GameStorm solved problems

Did you know our GameStorm method solves problems? And not only that – it generates actionable ideas that lead to great achievements, executed by the very same professionals that worked on them! How much more engagement do you need than moving people in directions they feel is the right way? We have been experiencing great results since the introduction of the GameStorm in 2011. And the cool part is, we can anonymously share some great ideas on some generic challenges that clients (organizations) might face.

Take employee involvement and training in retail for instance. One of our retail clients described their objective in 2014 as follows: “Implement effective hr tactics in order to have flexible use of our employees”. The challenges that retailers face and various teams defined during the GameStorm session where (amongst others):

  1. Coordination of training during the day time work
  2. Helping other employees to level up their game
  3. Finding the right people for the right positions you have to fill

Now these challenges are not unique. As a matter a fact, we faced the same challenges when I used to work as a Channel Marketing Manager for Diesel. But these days, these challenges have a much bigger impact on your business playground and – in the end – your P&L than in 2010. It’s do or die these days…

(Destructive) Behavior that was chosen and proven to keep these challenges alive are (amongst others):

  • No pep talks [on challenge 1]
  • No relationship with the team mates [on challenge 1]
  • Not taking time to develop people, in other words: rushing the training [on challenge 1]

Possibly due to the digital era we live in, even in a store, people do not build up a relation anymore (point 2), neither do they do motivational speeches or ‘pep-talks’ to inspire and stimulate each other. Especially in difficult times it can be highly effective to discuss the elephant in the room, give it a name and cut it in pieces (not literally of course). Because not talking about the elephant in the room will not scare it away – acting up will! And as for the third action: not taking time to develop people, I have a brilliant comment I once read. The CFO says: “What if we develop our employees and they leave our company…?” CEO says: “What if we don’t develop them and they will stay working in our organization?!” If you want to become (or remain) a game changer on your playground these days you have to continuously invest in your human capital. If you don’t you have already lost the battle from online webshops like Ali Baba, Amazon and others. But fortunately for us, the GameStorm also let’s you look on the positive side, defining constructive behavior to overcome the chosen challenges.

Ways to overcome this challenge (Coordination of training during day time work), that were chosen during the GameStorm session were:

  • Use active feedback to improve your training every session over and over again
  • Let your experts (in-store) lead training sessions 1 on 1
  • Write don a game plan for the day or week, within to do’s: who gets his training at what time on which priorities

I cannot stress it enough and I have done that in my most recent book, but there is only 1 way (really just one), to improve over and over again and it is: feedback. The way players learn in games is thanks to feedback. Take the game Pac-Man. You are a yellow guy, eating cookies in a maze. The more cookies you eat, the more points you get (feedback) and the cookies disappear (feedback). If you eat a ‘special’ cooky (inspired by the Dutch I presume), recognizable because of the flickering (feedback), you can eat the ghosts that hunt you. Their colour changes (feedback) as soon as you eat a special cooky. If you kill a ghost, they change into flickering eyes and you see a score (200, 400, 800, 1600 – all feedback)… Need I continue to explain how important feedback is in games? The same goes for real-life… Humans can only improve by giving feedback, but we are really bad at giving motivational feedback. This is why we developed a game for that in 2016 for a big red mobile phone carrier (project to be disclosed soon). What I learned about giving feedback is: be authentic, be critically honest and always end positive with a plan of actions to be taken. For all I care: use the GameStorm structure! In a (really tiny) nutshell: What can we agree upon that you will do in the future, what did you do that did not work (in my opinion), what are you planning on improving in the future (or which suggestions do I have for you), so we can progress…?

