Creating games made us think about how we operate a lean start up. We know a lot about how to make a good game, so why not turn our every day thinking and operating of the business to be like, well, playing a game with real rewards. So we got to work on looking at gameplay mechanics and all that good stuff and how we can apply it to the every day running of the business.....
Firstly we don't talk about money. This is crazy, you may say! Of course we operate with a good accounting system and we know the status of the business but money is not used as an incentive. Money triggers the primitive areas of our brain. Just like food. When we think about money 2 things can happen 1) we focus so much on having it we completely miss what we have to do to actually get it and 2) it makes us silly, we can do silly things and our perception of the tasks at hand and the goals, are blurry. Both of these are bad for the business and will prevent winning the ultimate goal.
It's important the team have the long term vision, not the short term quick fix, and for this we need committed dedicated people who are there through good and bad times. So to avoid this lethal over use of the 'M' word, we create a scoring system to place cash in a game mechanic. We view funds as a scoring system. We earn funds via client projects similar to gaining points. We know what we must do to take the business to the next level, and making this leap we level up. Having a team of avid gamers, we are all focussed on that ultimate goal, and sharing the vision.
Legal and contracting can also be viewed as a game mechanic. Within a game a player does what they can to protect their position from a multitude of things that can go wrong. In business we have lawyers to assist us with this. Game players need to receive feedback in the game to understand how well they are doing or what they need to change to improve. In business we need to give the team feedback so we can all become better in our roles. If playing an MMO you may have to find a mentor to guide you and advise you in the game. In business we have mentors, coaches, advisory boards and other people who have been there before, who have the experience they can impart on you to help you succeed.
Working in this way allows us to be super resourceful, efficient and motivated, operating our lean start up in fun, fast and manageable way.
Our current game play status is level 1, we are raising investment to take us to level 2. Level 2 takes us to growth and taking our product to Market and making it scalable. Level 1 has been getting the right people in place, doing research, iterating designs and business models and testing the idea in the Market. It's time to launch into level 2 and onwards to level 3, 4, 5............to final goal, exit!
For more info on running a lean start up my favourite sites are Eric Ries's www.startuplessonslearned.com and Steve Blank's www.steveblank.com and I also love Dave McLures www.500startups.com
Do you have a lean start up you want to shout about? Go to to find out for about a very cool competition with amazing prizes........http://appsumo.com/leanchallenge/
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