Sunday, November 25, 2012

Responsiveness is Better than Perfection

The last few years this mantra has come to be a signature one in my working with individuals and teams. Many of us are groomed to achieve perfection, and many of us have made good lives for ourselves striving for this illusion. The illusion is fine, I suppose, if you can do so productively. What I see though, is that most do not chase this illusion too productively. Or maybe a better way of saying it is that most could be more productive if the toxic energy of self-condemnation resulting from a lack of perfection, were converted to the energy of self-encouragement, compassion and persistence resulting from a spirit of responsiveness. 

I see responsiveness as a good alternative to perfection for a few reasons:

1) Its Achievable as responsiveness to ever changing requirements, environments and situations is achievable whereas perfection is not and especially given its subjective nature.

2) Its Adaptive as responsiveness does not presume the achievement of perfection but instead continually adapts to new requirements of change to achieve the best productive goal from moment to moment. 

3) Its Positive as responsiveness consistently sets up an open, alert, hopeful, generally positive outlook regarding the next steps. This is energy is light, fluid, fun, more prone to hatching the next creative solution versus the relatively heavier, condemnatory, often stagnant and guilty energy that comes with an expectation of perfection.

Now for those of us who are addicted to the requirement of perfection, take a read at my WiseWorking post, "The Perfect is The Enemy of the Good". I think it important that we understand that giving up perfection does not mean that we cannot be excellent. I even submit that we can be more excellent if we strive for less perfection, and truth be told, the world does excellently  with more excellence than with any perfection.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Workshop Slides: Social Media for Professional Use

Here is a link to slides from a workshop, "Social Media for Professional Use", I developed and delivered recently. I developed this workshop for those who avoid social media because they only think of it as a personal hazard and waste of time and fail to use it for all the benefits it can bring to their careers and education.

Enjoy and I hope this is helpful to you. I am interested in your thoughts on this topic and please do share with friends and colleagues.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Silent Retreats: Taking a vacation to your Self


Imagine committing yourself to 3 days, or even 1 for that matter, where you exist in silence. 

You do not speak. (You might even hang a sign around your neck like I do noting you are "observing silence".) 

You do not check the media

You restrict your sensory input to things natural and developmental at the spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical, self-relational and non-commercial levels of life. 

You restrict your activities to sitting, meditating, walking (preferably in nature), contemplating, exercise and reading or listening of a spiritually self-developmental nature. 

This is my own version of a silent retreat and I do them at a retreat center or at home.

On a whim I did a 2.5 day silent retreat at Pendle Hill, the Quaker Retreat Center in Swarthmore, PA, USA last year and to great benefit. I am doing another this year as part of my late summer vacation. 

Contemplating these retreats are painful (for my ego) owing to the privation of my regular ego-sustaining activities related to work, social relations, the media, etc.. That said, my soul loves them as its normally neglected “Small Voice” gets to be center stage for a while. I call these retreats "vacations to my Self" because they induce, after about a day of ego craving (akin to going cold turkey), a certain monastic state where I feel myself going “internal”, “dropping down”, re-attuning (some would say re-atoning, or re-at-One-ing, get it!) and reconnecting with my self and my Self. In this space, I experience healing (from the cuts and bruises of being in the world), connection (to the Essential Wisdom that it takes to be better when I reenter the world) and rest (that I so need and have neglected on a daily basis when I was in the world).

All during this time, the ego fights to assert itself telling me that the world may end if I come away from the news, email, the internet, conversations with family, friends and colleagues, etc.. I am amazed at the degree I believe this and I admit, as I am human, that I do let those most important to me know I am reachable once a day via SMS and I do check once for about 5 minutes in the evenings. And yes, I set a timer to assure its only 5 minutes. :-) 
One must remember that the Sabbath is for me, not me for the Sabbath. That allowed, those who know me know that I should have dropped dead from being away from my internet connection and SMS the 23 hours and 55 minutes between those checks but alas I survive, even thrive, after a day or so. I can tell you that one of the great benefits of such a retreat is reconnecting to the premise that while the world may want me, it does not need me. This humbling premise is good for health and perspective.

