Even my 7 year old knows how to “game” the system

My daughter, who is 7, is encouraged by her school to read *a lot*.

She has a yellow reading record book where she records all the occasions that she reads, at school and at home, and each Friday her teacher has a look and awards bronze, silver and gold stars depending on how many times she has read.

I have noticed something interesting.

She is reading *a lot* of books now (great), but she is reading only a page or two of each. She is reading a couple of pages from 3 or 4 books every day.

This initially seemed a bit odd to me. When I was 7, I started to get into chapter books: Enid Blyton of course “Island of Adventure” etc, Stig of the Dump, Roald Dahl etc (happy days).

It took me a while, but I have realised what is going on.

She is gaming her school’s system. She wants that gold star, so she is making sure that she has lots of entries in her reading record, rather than reading for pleasure:

  • 1x long reading session of a chapter book = 1 item on her reading record
  • 3 short bursts = 3 items on her reading record

When I get asked about metrics for KM, I warn people about gaming. I endlessly say things like “You get what you measure” and “People are always more intelligent than systems” and I warn people to think very hard about what end product/behaviours they are trying to encourage with their metrics and design a multi-faceted system to encourage it.

I think from now on I’ll just ask my daughter along for a chat about how she gets her gold stars each week!

I run open training sessions on KM measurement in London (Feb/June/Oct). Learn more here.

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I also talk about “gaming” and “measurement options” in my popular “KM: The Works” training session (January/May/September). Find out more here.

About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
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