A lot of retail organizations are afraid to ‘waste time’ on training, but the people in your store are the only – and I repeat the only – relevant discriminating factor for consumers these days that can persuade us into buying things – apart from great design (which plays with our sub-conscious). It is the people in your store that can make a difference. Not the product, not the price, not the place (location, location, location = web these days – wake up!), nor your promotional (mostly bull shit – and we recognize it) ad-campaign…
It is people and their actions that influence me in buying or leaving. And actually I strongly believe you cannot sell products to people, you have to let people decide to buy…

So don’t book a ticket to our GameStorm Trooper Training, we are not selling this product, you can only buy into it… 😉 More information can be found here should you be interested…

Your business model is being disrupted…

Most companies don’t realize it yet, but their business model is being corrupted… disrupted. Competitors come from area’s you would never expect them to come from. Hotels nowadays compete with private homes that are rented out through Air BNB, the taxi industrie compete with people driving people in their privately owned cars. Will energy companies soon loose their business to private energy providers? What can companies and their employees do to stop being a victim of continuous change and the accelerating speed of it…? How can you become a game changer like – for instance – Red Bull was in the nineties? There is a simple five-step program for that, which supports continuous change (or progress as I call it).

It all starts with exploring your current business playground and recognizing the most important (potential) players… Once you know who will play a role on your playground, you can uncover if their influence is growing or declining and whether that is good or bad. What you then do in detail will be explained in our GameStorm Trooper training on 13 & 14 September. The next steps are: determine the…

  1. Purpose of the most important players and define how your organization can contribute to that
  2. Players: who are they? And what drives their actions? In other words, what do they want, know, able to and dare to do on the professional playground?
  3. Proces: which key processes determine your progressive growth (or decline) in other words: which actions can lead to synergy regarding your turn-over and costs.
  4. Performance: how well do you do? Versus competitors, versus last years, versus your power?
  5. Play: last but not least: if you underperform as an organization? How can you change the way people work, or actually: how can employees change their way of working?

The answer lies in the GameStorm methodology that I developed in 2012, which has been played by over 1.000 professionals since then. It helps companies to support employees to continuous change their routine in a fun and functional manner. Change is inevitable but often perceived as annoying. Therefore we make it fun to start with (and effective in the long run). The GameStorm uses game mechanics that make most games so addictive, like setting a goal, defining obstacles, providing players with dilemma’s (they have to make choices), voting on actions and calculating the impact of their old and new behavior. The GameStorm helped over 100 companies to transform their challenges into change and create perpetual progress by executing it each fiscal quarter. If you want to know how we do this, join the Gamification Academy and get an official certificate and start playing around with problems! More information can be found here.

 

Bart Hufen about Gamification during TedX Hilversum

This is my talk about the power of play and unlocking creativity to solve problems versus using the game-loop for routine to become better. Feedback is welcome through Twitter @BartHufen #gamification

Modify Watches – Overachievers

I ordered a Tetris watch years ago at Modify Watches and was so impressed by the way they deliver, I just had to share it through Vine, Twitter – and our website. Check it out!

Afraid to be disrupted? Organize for flexibility!

About the necessary transformation from organizational pyramids to processing power for similar purposes… 

 social-pyramid-ancient-egypt 

I was doing research for my new book ‘Playing on the job’ (working title) when I stumbled upon this picture of how a kingdom worked in the middle ages and concluded that this is actually how a lot of organizations (and countries) still work. Where a pyramid is actually a solid structure that can last for centuries – as an organizational structure it is far from ideal. For some reason we just never seem to have found an alternative in the past centuries and even decades. One of the main reasons for this is the internal obstacles that need to be overcome… The most dominant obstacles I discovered during my research are: 

  1. organizational structure 
  2. systems / software 
  3. lack of support (from either management or employees) to change, often caused by the ruling company culture. 

Why organizational change is so hard to achieve is that in most cases the current structure is perceived as solid and the software and systems (compliance, legal, business rules, KPI’s) keep the structure in it’s place. If not the structure and systems, the lack of support ensures that the desired change will actually never take place. You could say that change will never happen if the culture doesn’t allow it to happen. 