I intend to continue to engage these retreats multiple times a year and for greater lengths of time over time. I recommend them and would love to chat about your own intention and experience in this area if you care to share. You know where to reach me at

PS - Here is my delicious book mark list on this topic if you want to read more:

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mini Book Clubs: Subject Matter Expert Speed Dating?!

I recently experienced an efficient and productive encounter at the request of a good colleague, Madelyn Blair of Pelerei. On a periodic basis she summons 3 colleagues to a half hour-ish book club where we each take 5 minutes to discuss the key takeaways of a book we've recently read and then the group spends 5 minutes asking a few questions and engaging in a mini discussion about the book discussed. The books are typically related to a topic relevant to the group like say storytelling, knowledge management or creativity. 

At first I thought this format wouldn't be useful due to its brevity but I have to say I found it refreshing in its brevity. We got on the teleconference, got to it with little rambling, pontificating or editorializing (which can be the drawback of longer book club formats), made our points, asked our questions, received our benefit and bid ourselves adieu until next time. It was also a great way to meet new interesteds in disciplinary areas of interest and without consuming too much time. It struck me as a form of speed dating with subject matter experts. ☺

This mini book club approach is quite interesting and I look forward to doing this regularly and encourage you to explore the same for yourselves. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

4 Insights for Success: Miami International University Commencement Address 2012

Miami International University of Art & Design Commencement Address given by Craig DeLarge at the James L. Knight Center, Hyatt Regency, Downtown Miami, Miami, FL, June 13, 2012

Greetings administrators, professors, parents, and more importantly graduates of the Miami International University (MIU) Class of 2012. 

I am so honored to address you this momentous day when we celebrate not only the completion of your requirements for your respective degree, whether it be an Associate degree, Bachelor degree or Masters degree, but also the commencement, or beginning, as the word denotes, of your contribution to the society and the world, as creatives, artists, designers, innovators, managers, and leaders. 

I am also honored to be here at MIU as it is so exciting to see the work you are all doing here, on one hand, to advance both the theory and practice of the creative arts, and on another to set a new accredited standard in this region for practical creative education and practice. 

I also salute those to have supported these students to this point in their careers be they parents, other family members or friends for truly this achievement of your loved one is yours also as this achievement is a return on your investment of love, encouragement, time and money also. 

I want to now share a few insights with you I know to be true, at least based on my experience and what I have seen of the experience of others in my life, professionally and otherwise to help you on your way. I also understand that your President Fleming shared similar advice at your New Student Orientation and it seemed to have worked to get you here so a reminder will allow you to begin the rest of your career as successfully as you are ending this time at MIU. 

They are to: 1) patiently & persistently follow your bliss, 2) engage your life and career with a sense of Passionate Detachment, 3) live your your life’s Mission, and 4) remember that while you can make it, you cannot make it alone, you must be part of a Community to succeed.

1. Now for the first point. Patiently & Persisently follow your bliss. Joseph Campbell, the great authority on myth and story, who teach about the importance of seeing our lives as The Hero’s Journey, implores us all to “Follow Our Bliss”.

I especially admire all you who have completed this course of study as one who started college as a design major and then switched for fear that I would not be good enough. It so heartens me to see the courage in you that I did not find in myself for in this you are already following your bliss. I also again applaud you family members and friends who are supporting your loved one in their bliss as more of us can take a lesson from you.
Leaving this place and going forward into your respective careers, I encourage this class to use the patience, persistence and courage you have exhibited so far as a continued lever to carry yourself forward into a blissful career and vocation as creatives. Patiently persist to sharpen your skill, experience, reputation and community.  

Remember that patience gets all things done, and persistence wins. Expect challenge and opposition and use them as weights that build the muscle of character, spirit, knowledge, expertise and relationship. Resist the temptation to use them as excuses to become burdened, held up, embittered and demoralized. Even what you have achieved today, though you may have felt impatient and discouraged at times along the way, is the result of patient persistence as so many others have talked about doing what you have done but you have DONE it. Savor this knowing that as you have accomplished this you are capable of accomplishing many other things you want in your lives and careers.

2. The second point I want to share with you is that of engaging your life and career with a sense of Passionate Detachment. In his book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson talks about the practice of passionate detachment. In a nutshell, passionate detachment is an approach to life work, which focuses on “right execution” of process more than the outcome. In this “state of grace” we learn to enjoy the journey confident that the journey, pursued with the right spirit, will get us to the right destination, even when that destination is different than what we had originally envisioned.

