The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

, , ,

Lessons Learned From Gaming

systematicHR Avatar

Ok, I’ll admit that I’ve been playing this on-line game.  It’s a MMORPG (I can’t believe I remembered that whole thing) and I play a priest in a guild of mages, fighters, archers, etc.  What I find entertaining about it is not the game-play, but the collaboration that is necessary to make the game work.  Ok, so I haven’t actually played in 6 months, but here’s the basic story: Within the game, there are what are called “bosses” or really crazily hard to kill monsters.  One of these we have killed a total of 4 times, the only times that this particular boss has been killed.  It took about 50 people close to 5 hours just to take down this boss.  To do this, there is a single guy who stands in front of the boss and hacks away at it for the entire time.  My wife finds this totally implausible since he should die in about 4 seconds, but he’s backed up by about 25 priests who heal nonstop for literally the whole 5 hours.Then you have a set of archers who are shooting arrows at this thing for the whole 5 hours, and then the fighters who are running in every few minutes to hack away and then running back out so they don’t die.  Then there are even the “junior” members of the guild who are allowed (even forced) to sit around and watch how the whole thing is orchestrated so they can learn for future generations.  (for the record, I refuse to participate in anything that takes more than 15 minutes)

The total amount of cooperation and coordination that it takes in this game and games I have seen on TV is absolutely amazing.  If only the same level of coordination occurred in project teams.  We don’t always assemble the right people, the right skills, and we don’t collaborate and communicate in a way that is sustainable for the entire project.

First of all, not only do we need the right people on the team, but we also need diversity from the organization.  Skills are important because at the end of the day we need to execute projects and the skills, experience and knowledge is absolutely critical.  But at the same time, pulling resources from different parts of the organization is the beginning of change management.  If you pull together the right team, not only are you going to execute well, but you’ll begin the adoption process.  There is a significant difference between choosing the right representatives from around the business and getting people for political reasons.  I’ve seen too many project teams who have individuals that don’t really add any value and can’t participate in a change capacity, but they are there only because someone thinks they “should be.”

Second, Put people in for whom the project is a stretch goal.  If you get people who are excited, willing to learn, and have a solid background, you’ll be training your next generation of project team members and expanding your pool of useful people for the future.  All employees ask for (generally) is the opportunity to grow, but we often give cool projects exclusively to the time tested veterans.  it’s ok to plug a few more junior associates into a project so long as they get the necessary guidance.

Third, maintain open communication.  In this game I play, we can chat in the game, and we often also log into voice chats so people can shout out commands (like “wake up!”) or requests (like “heal me”).  Most of it is fairly entertaining because it is after all a game.  But sometimes you need to execute commands and the team can’t be afraid to ask or receive instructions.  “Collegial” is nice, but many projects are too political and members from different factions can’t express themselves.  The result is that unspoken works become nuances that are missed by the audience.  This is sometimes hard to avoid, but you tend to miss actions or even milestones when you just can’t communicate.

It amazes me how a group of 20-somethings can plan and collaborate not only over a 5 hour period, but continuously over months and months performing activities that requires skill, role alignment and considerable governance.  It is equally surprising that they have no idea they are doing it.  But this is the next generation of employees, and they do have skills if they can be translated from a fictional activity to a real workplace one.

systematicHR Avatar

8 responses to “Lessons Learned From Gaming”

  1. Steve Hearsum Avatar

    Good post, and a agree with your advice on how to build collaborative project teams. The one strand that I would add to this concerns motive. Namely, if you can identify why the agents in the putative collaborative system might want to engage with each other in the first place, and, more importantly, what will galvanize them to communicate robustly and honestly in service of the shared goal, then you are on to something. If motive remains hidden, or is assumed, that is the start (potentially) of breakdown…

  2. […] Systematic HR […]

  3. Jacob Avatar

    “SystematicHR has an interesting blog about Lessons Learned From Gaming – to bad he didn’t use EVE Online. I have met quite a few corporate CEO’s and Fleet Commanders in EVE who demonstrate sound knowledge of management and are capable leaders – qualities that are in short supply in many companies.

    Since my favorite blog author is using PRINCE2 terminology, i’ll not comment any further on a good blog that could have been great.”

  4. systematicHR Avatar

    Jacob: Not at all sure what you are referring to with PRINCE2 technology in the context of your comment. I’m also not sure what Eve Online has to do with anything – I’m stating that gaming seems to build some leadership characteristics and I don’t think it’s limited to a particular game.

    Not deleted since you didn’t link so I’m assuming it’s not spam.

  5. […] Learned from New Eden just stumbled over an interesting blog about Lessons Learned From Gaming by "Dubs" aka SystematicHR – too bad he didn't use EVE Online. I have met quite a […]

  6. Jacob Avatar

    Hi Dubs – it was not a good choice of words on my behalf. I really liked the blog, so I have quoted it and commented on it in my blog using the MMO game I referred to above as an example.

    The PRINCE2 terminology I referred to is the “Lessons Learned Log/Report”


  7. […] Learned from New Eden Just stumbled over an interesting blog about Lessons Learned From Gaming by "Dubs" aka SystematicHR. Quote: "It amazes me how a group of 20-somethings can plan and […]

  8. KP Avatar

    Dubs, I removed my old blog last year, so the links above are dead. I have reposted it and shared it with the EVE Online community via Twitter.