Inspired by games and game mechanics I’ve come up with a new structure that might help organizations to transform, continuously and infinitely. It all starts with defining the purpose on different levels: 

  1. Purpose or mission for the entire organization 
  2. Objective for a business unit or department 
  3. Goals for individual business leaders, managers or category members 
  4. Challenges for employees 

We often see that different departments have different KPI’s. If you create islands in your organization and hold them accountable for different KPI’s they will never work together, let alone help each other to achieve those challenges, goals or objectives. If you make all departments responsible for the same / similar goals they most likely will help each other…

During my years in advertising we developed a lot of ‘brand books’ explaining the brand values and positioning of a particular company or brand. Of course it also described the purpose (or mission) of the company. What we never did was explaining how these values or how the main purpose could work or how they were relevant for individual departments or employees. The main thing that drives people in life is purpose, often fueled by curiosity and lust for more… (better, faster, stronger).

model_3.5

So a pyramid is an excellent structure in terms of building a long lasting organization, given that you align purpose with objectives, goals and challenges. However to overcome those challenges and to be able to achieve the set goals and objectives, a pyramid is terrible structure to work with. Especially in this digital age where the internet and international scale of the economy forces organizations to become more agile, lean and responsive a new way of ‘organizing’ is needed. So how can you organize for flexibility? 

Inspired by games I came up with the following evolution which could lead to a revolution in your organization and help you to withstand disruption. Instead of working in a hierarchic structure, managers (and employees) should work around in a processes that supports the purpose in the pyramid. So to organize for flexibility companies should transform from a hierarchic / pyramid structure to a process oriented structure. I gave an example below for the sales process.

 model_1.7

A CEO wants to have happy clients. This can be achieved by building an appealing brand (C), which is the CMO’s task. To be able to build a strong brand and make clients happy, the company needs to have the right information about the clients needs and whereabouts (i). If that is all in place, the Chief Commercial Officer can sell the right, relevant products to the right clients within the right context (time and place) through the right channels.
Instead of communicating these KPI’s in a hierarchic way (top down), you should look for the interdependent relationship of these KPI’s as a process. In other words: how can an appealing brand gather information on and create customer insights that lead to better products and eventually more sales? Instead of rewarding departments for individual objectives, you can reward all contributors to the process equally for their efforts or effect on the process.

If you want me to explain how this could work for your organization, send an email to Bart at BrandNewGame (dot com  ;-).

Our Agile ‘Game Plan’

Elementen-23

This summer, I will speak about my new business model at Scrum Day Europe in Amsterdam and Agile Greece Conference in Athens. The business model I invented is derived from computer games and game mechanics. Really? Yes really. But a lot of these mechanics can also be found in scientific models, loads of management books and are often part of agile and lean methodologies. Let’s say I applied ‘game thinking’ or gamification to organizational thinking. It’s apparent that organizations are forced to continuously change their mix of people and properties in order to remain relevant to their buyers, consumers and users. It takes a lot of energy commitment and guts to transform whole organizations. Not many people are willing to change, not even capable or just scared that change might lead to undesired consequences (losing their job or sense of control). In fact, when I was in the proces of uncovering why people do or do not undertake necessary actions, fear is often the most dominant factor. Taking actions that change the way you work, live or a complete organizations need: willingness, knowledge, physical action and the right amount of guts. In other words, change needs:

  1. Want to
  2. Know what to
  3. Able to
  4. Dare to

It requires the right amount of drive and motivation to make people want to change. Then they should know what to do to start the change. Then they should be enabled (given the right amount of freedom or responsibility and necessary means) to physically act in the right direction with decisiveness and power. And finally… if the three mentioned previous elements are executed well, they will feel comfortable making that change. If not, they need to be pushed over the edge by management or colleagues. You can do that by making the first step incredibly easy, fun and measurable to be able to celebrate succes shortly after. We call this: play! If you consider change, playing around – it’s not so scary anymore. Call it an experiment, call it an alternative. Challenge people daily to achieve the same goal in a different way and see what they come up with.

