 71% of American workers who are not engaged or actively disengaged from their work (according to Gallup), and less likely to be productive. This paints a dismal picture for business change and transformation efforts as organizations are clearly not addressing the fundamentals needed for success. Technology, the program plan and/or a lack of vision are not the root issues; it’s the lack of engagement and buy-in from employees who need to embrace new ways of working. When transforming business operations, organizations will need to cement behavior changes and engagement as part of the work activities.

Gamification can help organizations make the workplace more engaging and productive. The same incentives that inspire game players to strive for the next level in a computer game can also inspire your employees to reach for a higher level of performance and engagement — if they are properly applied. Gamification hype is rampant, and the uses inside the enterprise are still emerging. My recent research found only a handful of effective implementations that demonstrated measurable, increased employee engagement. Gartner expects to see that continue over the next few years as lessons are learned and effective techniques are honed.

In presenting this topic at Gartner Summits and Symposiums around the world this year, the reception has been surprisingly positive. The number of organizations exploring the use of gamification for employee engagement continues to grow. During each conference there are a handful of attendees (some from very large organizations) that share with me their forays into using gamification to increase engagement.   

Here are a few tips when applying gamification within the enterprise:

  • Strive for collaboration. Gamification is often associated with competition, but it is great tool for enhancing business collaboration and maximizing business outcomes.
  • Define your transformation objectives, metrics and desired outcomes. Then consider what kind of behaviors you want to reinforce and apply the appropriate gamification techniques.
  • Understand what works in a particular culture. Not everyone is motivated by the same techniques. Even within a single organization, there can be many different cultures — some competitive and some more collaborative, some assertive and some more passive. Each group will have its own motivations.
  • Plan for iterations and “upping the game” to avoid fatigue, foster continued engagement and promote continuous improvement.

There has been some negative reaction to the term gamification – most recently at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona – so I’ve been trying out “engagification.” So far, there has been positive reception. It seems to get at the root of the challenge – which is employee engagement.

What’s your reaction to using the term engagification? Please, please comment!  

Check out the upcoming webinar presented by Daryl Plummer : Top Technology Predictions for 2013 and Beyond 

Follow me on Twitter:  @eliseolding


Category: BPM employee engagement engagification gamification Gartner Organizational Change     Tags: , ,

Get Your Game On at the Gartner BPM Summit in Baltimore

by Elise Olding  |  April 24, 2012  |  5 Comments

Next week’s BPM summit will have something for everyone from beginners wanting to know the right steps in the journey – to emerging trends for our advanced practitioners to explore. At this years conference we are adding a layer of fun based on our gamification keynote by Gabe Zichermann (Twitter @gzicherm and his bio is here )

To help raise the level of engagement and interaction and fun at the conference we will be using a few simple game mechanics; badges and prizes!

Game Rules: Some of the Gartner analysts and BPM advisory board members will be awarding badges to attendees (actually they are stickers which you will attach to your conference nametag). You mission is to get as many badges as you can by completing the challenges.

Here are some clues to help you get started:

  • Find and tell me your favorite scuba or snorkeling spot, or best vacation – the more exotic the better. For scuba/snorkel tips you will get a fish badge, for vacations you get a pineapple. If you totally WOW me you get both.
  • Michele Cantara is a history buff. Wow her with an obscure historical fact and collect a badge.
  • Jim Sinur will have guitar badges and he will be posting his challenge on Twitter @jimsinur
  • Jenny Sussin will post her challenge on Twitter @JSussin
  • John Mahoney enjoys opera. Impress him with the name of your favourite leading opera character and the composer.
  • Shawn Solomon, one of our BPM advisory members, will be hosting a pre-event session – if you are attending you can collect your first badge from him on Tuesday.
  • Bruce Robertson wants to hear about the best rock concert you have attended.
  • Get research from Solution Central. Tell them about your favorite job.
  • Joel Kiernan, one of our BPM advisory members is a baseball fan. Share your favorite baseball moment and he will give you a glove or baseball badge.
  • Wade Wallinger, another BPM advisory board member from Chevron, is interested in hearing about your favorite movie star. Do this and we awarded a cool star badge.
  • John Dixon is interested in your BPM nightmares. He will reward you with a beer badge to ease the pain! Oh and yes, sharing someone else’s story is OK too!

There will be other Gartner analysts and BPM advisory members who will be giving out badges at the show as well so you will need to follow the clues to figure out who they are. Follow #gartnerbpm hashtag on Twitter as well as analyst blogs for more information on who will be giving out badges at the show.

