September 28 2012, 9:21 AM

It occurred to me this week that gamification has been around for decades, but it hasn’t been until games could be carried in our pocket (coupled with our constant and burning need for instant gratification) that the term has gotten any attention as a true practice.

My revelation came to me in the form of Girl Scout badges. The Girl Scouts of America are arguably one of the most successful nonprofits to ever exist. Although you might not know their handshakes or their songs, everyone knows their mission is to make more confident and empowered girls. They have found this success through decades of social networking (bringing girls that may be friends or only peripherally know each other together in groups) and gamification (rewarding girls with badges for accomplishing tasks that take them outside of their comfort zone). And the system works, for over 100 years now.

My point is this. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest technology as the silver bullet solution to your mission, but often it’s better to stop and take a look at real-world solutions that are effective and figure out how technology can make them more effective.