I encourage you today to learn, if you have not already, to love the process, and trust the outcome. Life is such that one can hardly guarantee many outcomes no matter the effort invested, but one can guarantee the quality of attitude, focus, spirit and energy they bring to the process. In this fashion, whether they reach the originally desired outcome or not, they can say they have enjoyed the journey. 

3. The third point I want to share with you is that of living your life’s Mission. Richard Bolles, author of the job seeker & career changer’s bible, What Color Is Your Parachute, implores us to cultivate a mission in life which goes beyond just a job or a career plan, or the acquisition of material possessions and status. He suggests that key clues to one’s mission can be found in exploring one’s 1) talent of delight, 2) places & settings which appeal to them and 3) purposes, ways to improve the world, which resonate with them. You will be tempted and certainly have periods in your career where you lose your connection to mission, and may even have to remake your mission. This is to be expected. That being as it is, I beg you to seek reconnection for such reconnection is a high levee against the flood of despair, cynicism, discouragement and bitterness that you will see too much of in your work life. While this may be true of others, work to avoid it being true of you.

4. A fourth and final insight I want to share is related to that of Community for while you can make it you cannot make it alone. Contrary to the American myth of rugged individualism, there truly are no self-made successes, though I imagine there are many failures who attempted to be "self-made". Always remember that you are part of a rich and vibrant global community of creatives. This community started in the design environments and programs who experienced before MIU, then here in the classrooms and studios of MIU and now on to the agencies, consultancies, practices and companies where you will further sharpen your respective gifts and grow your legacy in the world. This community needs your fresh ideas, energy and perspective, even though they may not always be willing to admit it. This community is here to welcome and encourage your growth and contribution in it. Be willing and committed to being a part of this community as life-long learners and contributors, and eventually as leaders and mentors, for we are taken care of as we take care of one another.

So remember: 1) Patient Persistence, 2) Passionate Detachment, 3) Life’s Mission, and 4) Community. As you are true to these, they will be true to you.

You are blessed to be coming out of school into a global economy where design continues to be on the ascendancy and more important, available and valuable than ever. Design is capable of truly impacting the world’s intractable problems and ungrasped opportunities from poverty and hunger, to improved relations among people and peoples, to healthcare, to education, to spirituality, to increased productivity in our work and play. Design is solving these problems and capitalizing on these opportunities, and you are the latest generation of carriers and practitioners of this brilliant expertise. Do not forsake its power in your hands to shape and change the world on every level from idea, to belief, to feeling, to action. Take this responsibility seriously and carry it out faithfully. The world depends on it!

Thank you for your time and attention this afternoon. Congratulations again to you all! May you enjoy every challenge and success your life has for you, and may we all benefit from your contribution and gift in the world. 


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Every Annoyance, A Button & A Projection (And Every Pleasure also)

Recently, at Coaching School, I learned a powerful mind trick which  (figuratively) changed the color of the sky for me! The trick is around the idea of perceptual projections and taking responsibility. I will not explain this perfectly but let's give it a go. 

We all have our buttons. Our ways of believing, assuming and interpreting which cause us to be annoyed or pleased by things which happen in life. So much of life's angst and compulsion, whether over things we avoid for annoyance or pursue for pleasure, is exasperated by our lack of consciousness around how, when & why our buttons are pushed. With consciousness, we can reduce the dominance of our buttons so that we can recover more astutely, proact (versus react) more wisely and generally improve our quality of relationships (with ourselves and others), work and life. 

We all have our projections. Our life experiences, and habits of perceiving and thinking cause us to see what we are looking for rather than what is there. We get emails and hear emotions in words, that are not there. We see body language and jump to defensive conclusions about what people are meaning, thinking, feeling, which may not be true. Requests are made of us and we hear and see threats that on further reflection do not exist at the level of threat we originally perceived. Situations occur which are different than our plans and we assume malice in the forces of change which is often not really there. Pleasurable & satisfying experiences are experienced and we too mindlessly and habitually pursue them as comfort & soothing mechanisms when it might be better to address sources of our discomfort in more sustainable and productive ways. So much of life's angst and compulsion is fueled by our projections on situations and people, which if seen as projections (not necessarily reality) would free us to be more positive, resilient, energized and influential.

