How FrieslandCampina Uses Knowledge Guru to Increase Engagement (Interview)

I’m convinced that Knowledge Guru customers are a highly creative bunch. Why? They found the game because they were looking to deliver training differently. They wanted a bold, new approach to corporate learning. It comes as no surprise that these same people find creative ways to implement Knowledge Guru in their organization, extending the value of the game beyond what’s included in the subscription.

28d8de279fe9a2a244ad27061a249a4cOne such individual is Mathias Vermeulen, an L&D professional at FrieslandCampina in Belgium. Mathias learned about Knowledge Guru when we launched the Game Creation Wizard at ASTD International, and he was an early adopter of the tool.

Before I share Mathias’ interview, I want to spare you the suspense and reveal one of the secrets to Mathias’ successful implementation of Guru: story outside the story.

We published a post last week about promoting a serious game to learners, where we revealed how ExactTarget used a multi-faceted internal marketing campaign to remind learners to play their Knowledge Guru game. Mathias is also reminding players to play, but with a low-tech approach that is high on creativity.

Each week, Mathias sends an email like this to players (translated from Dutch):

Every week, new players enter the Guru’s arena. This week’s top 3 remains the same, but Knori, Streefje and Katleen amongst others still have some levels to go. They can still beat the mysterious Royvalle. And where is the Sales Retail team, as the Out-of-home team takes the charge in this battle. Are they afraid? Who can beat them? Register now and play!




Mathias is seeing high levels of engagement from players by combining his creative approach to story (including the use of a “mystery player”) with the Knowledge Guru game engine. Learn more about how Mathias is using Knowledge Guru at FrieslandCampina in the interview below:

Who is the game for?

We currently have two Guru games, one Safety Guru (is being tested by a selected panel) and one Dairy Guru. The Safety Guru’s target group is everybody working in our production facility (appr. 250 employees). The Diary Guru has been rolled out in our Sales & Marketing office (appr. 40 employees), and in our production plant for appr. 100 employees.

How it is part of a learning solution? What other pieces are involved in the training?

Since we’re working in a dairy industry, knowledge of dairy and its nutritional values, treatments (UHT, AA, …) are very important. So with Dairy Guru, we try to get people more engaged concerning dairy, our basic product. We used to organize formal trainings on this matter, but retention of knowledge, engagement and motivation were rather poor. This game is a standalone learning solution, but it’s embedded  in our ‘Ambassadorship’ program we rolled out this year.

Safety Guru is built to get people more insights on safety procedures and is part of our e-learning on this topic. People will have to do the e-learning and one of the main modules is the Safety Guru. Reason here is that we listed more than 50 safety rules and instead of using plain text and images and bullet points, we are convinced that the Guru game will be more effective. Also with the tracking in the back end of which questions were answered wrong, we are able to work harder on these questions in future learning activities.

 What results do you hope to produce from Knowledge Guru? What do you want the learners to know or do after playing?

First of all, I want people to have fun learning about rather ‘boring’ topics. We’ve put a lot of effort in the past on these topics but until now we hadn’t found a good balance. We hope that the Guru can break through this barrier. I’m already convinced, and the people who played it also share that thought! For example, yesterday, our production manager tested Safety Guru and he is – let’s say – a traditional learner. But he came into my office and said he had a great time and he saw lots of added value in this approach.

And we hope that in the future, we will have less safety incidents and that people realize how important safety is for themselves and for their colleagues. Regarding the Dairy Guru, we hope that people will see that dairy has a lot of nutritional value and is a key element in our daily life and in our business.

What have been the keys to successful implementation for you? (I’m guessing the weekly emails are part of it)

The key is communication, because playing games and learning are for a lot of people two different things. So we still have to encourage people to try it out; we have to ‘fight’ against the disbelief and the objections. Patience is also needed, because you can’t really force people. Sometimes, It’s taking one step back, and then two steps forwards. The weekly emails make sure you create a buzz around the game, people wonder who player X or player Y is.

What advice would you give to others on creating their first Guru game?

Like any other learning solution, you have to think about what your objectives are. Then, you start creating and creating, before you test it. Testing is crucial, because you get more insights on what could go wrong and what learners need and don’t need. Think, create and test and then test again.

Do you have a story if a successful implementation of Knowledge Guru in your organization? Want to be featured? Get in touch.