Oftentimes change management is perceived as being a ‘project’ or a temporary thing. But change is constant. You might say that the CEO should be the Change Executive Officer. He should lead the change as change should be the primary drive of every organization, at least when change is the equivalent of: improvement. Each CEO should look at his organization day in-day out thinking: what can we do different today that will change the world tomorrow. We are successful doing what we do now, but what will deliver more success tomorrow? You need to ‘level up’ each time you successfully went through all states of the process. From an MVP, to a version 2.0, to 2.1, etc. If you know 50% of all product introductions fail, because companies look at it as a failure. It’s just version 1.0 … now improve. F.A.I.L. stands for: First Attempt In Learning…

Elementen-03

The business model I developed as part of the Game Plan consists of four processes that each organization should manage. These processes are:

  1. Thinking process
  2. Making process
  3. Selling process
  4. Improvement process

I suggest the CEO is responsible for process No. 4. The commercial officer should take care of No. 3, the COO or No. 2 and the CIO (or R&D) of No. 1. Instead of organizing them in teams under the CEO, they should all be part of the same main process. It’s a continuous cycle, not a solid structure of people managing a department with different KPI’s. We can only build pyramids with similar purposes, but we should not organize people in pyramids. We should organize people around processes (oud = old, nieuw = new).

Elementen_1.6 - 1.7

They all strive to do better next time, so the only KPI is sales or profit. Increase profit, by increasing turnover and reducing (relative) costs. In the following picture you can see that if the same CEO, CMO, CTO and CCO work together in the same process, you can actually expect that to work together even though their KPI is different. Happy customers and employees deliver a good brand equity and NPS. Analyzing and listening to your clients and employees delivers great ideas for new sales opportunities, you can deliver according to their needs if you listen well enough and increase sales, etc.

The Game Plan that I have developed is based on 100+ management books and uses game mechanics that most successful games use. It consists of the following five P’s (that are interdependent):

  1. People on your playground
  2. Purpose pyramid of your key players
  3. Process
  4. Performance
  5. Play (how can we make the necessary functionalities more fun)

We developed several tools that can improve your process and performance significantly. Amongst them are the GameStorm and the Progress Loop method. These are all proven and in-house developed methods that BrandNewGame exclusively offers to their clients and licensed partners. You can read about them in my new book ‘Playing on the job’ (due in 2017) or come to the seminars I speak upcoming year! First up are:

Join me at the upcoming events (links will follow) or follow me on Twitter @BartHufen #Gamification

Progress Loop presentation in Sarajevo

In 2015 I was invited to speak during Bosnia Agile Day in Sarajevo. It was a wonderful experience and I got to test the vision I have on using ‘game thinking’ in a company-wide perspective. The model in my new book ‘Playing on the job’ (due in 2017) is called the Progress-Loop and will be explained in the presentation below. Enjoy and share it on Twitter #gamification. If you have any questions about it, send me a tweet @barthufen

Gamification of Business

On October 17th 2015, I was invited to give a presentation about gamification of businesses and organizations. Particularly I disclosed the essence of my new book “Playing on the Job” (out in 2016 I hope) – my main model – the ‘Loop of Progress’. The idea of the ‘Loop of Progress’ is that you identify which concurrent processes lead to synergie in your organization and create multi-disciplinairy teams to take part in those processes, rather than letting departments do that. Inspired from FarmVille – I started rethinking business processes and business models, from understanding the gameloop and other game mechanics and applying them to your daily business. In this presentation I explain our GameStorm tool – that we use to develop our serious games and help to start making a change in organizations like the City of Amsterdam, Foot Locker Europe and Vodafone. And – of course – I elaborate on the ‘Loop of Progress’…

