Which actions generate exponential growth

During a GameStorm session in 2017 the objective for the session was inspired by the book ‘Bold‘ – which I can highly recommend. The objective that we defined was: “How can organizations create exponential growth?” This is a description of what came out of the session:

The challenges that the team defined for there organization were:

  1. The purpose of our organization is not inspiring (recognizable?)
  2. Lack of focus (no vision, mission or inspiring purpose)
  3. Ill use of the time we have (meetings, chatting, e-mailing)

The actions that were chosen that most likely keep challenge 1 in place were:

  1. Write down a very broad purpose statement with lots of business lingo
  2. We would rather execute work for clients than bother writing down our purpose
  3. Let one department, management (or even one director) write down the purpose statement

The actions that were chosen to overcome the challenge 1 (the purpose is not inspiring), were:

  1. Make your purpose statement visual or create an inspiring movie
  2. We will organize a day during which we will define the purpose together with the whole team
  3. We organize a ‘thank-you’ event each quarter to celebrate succes, the bigger our succes – the bigger the event will be.

The destructive actions that were chosen that most likely keep challenge 2 in place (Lack of focus), were:

  1. Say yes to each new request or opportunity
  2. Create a project team for each new idea
  3. Assign teams to a different project, half-way the project they were working on

The constructive actions that were chosen to overcome the challenge 2, were:

  1. We aim all actions towards the same purpose and manage departments on why & what should be achieved, not how.
  2. I give people time and budget to do training to develop skills they expect to need to achieve the set objective (purpose)
  3. I help the team to celebrate and visualize both their efforts and results on a Kanban-board and review the actions each day

The actions that were chosen that most likely keep challenge 3 in place (Ill use of the time we have), were:

  1. Doing other people’s work, because it has to be done
  2. Appreciating and rewarding people that participate in more than 20 (!) projects
  3. We start every week with ‘leaning up’ followed by a daily scrum, a week-meeting and a specialist-session…

The actions that were chosen to overcome the challenge 3, were:

  1. We will give people time and budget to do a time management training (2nd time)
  2. We reduce the work-week to 32 hours (and pay 40) and note the actions that I stop executing.
  3. We will start to observe and measure which tasks are repetitive and will automate or outsource them

Three of the actions mentioned regarded development or training or employees or reducing ‘work-hours’. Personally I take about 30% of my time to read and write publications and do presentations about what I read or wrote. Forcing myself to read what’s new, innovative or just interesting keeps my mind open to new ways of looking at things. Sharing this knowledge with others gives me both a sense or purpose and fulfillment. And apart from that, presenting the information in my own way enables me to actually ‘master’ what I read or wrote. What inspires me most is reading books or watching documentaries outside of my business (branding / organizational change and gamification). I strongly encourage organizations to facilitate employees in developing new skills, interests and explore usage of their talents in different areas of their business. Why not rotate people from time to time through different departments surrounding different purposes. Let them join meetings they usually would not be in and ask for their non-biased opinion. We can sometimes solve problems faster using actions that lie outside of the area that created those problems. You could rotate people according to the four progressive processes I defined in my latest book; think, make, sell and improve.

As for the reduction of working-time… I plan to work 24/7 from now on; meaning 24 hours per week. In practice this means I leave my house AFTER traffic to drive to work, so I am in the office around 10 o’ clock and leave again around 16:00 hours BEFORE traffic. Effectively I work 6 hours in the office and I do the necessary phone calls in the car. I should mention that I indeed use those 6 hours to focus only on the things that are in my agenda. And I plan and execute like a German (diligently).

On Friday I don’t work, it’s my dad-day. I understand not all companies and jobs can work like this, unless you rotate tasks and occasionally the CEO should pick up the phone or answer some complaints… To my opinion that should be the job of the CEO anyway – collecting feedback to improve the organization as a whole based on a shared vision and purpose using the key-competences and talents of all members.

Posted in Bart Hufen, GameStorm, Gamification, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Which actions generate exponential growth

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…

Posted in Bart Hufen, BrandNewGame, GameStorm, Gaming research, Retail | 1 Comment »