The Power of Gamification: A Case Study on Chegg's Success and Gamification for Knowledge Management


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Sep 20, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Gamification: A Case Study on Chegg's Success and Gamification for Knowledge Management


In the realm of startups, few have achieved the level of success and growth that Chegg has experienced. Initially founded in 2001 as a platform for college students, it wasn't until 2008 that Chegg found its breakthrough with textbook rentals. This article will delve into Chegg's journey, exploring their innovative GLEe Model (Get big, lead, and expand) and DHM Model (Delight, Hard to copy, Margin-enhancing), which played a crucial role in their success. Additionally, we will explore the concept of gamification in knowledge management and its potential to enhance motivation and knowledge sharing.

Chegg's Success: A Case Study

Chegg's game-changing moment came with the introduction of textbook rentals. By offering students the opportunity to rent textbooks for a fraction of the price of buying new ones, Chegg provided overwhelming value to its target audience. Students could now save money, making education more accessible. Physical books also offered advantages that eTextbooks couldn't match, such as the ability to highlight text using a marker. This unique selling point resonated with students, propelling Chegg's growth.

The GLEe Model: Get Big, Lead, and Expand

The GLEe Model played a pivotal role in Chegg's success. It encompassed the key strategies that allowed Chegg to grow and dominate the market. One such strategy was the creation of a "student graph," a comprehensive dataset that included all the textbooks, content, and courses on each campus. Leveraging this information, Chegg developed unique personalization technology, enabling students to buy and sell class notes. Additionally, a social platform, resembling a Facebook-style newsfeed, was built based on the student graph data. However, while this feature didn't gain traction, it showcased Chegg's commitment to innovation and experimentation.

The DHM Model: Delight, Hard to Copy, Margin-Enhancing

The DHM Model further exemplified Chegg's commitment to providing value to students. By focusing on delighting their customers, offering services that were hard to replicate, and enhancing profit margins, Chegg solidified its position as a leader in the education industry. The company started by providing step-by-step solutions to textbook answers, which eventually expanded into other areas of homework help, writing assistance, tutoring, and flashcards. The creation of a monthly subscription service called "Chegg Study" further reinforced the brand and contributed to its viral growth.

Incentive Design and Gamification for Knowledge Management

While Chegg's success story showcases the power of innovative models, it's essential to explore other realms where gamification can be applied. Knowledge management often focuses on technical and structural aspects, neglecting the role of human motivation and willingness to share knowledge. This is where gamification comes into play. By incorporating game mechanics into knowledge management systems, organizations can increase employee motivation and foster a culture of knowledge sharing.

The Effects of Gamification on Motivation and Knowledge Sharing

Numerous studies have shown that gamification can have a positive impact on motivation and knowledge sharing behavior. By introducing elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards, employees are incentivized to actively engage with knowledge management systems. Gamification taps into intrinsic motivators like competition, achievement, and social recognition, making the process of sharing and acquiring knowledge more enjoyable and rewarding.

Actionable Advice for Successful Gamification in Knowledge Management:

  • 1. Define Clear Objectives: Clearly define the goals and objectives of the gamification initiative in knowledge management. Identify the specific behaviors or outcomes you want to encourage, such as increased knowledge sharing, collaboration, or problem-solving.
  • 2. Design Engaging and Meaningful Challenges: Create challenges and activities that are relevant and meaningful to the employees. Ensure that the tasks align with their daily work and provide opportunities for growth and learning.
  • 3. Provide Real-Time Feedback and Rewards: Incorporate real-time feedback mechanisms to provide employees with immediate recognition and rewards. This can be in the form of virtual badges, points, or even tangible incentives. Regularly communicate progress and achievements to keep employees motivated and engaged.


Chegg's remarkable success story serves as a testament to the power of innovative models and strategies in the startup world. By focusing on providing value, delighting customers, and continuously innovating, Chegg has become a leader in the education industry. Similarly, gamification holds immense potential in knowledge management, boosting employee motivation and knowledge sharing. By implementing gamification strategies and incorporating elements of competition, achievement, and rewards, organizations can create a culture of active knowledge sharing and continuous learning. So, embrace the power of gamification and unlock the full potential of your organization's knowledge management system.

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