What I learned was that the vast majority (I am not ready to admit to all) of my annoyances (and pleasures) are my projections, and that because they are my own creations, I can take responsibility for what I create and how I respond to those creations. I can take responsibility rather than blaming, being angry with or annoyed by with others, or on the other hand, being co-dependent and addicted to the liking and approval of others. 

As I increase my "projection consciousness" and my willingness to take responsibility for them, the complexion of the world truly changes. I can then see that my annoyance at unreasonable requests is a projection of my fear of failure when put in a time or resource bind. I can see that my anger over others disagreeing with me, either in word or body language, is a projection of my insecurity over being liked and approved of. I can see that when someone does not keep their promise to me and I become aggressive and interrogative, this is a projection of my need for control and my tendency to distrust those things that threaten my sense of control. I can see that when I elect to socialize on FaceBook for an hour too long rather than work on my book manuscript, this is a projection of my desire for comfort against my fear of being rejected as an author. 

With these and myriad other "projection realizations", I overreact less, approach myself, others and situations with more composure and compassion, and engage more mindfully to enable more productive process and outcomes in every area of my life, as well as the lives of those I interact with. These realizations also challenge me to ponder what my projections say about me. They also call me to take responsibility for my being, believing, feeling, thinking and doing at an entirely higher level. I am convinced this is an essence of maturity.

I have to tell you that this has been such a magnificent breakthrough for me, but challenging also as taking responsibility for my own projections is so much more difficult than situational mindlessness or blaming others for pushing my buttons & projections. The fact is that no one or situation can push a button that is not available to be pushed. Another fact is that our projections, left in the field of unconsciousness, are ruthless masters that drive us in ways we know not but they can, with consciousness, be converted to productive servants. 

May we all increase our "projection consciousness" and reduce our "buttons" so we can be more productive and response-able in how we go about our work and lives. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

In Defense of Corporations

This post is inspired by a coaching conversation I had recently about the evil that corporations do and the potentially questionable ethics of carrying on a corporate career that could be seen as collusive with this evil. This is a worthy question, and one I have mulled over often in my more than 2 decades in global corporations. 

I am of the opinion that corporations, like hammers are neutral tools, capable of good and evil in the hands of good or ill-intentioned wielders. The fact is that most all corporations are simultaneously producing good and bad ends at least unintentionally, if not intentionally, and that can be said of most all things in the cosmos. This fact, conjured the thought that corporations need defending, on one hand against the assumptions that they are inherently evil, and on another hand against the evil they do when there are not enough powerful, influential well-intentioned players at the corporate decision-making table

Corporations have their merits & demerits. They have enabled more wealth creation, personal/professional development, etc., for a greater number of people (to wit, our middle class) to a greater degree than any force in history. They have also been behind some of the most devastating occurrences of human-inflicted harm to other humans and the environment seen in history. Because corporations have so much power to do good and evil, it is important that they have good people in and around them to defend them against the evil they might otherwise do.

For this reason I encourage those who have corporate expertise to stay in the game, both inside and adjacent the corporate as forms of light and salt to both keep clean and  preserve the cultures and intentions of corporations. I get that corporate life can be demoralizing, ethically ambiguous, unfair, unreasonable, confusing, etc., and that such triggers thoughts of escape for most of us. That said, if we can adopt an approach where we connect our corporate work to personal meaning and societal purpose, versus ego aggrandizement & lifestyle elevation, we can recommit to defending corporations and influence them to be a greater good, than evil, in the world

I have, for a number of years, deliberately worked to get more clear and deliberate about what industries, disciplines, situations, problems and purposes, I want to focus my energy on. I have targeted those corporations whose raison d'ĂȘtre, going beyond making profit, resonates with me. Working in those corporations are more satisfying as I know that my work in helping the corporation is helping achieve the purposes I want to see in myself and the world. 

