Short Term


My first taste of gymnastics was at school. We used the British Amateur Gymnastics Association system, affectionately known as the BAGA awards. They were a series of awards of increasing levels of difficulty, from BAGA 6, the easiest, up to BAGA 1 the hardest. The programme was designed to bring young children into the world of gymnastics in a gradual and safe way, building the level of skill and difficulty as they progressed.

There were several gymnastic tasks you had to demonstrate in order to complete each stage, the prize for which was a cloth badge and certificate. I recall that amongst the tasks I had to complete to achieve BAGA 6 I had to stand still on a wide, low bench with my arms outstretched and jump neatly with both feet together onto a soft mat. I also had to do a forward roll. Not exactly hard tasks but they did the job of being an introduction to control and movement. I think I progressed as far as BAGA 4, though some of my classmates went all the way to number 1.

It was the same with learning to swim. If you learned to swim through a formal programme, you will probably have started with your 5m badge for swimming 5m. Then moved onto your 10m, 25m, 50m and 100m badges, and so on. I remember getting extra awards for treading water in my pyjamas for 2 minutes and diving to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a rubber brick. If you learned more recently you probably took part in the Level 1-8 system.

Breaking down a long-term goal into manageable tasks and challenges helps people to stay engaged. By chunking a large, difficult task into smaller pieces it keeps the near future in the focus of customers. It’s a way of gaming the long-term into something that feels more immediate.

Examples of levels in action:

• Students studying for their degree focusing on the next assignment, the next semester.

• We have an education system broken down into “key stages”.

• People who are trying to lose a lot of weight focus on the next half stone, the next stone, or the next 5% body weight.

• Long-term construction projects, such as the building of new highways and railroads are described in phases.

• Computer games are designed to hold players interest and keep motivation high by introducing levels and increasing degrees of difficulty as players progress.

• Long-term business plans are chunked down into quarterly targets. We use the language of milestones, quarterly reviews and deliver long-term strategies in stages.

• Talking of milestones… when travelling we break long journeys up by focusing on the next big town we’ll pass.

• People wanting to learn a new language or how to draw, or practice yoga are taught in classes ranging through beginner, intermediate and expert levels.

• Airlines have different levels of loyalty membership for passengers, based on the number of air miles they have and the frequency with which they travel.

If you could break down elements of your service into different levels, increasing in complexity and difficulty and value over time, how would you do it and what would you include in each level?