At the end of the conference we will pick one winner. The person with the best creative display of badges or best overall story will get the prize, which will be a full pass for next years BPM conference. Find me or Jenny Sussin and share. I will announce the winner at the close of the show so be sure to follow me on Twitter @eliseolding


Category: BPM Gartner     Tags: , , , , ,

The Language of Successful Organizational Change

by Elise Olding  |  February 28, 2012  |  4 Comments

The majority of my interactions with clients lately have been about organizational change. It is becoming more of an executive level conversation as leaders are realizing the importance of paying attention to the people dynamics and understanding the consequences when they don’t. “Where to start?” is a question I’m commonly asked. Here’s the 100,000 foot view that I recently shared:

  • First – stop using “change management.” It’s a myth, change can’t be “managed.” All of us certainly know we can’t change someone else and likely have learned this well in our personal lives. It holds equally true at work but somehow we don’t take this into consideration and continue to pursue managing change at work. What you can do is influence, entice, engage, suggest, mentor… ”Change management” sounds like something that gets delegated to lower levels to “manage” in the organization. While there is certainly a project component, the overall concept of an adaptable and flexible workforce is a strategic concern in an organization and one executives should be involved with. Consider using “organizational change” or “leading change.”
  • Second, stop using the word “new” to descibe your subsequent state. New implies a change from here to there and then it is done. It sends the message to employees that once you master the new way of working, they can relax as they have arrived at “new”. The truth is there’s another “new” waiting in the wings. So, call it what it is. It’s “next.” This alerts employees to expect more and that “next” will be a way of life. Offer career development and training in how to live in a “next” environment. As employees gain the skills to embrace change they can move towards creating an adaptable and flexible workforce.

This is the 100,000 foot view, but it’s a place to start. Oh, and don’t forget change fatigue, but more on that later…

Your thoughts?




Category: Organizational Change Strategic Planning Uncategorized     Tags: , ,

Trading my “B” for a “P” – Farewell BPM, Hello PPM!

by Elise Olding  |  February 14, 2012  |  3 Comments

I have had 4 1/2 great years with the Gartner BPM team. It’s been fun shaping the research, meeting everyone at the conferences and writing research. I’m sad to leave good friends and wonderful collegues.  The good news is that I will be at all the Gartner BPM Summits this year!

I’m now onto my next challenge…effective Feb. 1 I have joined the Program and Portfolio Management team. They are a great group and I’m looking forward to expanding my research into this area. I will be taking the organizational change research with me and also continue to work on the intersection between the PMO and BPM – what Donna Fitzgerald has defined as the enterprise PMO. (And hot news off the press: we are continuing to see the convergence of the PMO, BPM and organizational change.)

I’m looking forward to keeping connected to those of you with whom I’ve worked with while on the BPM team and look forward to new connections in the PPM world.


Category: Uncategorized     Tags: , , ,

BPM Predicts 2012: Organizational Politics Hampers, Gamification Motivates BPM Adoption

by Elise Olding  |  November 21, 2011  |  7 Comments

Our “BPM Predicts” report for 2012 has been published.  It was a cross-team effort that included – myself, Brian Burke, Michele Cantara, John Dixon, Donna Fitzgerald, Janelle Hill and Teresa Jones.  “BPM Predicts” is published each year and I hope you find this year’s batch to provide insights for you to take BPM to the next level.   


The land of BPM is awash in opportunities but also speckled with landmines. This year’s predictions offer some of both. Starting with the landmines, organizational politics is emerging as a challenge and will continue to haunt BPI leaders Those not realizing the force of this challenge will face the stalling or demise of their BPM program, and we anticipate that will be one-third of the organizations today. The good news is that the opportunities offer hope to deal with this challenge and have a direct and positive impact. The enterprise program management office (EPMO) ties together people, technology and process enabling a better, more comprehensive reading on political challenges, and gamification offers engagement and motivation techniques to rally opposing forces to work toward collaborative goals. Shadow processes diminish the value of BPM, and creating visibility offers opportunities to coordinate work across organizational boundaries. The bad news is that politics will be a challenge that some will not overcome, but the good news is that this year’s predictions point to a path that will lead to BPM success.


  • Through 2016, organizational politics will prevent at least one-third of BPM efforts from moving beyond one-off projects to enterprisewide adoption. (John Dixon, Elise Olding)
  • By 2015, 25% of all redesigned processes will include one or more of the engagement practices known as “gamification.” (Elise Olding, Brian Burke)
  • Driven by the need to innovate, by 2016, one-third of enterprise-level BPI groups will combine with the Program Management Office (PMO) to form the EPMO. (Elise Olding, Donna Fitzgerald)
  • By 2016, 20% of “shadow business processes” will be supported by BPM cloud platforms. (Michele Cantara)



Category: BPM Cloud Gartner Organizational Change     Tags: , ,

Join Us for Gartner Chat on Social Media – Oct 4th, 3pm EDT

by Elise Olding  |  September 28, 2011  |  1 Comment

The wave of social business will be larger and even more disruptive than the e-business wave that preceded it. It is more than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is also more than the enabling technologies – wikis, blogs, social networks, etc.

