game, game. repeat.

BAAD and Games At Work

Fri 07 November 2003

Just came across an article about how games may improve productivity at work. It reminded me of my consulting team at QuickStart. I dubbed my team BAAD (Bay Area Applications Development) and games were allowed in the office. Heck, half the time I was on AWP duty.

My team handled the applications development for QuickStarts consulting practice in Northern California and I was blessed with a team of outstanding consultants. Not only could they program–they were communicators who worked well with our customers. While our job was about non-game as you get (writing accounting software, project management software, and walking clients through needs analysis) the office gameplay was a tremendous boon to team cohesiveness and morale. We all still talk about how much fun it was.

I think there is something that needs to be said for treating people like human beings instead of ‘resources.’ I see so many companies these days that monitor their employees email, filter out websites like Hotmail, and otherwise treat their employees with distrust. I cant help but think how counterproductive it is. What kind of work environment does that create?

I can tell you from first hand experience that the easiest path to a motivated team is to provide a positive environment that treats each of them as an individual who is worthy of respect and the support of the larger company community. If youve got their back, they will have yours, its that simple.

This article also reminds me of how we are stuck in the mentality that hours in the office = productivity. Its a common fallacy in most industries–manager that manage by visibility in the office rather than actual output. Its certainly easier to just assume that if someone is there from 9-6 that they are getting more done than someone who is there from 9-4, but that management strategy has a lot of limitations (and it doesn’t tend to be very accurate–one person can have a much different hourly output than another). I’ve managed distributed teams of developers where managing by hours was not an option. Instead, I had to understand the tasks and the people so I could measure their performance against milestones rather than ‘hours spent.’ The upshot of all this was they got incredible flexibility (want to take Tuesday off?…ok, just as long as the task is done on time) and if they were more efficient that the average guy, we both got the benefit–it was done sooner and they had some free time to spend however they wanted. I admit its one of the hardest ways to manage people, until you get your data driven process down. Then in becomes one of the most pleasant ways to manage that I’ve ever come across.

I expect I wont get a chance to try anything like this out in the game industry for the first couple years, but I’m very curious to see how management styles work in the game industry vs. the several models I’ve seen in biz software.

Updated on October 6th, 2013

Some of the links were broken. I replaced them with working links to pages with the same or similar content as before.