Gamifying short term focus

We often use mini-games to set shorter-term priorities and/or to focus particular attention on resolving an issue in the course of a sprint. Gamifying the challenge can help a team really get out of “thinking about” and into “doing” mode. This is especially effective for work that the team has been procrastinating on for too long.

What is a Mini-Game

As an example, suppose the Customer Success team has collected a pile of 90 unresolved issues. The team realizes that these unresolved issues pose a major risk of bad customer feedback, so they decide to do something about it.

The challenge and the prize

For their next 2-week sprint, the team leader sets up a Mini-Game where, if every single unresolved issue gets a personal answer, she will take the entire team for a fancy dinner. She also asks the team to keep score and report the score every day.

Self-organizing to win the challenge

However, she leaves it to the team how to organize and whether to get to the 90 complaints. Feeling challenged, some team members start splitting up the complaints across the 9 team members so that everyone has 10. They set up a quick scoreboard and track everybody’s score against each other. But when they see two team members falling behind, they also realize this is a team challenge and they step in to help.

End result

More often than not, the team feels energized about meeting the challenge and builds renewed solidarity in the process.

Mini-games: what to do and what not to do

  • Do set one challenge for a sprint, don’t set multiple challenges in parallel
  • Do set new challenges regularly, don’t repeat the same challenge with a new target
  • Do “celebrate” losses as much as wins, but don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of money on them (soup kitchen rather than fancy restaurant)

New content

This page is regularly updated. Please check the Midstage Manual for new content for this page.

About Midstage Institute

We focus our practice on midstage startup companies that need to remain agile, and where what used to work for the smaller startup just isn’t as effective anymore.


We ensure founders and leadership teams win, with our over 40 years experience in venture-backed tech startups. We are Silicon Valley veterans with the scars and wins to prove it. We don’t use an inflexible off-the shelf methodology, we adapt best practices to you, your market, your company, and your leadership team.


We always:

  • Focus on right sized best practices to get to the next level
  • Focus on the 20% of effort that will yield you 80% of the benefits
  • Teach Perfection is the enemy, better is your partner and ally
  • Align with your business needs so you can thrive