This is not to say that corporations are perfect but to say that they are really good tools for positively touching the lives of lots of people when used in the proper way. I am blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to that as well as to be a change agent and influencer to keep it from as much evil as might result if I were not there. And, by the way, even when I leave the inside of the corporation, I intend to use my experience and influence to continue to develop ethical servant leaders who defend corporations from evil.

I encourage us all to choose our corporate defender role and play it well. Whether as inside manager, leader, contributor, influencer, innovator and change agent, or as outside consultant, influencer, stakeholder, accountability agent, or regulator-legislator. All these role are useful in defending corporations by balancing their power, maintaining their ethical agenda, and maximizing their ethically profitable performance. 

Effective defending to us all!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Love (Organizational) Politics! And you should too!

This blog post has relocated to a book, The WiseWorking Handbook. Please visit it there.  

Please purchase a copy at Balboa Press ( 

For signed copies, reach me at

Thanks in advance for reading the book and spreading the word about it.

Finally, please rate it at, and other websites where books are sold and reviewed. 

What readers are saying:

"The WiseWorking Handbook is written in a down to earth, engaging style.” - Bud Bulanich

"Get this book. Read it. Keep it handy for when you need a little inspiration or some solid advice on how to work wisely and increase your value at work.” - Bud Bulanich

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Professional Coaching Is Not?

Along with understanding what coaching is, as I wrote about in a prior post, it is just as critical to understand how coaching is unlike other helping modalities like mentoring, consulting, therapy, friendship, and even sports coaching. With this understanding, we can be sure to engage a coach to play the right role in our lives as well as to have the right expectations. Note that while coaching techniques can be utilized in any one of these roles, the role of a coach is formally distinct from each of these roles. 

Let me summarize.

1. Coaching is unlike mentoring & consulting in that coaches do not give advice from their past experience or current knowledge, but rather facilitate the client's advising themselves through various techniques of questioning, listening, affirmation and validation. A core assumption of coaching is that the client has their own answers and needs an en-courage-ing non-judgmental space within which to surface those answers. 

2. Coaching is unlike therapy in that coaches work with clients on achieving future optimal being, thinking and action, versus the healing of past wounds whose result are current emotional, psychological and relational imbalances. Professional coaches are not trained therapists though they are trained to identify situations where referral to therapy is appropriate.  Coaches may even work in tandem with a client and therapist in appropriate cases.  

3. Coaching is unlike friendship in that coaches are unencumbered with the agenda of being liked or accepted, but rather hold the client's agenda of having the result they want in their lives. This freedom allows the coach to be transparent in facilitating the client's planning, honest and credible in the client's affirmation, and unrelenting in holding the client accountable for execution.

4. Professional coaching is unlike sports coaching in that coaches focus on the creation of win/win scenarios and results in the client's life, while sports coaches, classically focus on win/lose outcomes, and for good reason. On a field of battle, one must win and render their opponent a lose, however on the field of life, one has the greater choice of rendering their stakeholder, even if an opponent, a winner also. This is the result that coaching looks  to facilitate to the degree the client is willing. 

As you can see, these are rather simple, but key, distinctions to be considered as you think about the role of a coach in your life and business.

If you want to talk more about this topic and how coaching might work for you, please reach to me at

Be well and blessed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Coaching: What Is It? What's In It For You?

I have been a practicing coach for a over a decade now, and recently, at the encouragement of many of you reading this, entered iPEC Coaching School to up my game and earn my professional certification, as I look forward to impacting the society and world to a greater degree via this calling for the rest of my life. It has been so interesting to me that for most of the time I have been coaching, in the past, I have not been coaching but rather mentoring and consulting. Sigh!

What I have learned is the distinction between coaching and other helping modalities, friendship, mentoring, consulting and therapy, all of which may contain elements of coaching but which are not purely coaching.

I have learned that a coach is someone retained to provide: 

1) a non-judgmental, non-advising space for listening to the wishes and plans of the client, 

2) affirmation & validation of the client's plans and progress in execution of those wishes & their corresponding plans, 

3) examination of barriers to the execution of the client's plans and 

4) accountability for continued forward movement in execution of the client's plans, and especially in times of discouragement, breakdown and internal & external resistance. 