Social media is really about engaging communities in new ways to achieve otherwise impossible business value. It is about strategy. It is about thriving, surviving or disappearing in a new age of human behaviors fueled by mass collaboration.

In this Gartner Twitter Chat, we’ll explore the critical trends that are upending social programs as business get social. Key topics will include:

  1. What makes social media so powerful?
  2. How can organizations take a strategic approach to social media?
  3. How can social media transform how you do business?
  4. How do you measure the value of social media?
  5. What are the major best and poor practices that mean the difference between success and failure?

The Gartner Twitter Chat will take place October 4, at 3 ET (noon PT for me!) on Twitter with Anthony Bradley, Carol Rozwell, and Elise Olding. Please join us on Twitter using #GartnerChat. Follow our hosts: @BradleyAnthonyJ, @CRozwell, @EliseOlding and @Gartner_inc

I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

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Category: Gartner Social     Tags: , , , ,

Take the BPM Survey

by Elise Olding  |  September 28, 2011  |  1 Comment

We are in the planning stages for our Gartner BPM Summit. I am the conference chair. The pre-conference survey is available – here. We currently have approximately 180 responses and need more!! 

By fully completing this survey you will be provided a special $300 discount code to attend the Gartner Business Process Management Summit in Baltimore, Maryland, April 25-27, 2012. In addition, you will automatically be eligible to win two free passes, one for you and one for a colleague.

Some interesting results so far: 

Which of the following BUSINESS PRIORITIES are driving your investments in and development of Business Process Management? Please select all that apply.
         75% answered “cost savings”

What are the biggest obstacles preventing you from improving processes? Please select all that apply.
         56% answered “lack of resources”

The survey will guide us to develop content that is relevant to attendees. Topics trending are: organizational change management, resource development, achieving results, business process modeling and simulation/optimization.

Please give us your thoughts and we will use this input to develop the agenda.

1 Comment »

Category: BPM Organizational Change     Tags: , , , , ,

Let’s Get RADICAL – Stop Paving the Cow Path

by Elise Olding  |  September 27, 2011  |  3 Comments

Think about your last BPM implementation – was it merely paving the cow path, or did it include a radical redesign from how things are done today? I talk with vendors, companies, government entities and read lots of case studies. While the results are often impressive, I often feel underwhelmed. Where are the nuggets of radical redesign or breakthrough thinking in the solution?  It seems much of the benefit was achieved through automation of manual effort.

My first immersion into enterprise-wide process improvement was at Levi’s in the 90’s. I attended one of the first course’s taught by Dr. Michael Hammer and poured over his book “Reeingineering the Corporation.”  His messages resonated with “blow it up” and “start with a blank sheet of paper.” We spent time visiting other companies, gaining insights from customers and creating a vision for how we could work in the future. Then we did the heavy lifting of figuring how to get from here to there.

Unfortunately this style of work became associated with downsizing. It also suffered from trying to take on too much all at once (changing everything) and ignoring the impacts to people in the organization (change management). But most unfortunately, we also lost the essential message – to think differently, to challenge the status quo – to strive for something completely different.  We need to bring this back – soon!

A friend (an enlightened BPM sage) said to me a few days ago, “the only place automation should come before discovery is in the dictionary.”  So true!  We have taken a detour down the BPM tinkering path – with benefits of increasing productivity and delivering an ROI predominantly achieved by automating manual processes. 

They are certainly great examples of breakthrough thinking – my favorite is BAA and the rethinking of airport capacity/gate handling to increase retail sales, using Pegasystems. These seem to be the exception lost is  a sea of workflow projects. At some point we will exhaust these incremental opportunities – let’s keep BPM at the forefront and top of business executives minds – let’s continue to reinvent, rethink and radically redesign. 

Send me your radical redesign successes.

Follow on Twitter: EliseOlding


Category: BPM Gartner Organizational Change     Tags: , , ,

Gartner BPM Summit Highlights – Sydney, Australia

by Elise Olding  |  September 19, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I’m winging my way to Hawaii for a much anticipated mini-vacation. This seems like a good time to recap some of my takeaways from the Sydney BPM summit – even if it is a month later! (I’m back now and had a great time!)

There was a great turnout 209 attendees – more than expected.  We also had a nice group of vendors and service providers. The attendees represented 11 countries and covered the full spectrum of practitioner levels.