Twitch: gamers watching gamers playing games

Dota 2 Tournament finals In the year 2000, being a product manager at Atari (formally know as Infogrames) I organized one of the first online game competitions in the Benelux with a real-life finale called ‘Gamer of the Year’. Thanks to the support of Clanbase we managed to start with an on-line competition amongst players of Unreal Tournament – one of the games in my portfolio. After the on-line pre-rounds, we held a grand finale in Antwerp, sponsored by Diesel and Red Bull, for the 64 best players in the Benelux. I never expected that e-sports would take off after that – and for a long time – it actually didn’t. Sure, there were a lot of tournaments going on on-line and offline (LAN-Parties) using games like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counter Strike and later Call of Duty, but never on a global scale and with the financial support it deserved. Since 2013 however, this all changed. I guess it all accelerated thanks to  Twitch.tv founded in 2011.
Twitch is an online streaming video service where gamers can watch gamers playing games. To be honest I never saw the fun in that, but nowadays it is so popular that Twitch is in the Top 10 websites responsible for the most data traffic in the world, alongside Amazon, Facebook and Google… The first company – Amazon – bought Twitch recently for a little under ONE BILLION DOLLARS ! Can you imagine that a video streaming service, launched four years ago has generated so much interest in four years time that it is worth that much money?! How much is one billion dollars spread over four years of days or hours…? Well… it’s $ 694.444,- per day… Or a little under $ 30.000 per hour in the past four years. So Twitch is huge – and online gaming is huge. Games like Candy Crush (less hardcore than Call of Duty maybe), are being played by 50 million people on Facebook – and by estimate – another 50 million people play it on their mobile phones. A game like DOTA2 (more hardcode than Candy Crush 😉 is being played by one million gamers every day. Defense of the Alliance 2, originally a modification for Warcraft 3 is a favorite amongst gamers that participate in competitions. Why don’t you take a wild guess, how much prize money was available in 2015 during the finals of a DOTA2 competition in China. I will state the answer below – not to spoil your fun of guessing. The winning team ‘Evil Geniuses’ (from the USA) left the battle field with more than six million dollars to give you a feeling about the seriousness of playing games as e-sports athlete these days. Companies often ask if gaming is big – and how big it is. Well, if I tell you that the average football players in Europe earn less than three million if you play in the Premier League (UK) and a meagre €300.000 in The Netherlands… you might want to switch to playing digital games… The total prize money of the finals of The International 2015 was 18 million dollars. Apart from the money, the fanbase is so involved and committed that cinema’s organize live finals where gamers gather to view their heroes! Will that be the future of cinema’s…? Proving a theater for watching gamers playing games…? It just might…

Presentations – upcoming Q4 2015

For all you globetrotters that want to meet me in person, here’s a quick overview of upcoming events where I will talk about my biggest hobby: games in relationship with brand- / marketing- and (change) management.

Bart Hufen tijdens Creative Trends 2011Join me on the following dates in the following locations for a sneak preview about me new book:

Adfolive (NL) : 15-9 2015 workshop Gamification (closed session)

University of Amsterdam (NL): 23-9 2015 workshop setting goals for serious games (closed session)

University of Amsterdam (NL): 7-10 2015 workshop project management & production of serious games (closed session)

Amsterdam Dance Event ADE (NL): 15-10 2015:  moderating a panel session about music for games and other media (open session)

Bosnia Agile Day (Sarajevo): 17-10-2015 presentation how game mechanics can help companies to become more agile (open session)

Agile in Africa (Ghana – Accra): presentation how game mechanics can help companies to become more agile (open session)

Inzet op maat (NL): 3-11-2015 presentation and sharing successes of recent projects (open session)

WEKA HR Strategie (NL): 11-11 2015 presentation and sharing successes of recent projects (two open sessions)

HRM & het onderwijs (NL): 17-11 2015 presentation and sharing successes of recent projects (open session)

HR Goes digital (NL): 19-11 2015 presentation and sharing successes of recent projects (open session)