As I have practiced this stricter coaching model, I have been continually gratified by clients' expression of this process' impact on their clarity of thinking, sense of affirmation, relaxation, hopefulness and commitment to having certain results in their lives and organizations. These effects on client-leaders result in influential change in themselves, and by extension, their families, teams, organizations, networks, and society, that the world needs badly. This is important for we are all damaged whenever any one of our potential is not realized, and I see coaching as discipline which can make significant impact in reducing this damage.

By the way, I am looking for leaders and leadership teams to work with, and especially those who are challenged with influencing and implementing significant change. You know where to reach me if you need me. In the meantime, whether with me or some other coach, I encourage you think about coaching to help you towards a greater degree of your own potential.

Be well and blessed! :-)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Is it a Prison or a Bridge? What are your Transferabilities?

So often in my coaching of others and my self, I come across the topic of how one views their past experience.

A typical response is that experience is a prison which traps one in an industry, role, network or familiar set of challenges & solutions. One deems that their reputation in one area disqualifies them from doing other things. While there is some truth to this, it is not as true as we too often think.
A better response I encourage, though I recognize its difficulty from personal experience, is to see our past experience as a bridge to every other type of service and opportunity we are inclined to pursue. This is easier said than done, but alas not impossible. Possibility is rooted in believing that your past experience is a bridge, and not a prison.

Here are a few bridges to contemplate:

1. Any experience develops a set of transferable skills useful in a variety of other scenarios outside your past experience. Inventorying your transferable skills  is critical and I advise you to not attempt this on your own but with other trusted colleagues as we all have blindspots and underestimations rgarding our skills.

2. Your past experience has cultivated a network of contacts (transferable relationships) who have contacts far afield of your current industry, role, etc. who can help you research, connect with, and bridge over to new possibilities for yourself. Strategic analysis and leveraging of your network is critical. People are typically more willing to assist us than we are willing to reach to them so I encourage this, and remember the value of the strength of weak ties.

3. Your past experience has exposed you to a number of industry and business scenarios (transferable experience & knowledge) which while “old hat” to you are new challenges to others who can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. Here is where research of developments in other industries, or other sectors of your current industry, is useful to enable you to ascertain where your experience can possibly add more value.

As I encourage my coachees to filter these transferabilities in their own pasts through the perspective of bridge, versus prison, it begins to open up new possibilities for what they might do with their backgrounds in different context. I think this mindset and skill is going to be more and more critical for all of us as we face a locally & globally competitive job & career environment which is asking us to be more nimble, flexible and creative about our prospect.

May you always have the eyes and ears to see and hear how your prisons are really bridges! Happy transferring!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Musings On The Paradox of Certainty

I like certainty but it bores me when its not making me feel secure. 

I like uncertainty because it excites me when its not scaring me and making me anxious. 

What of this paradox and the pendulum swing back and forth between its extremes?

Like so many things in life, how you perceive the extremes is more important than the extremes’ realities I suppose. The more we need certainty, the more we are its slave and lorded it over by its absence. The more we accept uncertainty, the less we are its slave, and more free we can be. Hmmm.

I continue to work at cultivating my comfort with the discomfort of uncertainty understanding that most perception of certainty lies in one's confidence that they can influence certainty for themselves more than in the idea that anyone is going to make things certain for them. It occurs to me that this is one of the hallmarks of maturity and true adulthood.

May we all attain to this, and on the way not overestimate the degree to which we have arrived, nor underestimate the distance we have come toward that arrival. May we all be certain in the face of uncertainty.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Every Worker, A Game Designer – Part 4 of Every Job, A Game

Dignan, in the book, Game Frame, that these posts have been based on, talks about the process for designing a game. They are:
1) choosing an activity, or mastery focus area
2) creating the player profiles, or motivational description of the players
3) choosing the interim and ultimate objectives of the game
4) choosing the mental, physical and social skills to be learned and improved in game play
5) choosing the resistance, balancing between boring & demoralizing
6) choosing the resources

7) defining the skill cycles, or the rounds in which actions are  taken and feedback obtained

8) choosing the interim and ultimate outcomes which provide feedback

9) play, test and polish to refine the game

Dignan cites David Cook of Spry Fox as proposing that “Any activity can be turned into a game: 1) if the activity can be learned, 2) if the player can be measured, and 3) if the play can be rewarded or punished in a timely fashion. You read this and immediately get the possibility that “all is a game” if you want to see it that way.

