Game on: 7 keys to increase productivity

Game on: 7 keys to increase productivity

Game on: 7 keys to increase productivity


One of the biggest things missing in most organisations is a strong sense of ‘narrative’. This is how purpose is expressed beyond numbers. It’s the story of ‘why’ we do our work. Leading games do this well – there’s a narrative that players move through.

Leading companies also craft compelling narratives. Remember Apple’s ‘Think different’ campaign? The intended audience for this was actually internal. Steve Jobs had just taken over a demoralised company; he needed them to rediscover the purpose and pride in their work.


Game designers would call this play-testing, and anyone who has worked on agile projects would know that a lot of work is experimental, and developed through iteration. At a functional level, this works with short sprints; rather than cooking up a perfect plan, and then grinding through periods of stalled productivity and progress, we instead move through various ‘checkpoints’. If one particular approach is not working, we reset to the latest checkpoint and try another.

Games do this tremendously well, so much so that research suggests most gamers spend 70–90% of their time failing. But they’re able to fail fast, and learn from each attempt.

In our own work, we could learn from failure. Apathy is the enemy.

Or, if failure is a bit too heavy a word, think of it like this: in science there’s no such thing as failure, only disproven hypotheses. Persistence is noble and sometimes necessary. Progress is better. If something’s not working, try something else. It’s like Edison once said: “I’ve never failed. I’ve only found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

Dr Jason Fox is a motivation strategy and design expert, and an in-demand speaker and consultant. He is author of The Game Changer, a new book published by Wiley. Learn more at www.

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