Here’s a thing; I keep wondering if this project will resolve itself in a game.
The approach is certainly playful, but will it be a game? I’m trying not to prejudge it, and be open to all possibilities. But I keep looking at it, and it seems like it might turn out to be a game, one that folk might use to determine the right thing for businesses to do.
What’s the difference between ‘games’ and ‘play’?
This article by Bo Kampmann Walther (which I’ve just found today) offers up a definition I like:
“Play is an open-ended territory in which make-believe and world-building are crucial factors.
Games are confined areas that challenge the interpretation and optimizing of rules and tactics – not to mention time and space.”
I have some good friends who are much (much, MUCH) better versed in this world than I, and I haven’t read ALL of that article yet, so I’m neatly going to park this deeper question, and most of the implications for the project, save for one; What is Winning?
Winning seems very important for companies. There are lots of different ways in which they talk about ways to win. Sales. Share Price. Fame of Leadership team. Units shipped. Number of Employees. Number of Customers. Size of Offices. Quality of the corner offices. Value of Modern Art in the foyer. And so on.
They all sit on the Matrix, though, all these different win conditions. So let’s look at that again.
The latest versions of PEOPLE and SPACE are as follows:
CULTURE – The work of all people. It’s really slow-moving, the sum total of everyone’s relationships with everyone else.
LEADERSHIP – Those we look to. Now, this is not a small group of people. It is the people we look to within a large group of people, be they formal or informal leaders.
CUSTOMERS – Who we do this for. No customers, no business. How much ‘surface area’ a company has when it comes to customer contact is an interesting way to look at this.
COMMERCE – What makes this sustainable. The quarterly motions that allow us to keep doing this for customers.
ACTIONS – The way we work together. In teams, in ones and twos, informally in canteens. In hours, minutes and seconds. The granularity of how we roll.
(I’ve noticed that it’s interesting, perhaps useful, to think of the faster stuff as happening between fewer and fewer people, and the slower stuff being ‘everybody’)
SURROUNDINGS – Life outside of our walls. Are we in an industrial estate in Slough? A distillery in the Highlands? A co-working space in Shoreditch? What else is here?
STRUCTURE – Where our work calls home. The building itself. The entrance, the approach, the way in nestles into the street when you look at it.
INFRASTRUCTURE – The OS of the Office. I’ve borrowed this from Simon Jordan of Jump Studios, who has a compelling metaphor for this… I’ll go and talk to him as part of the project.
SERVICES – The things we pipe in. Both hard and soft services; utilities, technology services, agencies to help, charities to volunteer for.
MATERIALS – The bits we get our hands on. The physical and conceptual objects between us; cards and computers, PowerPoint documents and proposals.
The reason I’m wondering about the game thing is as follows.
As you lay both the PEOPLE and SPACE layers, it begins to look like a game board.
With PEOPLE down the side, and SPACE along the top, the things in the middle of the Matrix become the WORK. And the work is the game. What more do I know about ‘the work’ today?
Ian Mitchell in a comment on a previous post suggested that the diagonal line through the middle, where slow powers slow and fast powers fast, is a ‘line of least resistance’, which I like a lot. Perhaps the game is how you deviate from that line to get better solutions for your problems?
I’ve started going through all previous Smithery Projects, as outlined in 3.09, to draw out the right sort of strategic questions that I’ve asked previously (or should have asked, in hindsight) to make a pile of cards to start stacking up against the rows and columns of the Matrix.
That’s going slower than I’d like, but is proving really worthwhile; it provides lots of test cases to shift around the Matrix and ask ‘what if…’
Let’s go back to that question though to finish off today’s entry; What is Winning?
If this were Monopoly, or Risk, or any of the great map board games, there would be various ways to win, but one clear way that makes you the clear champion.
So I wonder if that’s the top left square; is winning about having the best possible CULTURE in the most amazing SURROUNDINGS?
If you make it to the top left, is it a sign that over the short, medium and long-term, and for whichever measure you wish to look at, you’re winning?
And if so, can you set your own versions of ‘winning’ like this over various different time spans? What does winning look like in three years versus thirty?
I’ll leave you to think about that for a bit. As always, all comments, builds and complaints most welcome.
ACTION 11: THINK ABOUT WHAT WINNING MEANS FOR YOU.