It occurred to me in looking at these design elements that much of this design has already been done for me in my job and organization, and that a game of sorts is to understand how it has and is being designed on an ongoing basis. Additionally, it occurred to me that there is an internal game which coincides with the external game of my work that I have the power to design and play to personal and organizational benefit. In fact, the more than my personal game can coincide and integrate with the organizational game, the more potential benefit there is for both of us. I might also find that these games are not integratable which is also an important signal to be acted upon.

Dignan says that “Achieving this requires examining the structure of our own activities and experiences in more depth than ever before. This process of observation and inquiry is the precursor to design. Indeed, to reshape the world around us—our workplace, our schools, our homes—we must become behavioral game designers.” In gaining confidence as a game designer, I recognize my role in creating good games not only for myself but for my team, my organization, my industry and my customers so that we collectively can heal the world.

May we all be better game designers and players ongoing. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Building Blocks of the Game Frame - Part 3 of Every Job, A Game

In my first post in this series I suggested that we, and our work, can benefit from cultivation of a more gameful approach to work. In this post, I want to expand on this approach and its implications.

In his book, Game Frame, Aaron Dignan, talks about the the Game Frame, the building blocks that make up any game. Game designer considers these and so should we as we redesign our work as a game.
These building blocks are:

1) activities, or mastery focus areas,

2) player profile, or trait-based player descriptions with motivational clues,

3) objectives, or short and long term goals towards which effort is directed,

4) skills, or special mental, physical & social abilities necessary to win a game,

5) resistance, or forces of opposition (chance, puzzles, novelty, levels & competition) which create tension and interest in any game,

6) resources, or spaces & supplies we acquire and use to win a game,

7) actions, or move available to us in a game,

8) feedback, the game’s response to a player’s actions,

9) the blackbox, or the rules engine containing information about interplay between actions and feedback in the game, and

10) outcomes, or positive & negative results occurring while in pursuit of game objective

At first, I found this list overwhelming, but on further meditation, realized that all this has been going on within and around me my entire life and I have been good at playing most every game I have found myself in. I had not been savvy enough to see it in the context of a game though. I further get that seeing all this as a game: 1) lowers my blood pressure & frustration level, 2) improves my focus & persistence and 3) allows me to win more of the games I create, and even those others create for me. (Remember my prior post on games we play: Win The Game You Are Playing, Even If You Lose The Game Others Are Playing.)

When I assume that all these elements are part of the game, I am less caught off guard and frustrated by them. I pay more attention to how I need to learn and adapt. I do so more quickly, thus creating a competitive advantage for my self and my team. Truly my work becomes a game and I an ever more skillful player. That said, PLAY ON!!!

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Gameful Mindset CanTransform Your Job - Part 2 of Every Job, A Game

Continuing my Work as Games riff, I was really struck in my reading of Dignan’s, Game Frame, by the characteristics which make games irresistible. Games:

1) demand participation, a thing we all know we want/need more of at work,

2) can be played again and again, without a loss of enthusiasm yet with increased learning,

3) are understood through play, not work, you hear that, not work,

4) can happen anywhere, and I don’t know about you but work happens everywhere for me,

5) give us purpose, and I find more and more of this in my work as I age,

6) allow us to solve problems, that thing I personally live for,

7) give us control, that thing I am trying to live less for but which I still enjoy having,

8) show us progress, especially needful in the “grind”,

9) prompt risk taking, that thing we need to get more comfortable with,

10) let us face our fears, that thing we need to face more and indulge less

11) give us glory, that thing we love, if not live for, and no you don’t have to admit it,

12) shift time, as in “time flies when you are having fun”,

13) bring us together, and what else is work if not “getting together” for better or worse,

14) facilitate transferable development, a too little recognized phenomenon, and

15) represent what could be, that think we are all interested in creating.

On reading this list in Game Frame, I immediately see how a “gameful” approach to work would be transformative for me. I figured, why only play games when I am off work when I could benefit from the enjoyment of such play most all the time, with just a twist of perspective. I think, YES, these are all things that I crave and work for, but if playing a game provides this inherently, what an incentive to play a game, and especially at work where I spend most of my life!