Dr. Michael Rosemann from the Queensland University of Technology was our keynote speaker.  He also conducted a workshop on process innovation. Some of the highlights of his sessions:

In the workshop Dr Rosemann discussed 16 techniques to consider when designing the future state. There is no technology that facilitates break-through thinking when doing the to-be design.   Some were obvious ones that we all consider – stop doing things or reorder activities. Some required rethinking a process by using models from other types of business.  As an example we looked at redesigning a visit to the top of the Empire State Building. The as-is process from a customer experience might look like this:

Wait in Line  ->   Buy Ticket   ->    Wait in Line for Elevator   ->   Enjoy View   ->   Leave

Looking at the as-is the obvious changes were suggested, such as buy the ticket on the elevator to remove the customer wait times.  The interesting concepts were to think about how other business models work and could be adapted here – for instance, consider a taxi or parking lot model where  customers pay based on the time they use. Applying that to this example might yield an approach where customers would pay based on how much time they spent enjoying the view. In this scenario, they would go to the top – removing the wait times, enjoy the view and pay on their way out while at the top.  (Realize this is for example purposes and we weren’t looking at capacities or other risk issues.)

Another example was a customer loyalty card at a grocery store, contrasted with an airline frequent flyer program. In general, the card at the grocer gets you promotional coupons and price reductions but consider rewarding elite shoppers with services such as personal shopping service, expedited checkout and rewards that are on par with the airline program and you may come up with a process that provides a (perhaps fleeting) competitive advantage.  Great opportunities here.   

Thinking your industry or organization is unique could possibly bias you from considering proven ideas from other sectors. “My organization is unique” resonated strongly in Australia – just like the rest of the world!  See my previous blog.

My favorite example of rethinking a process from Dr Rosemann was creating a mobile process for buying groceries while in the subway. (Click here for Tesco Homeplus video) Along the wall is a store shelf displaying products – exactly like in the store. A customer points their mobile device at the desired product’s QR code and completes the purchase.  When they get home, the groceries are delivered. (The objective achieved is “Change waiting time to shopping time.”) 

Hopefully some of these examples will inspire us to quit tweaking processes and really get closer to process innovation.  (If I could start a rant, it would be now…STOP THE TWEAKING…but more on that later!)

It was a great first conference and I enjoyed meeting a lot of the attendees. From a social media perspective, this was not really a Twitter crowd, with most of the tweets coming from vendors and Gartner analysts. If you want to review the Twitter stream check out #gartnerbpm.

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Category: BPM Gartner mobile Organizational Change     Tags: , ,

Unique Cultures and Organizational Change

by Elise Olding  |  August 29, 2011  |  2 Comments

An enterprise’s culture is often a source of pride and differentiation. It can also be a hurdle when implementing business process improvement projects.  In my travels and visits with clients all over the world, a common theme is emerging – “we are a unique organization and have a very distinct culture – organizational change practices from other organizational don’t apply to us.” The specifics include statements like:

  • “We are a government organization with long-time employees.”
  • “We are a privately owned company with creativity at our core.”
  • “We are a medium-sized business with US-only employees and growing rapidly.”
  • “We are a large global manufacturing firm that outsources all our back office functions and fosters innovation locally.”
  • “We are a non-profit organization operating in 33 countries with a passion for helping others.”

What follows is an explanation of why practices from other organizations are not of interest and won’t work in this instance. This approach is risky, as generally organizations aren’t very good at organizational change and communication to begin with. Let’s look at this from another angle. Imagine if the medical profession held these same beliefs. A visit to a doctor could go something like this:

      Patient: “I am having problems with my left knee. When I run I feel a pain on the outside. Is there something that I can do to stop the pain?”    

      Doctor:  “Well you do realize that you are a 38 year-old female, who runs, is a project manager and lives in Boulder, Colorado at a high altitude. In addition, no two human bodies are put together exactly the same, which makes it hard for me to use examples of others with knee pain to diagnose what is wrong with your knee.”

This would be the last time you visit this doctor! Many organizations hold onto the belief that they are unique, missing the opportunities to learn from leading practices of others.  It is important to understand the nuances of each culture and use these to guide the development of the organizational change plan that leverages a litany of great techniques and pitfalls from other enterprises. Successful organization change requires both. I believe in using frameworks that are culturally sensitive while leveraging leading practices in successful organizational change. Don’t handicap your change efforts from the start – understand the body of available techniques and leverage those that will resonate with your culture.

Getting over the fact your organization is unique and can’t learn from others is likely your first organizational change challenge!


Category: BPM Gartner Organizational Change     Tags: , ,