Sunday, November 24, 2013

The boy and the gate

Some days ago, I rode into my apartment on my cycle. And there was a little boy who, looked at me coming in - his eyes lit up - and he ran to the gate to open the gate for me. I usually push open the gate open myself, but seeing his smile and excitement I let him open the gate for me. The security staff, were watching him and thankfully did not stop him from enjoying himself.

I thanked him and entered - and I showed him how muddy my cycle was and after a quick few words, he went off to play.

And I thought later, this is innocence at its best. A few years later, many things will stop the boy from expressing himself, like this. Someone may rebuke him for playing with the security guards or doing the securities job. And slowly, surely, we will make him like one of us.

And, we as adults, rarely open the gate of our complex, when we see a known face come in, even if we are centimeters away from the gate. We become conscious of status, of our so called reputations and of course, the classic 'It is not my job'.

My own little lesson there! Thank you, little boy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Clash of clans

The little one is now a fan of Clash of Clans.

Whatever the merit of the game - I like the way it is organized. And since gamification is the rage now, it made me think of a combination of gamification and 'social' as the means to achieve a goal.

Now if you 'gamify' and 'social' anything, does not mean it will work. But I think there are some thumb rules - purely based on what I see in Clash of Clans.

  • Degree of difficulty - it has to be 'so near, yet so far'. Anything too easy is not worth a challenge, anything too difficult may cause the kids to give up.
  • You play by yourself upto a point and just at that point of inflection where you may feel inclined to give up (because with stingy dads who wont buy you anything, it is a steep climb) there comes a breather and a new motivation -you get to join a clan and meet your friends online and play.
  • Small rewards along the way - not too easy and not too tough.
  • Even if you lose you dont lose everything - someone attacks, but you lose a little gold and elixir - not all of it, enough to demotivate you.
  • You can see what success looks like. You can see other clans and their villages and the way they are set up with fire breathing walls and dark elixir and it is very motivating to look at our own little hut and wooden wall - and thinking that we can get there.
  • Limited resources - so there is a constant cost -benefit thought going on in the head.
  • It has to be 'wow'. Just wrapping a few exams and assessments and making it 'gamified' and 'social' is a sureshot way to disaster.
  • Hidden treasures - every small actions and even small actions need a payoff. Just when you are about to give up, there is a small thing that you can do to get those motivation levels up.
 Anyway, I gotta go now. We have to get 40000 Gold to build that castle that will let us join a clan!

Team Huddles and Energy calls

Once upon a time the Indian cricket team was going through a crisis and if I remember right, this was around the 2003 World Cup - and they started getting into a huddle before every match.

In sport, a huddle is an action of a team gathering together, usually in a tight circle, to strategise, motivate or celebrate. It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information, and acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult. Commonly the leader of the huddle is the team captain and it is the captain who will try to inspire his fellow team members to achieve success. Similarly after an event a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the teams success, or to commiserate a defeat. The term "huddle" can be used as a verb as in "huddling up". (wikipedia)

This is recognized as a universal strategy. I have seen this in manufacturing industries as the morning prayer (I remember one of the mantras was Karagre Vasate Lakshmi - a beautiful shloka about the hands - so apt in a the factory where people work with their hands). Rugby teams do it, army units do it. Indeed, as it happens, even teams working in technology and BPO do it.

It has a great motivational effect. Coming together before the days work, deciding what needs to be done, understanding what needs to be done and so on and so forth. And perhaps I will segue that into a story on the importance of 'ritual' at some point, but that is for later.

A few months ago, as part of a stage play - we followed a ritual. We would recite, Angikam Bhuvanam (never realised that this was connected to dance). We called it the energy call. And it had an amazing energizing quality to it. People were energised and it directed us into a 'zone' of performance.

Various things happen in a huddle. Sometimes, it is sharing a thought. Sometimes, wishing someone. Sometimes, reiterating the goal. Sometimes, it is just a chant that gives energy!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The argument for better content

One of my favourite analogies to test how effective any material is the Airline safety placard and and the airline safety instructions. I ask people the last time they flew, did they really hear what the instructions were or did they just hear some noise. The thing is that most people dont.

Like google ads, they dont 'exist' because your mind is so attuned to it that those instructions just do not register. The attendants are doing their job -because it a regulation and you are there as a captive audience.

This is a great example of how many of our trainings are. The moment they come into a 'class' see the familiar settings, the familiar templates - thats it - it is a cue for the mind to switch off.

In both these examples, there are two arguments. One is that content need not be exciting, because it is their job/their responsibility whatever. The other is that the content can and should be different (if not exciting) because very often the mind needs to be tricked.

 And that is exactly what this video of Virgin America does. A 5 minte rap song on airline safety (Via @ghate) makes you sit up and take notice. Time for an item number on airline saftey on one of our local airlines?