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Sunday, September 23, 2012

West Michigan Life Science Information Exchange event

Life Science Information Exchange in West Michigan

It’s not San Diego and it’s not Boston, it’s the left half of the mitten and we have one the most broad spectrums of life sciences companies in the region.  Our local skills certainly have a global reach.  The range of life science companies in West Michigan is expansive:

·        Drug development

·        API manufacturers

·        Clinical laboratories

·        Pre-clinical laboratories

·        Chemistry laboratories

·        Biotech research

·        Equipment manufacturers/suppliers

·        Reagent suppliers

·        Medical Device manufacturers

·        Veterinary drug development

·        Animal models

·        Life Science consulting groups

·        Life science project management

·        Life Science business incubators

·        Research Hospitals

·        Research Universities

Until now there has not been a concerted effort to organize an event which connects this broad range of organizations and services. That ends on October 18, when the life science community comes together to participate in a Life Science Information Exchange event providing the opportunity for this entire spectrum to interact and discuss current issues, opportunities and challenges. This fast paced meeting will cover a broad range of topics that each person will find useful on a variety of levels.   There will also be plenty of time for participants to expand their business network. The Southwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) has partnered with the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center (SMIC) to launch this inaugural event.  Everyone working in a life science-related field is welcome. The event is free.  Registration is strongly recommended:  You will find this event to be well worth your time. 

Life Sciences in West Michigan?  It’s part of our DNA.

Event flyer:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Gamification of Training Records

The Gamification of Training Records
Every day we are being “gamed” without our significant awareness. Whether you have a competitive nature or not, gaming elements are being used to manipulate your behavior to achieve someone else’s goal. Gamification is the application of gaming elements, strategies and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.  Since you are reading this on-line blog it is likely that you are also clued into some of the most popular social media websites such as Facebook®, Twitter® or LinkedIn®.  It’s pretty clear that there are games on Facebook®, but by comparison LinkedIn® is rather dry and is “strictly business”.  So the fact that you are being gamed by it with every visit may come as a surprise.  I am certain there are more examples, but here are three very easily identifiable ones:

1)     “Your profile is 85% complete”. Much like your local United Way® thermometer which indicates how many donations have been contributed, LinkedIn® wants you to know just how close you are to a goal.  It is our competitive nature to want to meet the goal.  And gee, I only have 15% of the way to go.  LinkedIn® will profess what the benefits are to being 100% complete, thus drawing us into the quest to achieve their goal.  We are being gamed and for that matter, the United Way is gaming us too.


2)     726 Connections link you to 4,569,663 professionals”.  Nearly all LinkedIn® users know that the exact number of connections isn’t public once it hits 500.  That in its self may be motivation to gain connections, despite their warning not to connect with people you haven’t actually met, but LinkedIn® provides you with an automatic list of people that you might want to connect with.  Click on any of them, and you have been gamed.


3)     “Your profile has been viewed 8 times in the last 3 days”.  WHO viewed my profile?  Thus clicking the provided link takes you to the screen to show you who viewed your profile.  The point is to draw you to another section of LinkedIn®. Simultaneously, LinkedIn® provides the opportunity to not only study/worry/ponder about who has been stalking you, but to encourage you to enroll in a premium account.  They have moved you along the game with your full consent. You have been gamed.



Applying Gamification Methods to Training Records

In a GLP environment, training records are paramount to compliance and the motivation to have complete records and at the same time promote cross-training is a win-win situation for the organization.  Borrowing a page out of LinkedIn®’s playbook can assist in achieving these goals.  These methods are certainly easier to administer if the training records are in electronic format, but this is not exclusively required. 


Much like the %profile complete described above, there is usually a defined list of procedures that the staff must be trained in (initiated and authorized to perform). If the technician is 47% complete on their training goal, then they will strive to complete that next 3% microgoal. It is human nature, but they have to know where they sit on the continuum in order to make the motivation work.  While there may be a financial reward (at your institution) for completion of all of the goals, microgoals along the way make the journey more pleasing to take. 


Exactly like the number of LinkedIn® connections, the number of activities that the staff is cross-trained in needs to also be tracked. A salesman with a higher number of LinkedIn connections is one indicator of span of reach and similarly the more procedures that the staff is trained in benefits the organization with flexibility, maturity, and succession planning.  Proving the technical staff with their numerical rank on procedures mastered, can motivate them to achieve the next milestone.


Additional reinforcement of the microgoals may include such gamified achievements in the bronze, silver, and gold levels.  [This sort of level naming can reach absurdities as indicated by the gamified announcements for boarding an airplane: “Delta® now welcomes all SkyTeam® Platinum Elite Plus members”.]  Bronze level technicians may work in a single department, silver may work in 3 departments and gold level may work in all areas.  Who wouldn’t want to be a gold level technician?  Eventually, the technician will be financially gratified, but in the meantime, they get a distinction that sets them apart. 


Utilizing the ubiquitous Microsoft® SharePoint® can ease the tracking of all of the aforementioned elements so that the technician’s progress, achievements, and quests are readily available.


The gamification of your training records can self-motivate your staff to achieve the goals of your organization.