Pokemon: Go or No Go?

Sunday August 14, 2016 comments

Pokémon: Go or No Go?


Boy that’s been a quickly developing phenomenon! It’s estimated that over 1 billion installs of Pokémon Go have occurred… as of August 1. It’s estimated that it has generated $250 million in revenue, and is projected to hit $1 billion. Not too shabby for a game that’s been out about a month. That’s a lot of downloads. That’s a lot of data usage. That’s a lot of people chasing Pokémon.

It can also be a lot of people doing so while at work. In a recent survey of about 110 thousand employees conducted by Forbes, 32% said they played 1 hour per day at work. Another 12% admitted playing 30-60 minutes a day at work. That’s a lot of impact on the workplace and productivity. Not to worry, as the survey also showed that:

  • 23% of bosses don’t care;
  • 15% of bosses play too and that they’re bonded with their employees;
  • 41% have bonded with coworkers over Pokémon Go while at work;
  • 3% have bonded with clients over Pokémon Go while at work;
  • 71% play Pokémon Go on lunch breaks (31% with other employees);

See http://www.forbes.com/sites/curtissilver/2016/07/09/pokemon-go-outside-and-play/#235b815c4f0e for more details. Remember when our big concern was people getting personal phone calls during work? Now we have augmented reality! But it’s not all bad. Or at least it doesn't have to be.

The conventional wisdom way of reacting would be to pass yet another policy prohibiting people from doing yet another non-productive thing during work hours. The problem with this is that there’s something about human nature that finds a way to get an unintended consequence from well-intentioned rules and policies. If you pass a new policy that forbids playing Pokémon Go while at work, some who never would have thought of doing it, might now think about it. And you risk continuing to create a workforce more dependent on policies, while not helping people make decisions that actually increase productivity. When that happens, productivity suffers more than it would have from Pokémon Go in the first place.

You absolutely have to be concerned about productivity. You absolutely want everyone on your team being concerned about productivity. You absolutely need to have solutions that work within your culture so that people will totally get your focus on productivity and buy into that. It works way more effectively than another policy.

So why not turn it on its head? Why not use this phenomenon as the impetus to improve productivity without throwing another policy at employees who will never read it? Here are 7 ways:

  1. Work Group Teambuilding. Let a department or team work together to see how well they can do using the very thing that could be a productivity drain – Pokémon Go. In other words, embrace it! Use the bonded concept to create a stronger team. Add some structure – you know… rules like any other game would have. Set specific times – lunch time, for instance - and make it into your own game. If you don’t like Pokémon Go (I don’t), create your own game to get at the underlying things that are making it popular – interaction, competition, bonding, and fun - with or without technology. It doesn’t have to be augmented reality.
  2. Cross-Functional Teambuilding. Structure a Pokémon Go competition into teams that are a mix of departments, getting people who don’t typically work together, to play together. Use the bonding concept of Pokémon Go to your advantage. Add some competition to the game rules and create partnerships that wouldn’t have existed. This kind of play spills over into work.
  3. Reinforce Broad Policies. You should already have policies in place related to downloads onto company-owned computers and devices related to copyrights and license to use. Use Pokémon Go as a way to remind everyone of those policies. You’ve got a great current example in Pokémon Go which will make the policy easier to understand. Let your examples be specific and your policies be general.
  4. Create a Productivity Team. You don’t have to mention Pokémon Go. Create a productivity team, educate them on why productivity matters, and solicit their thoughts on how to increase productivity, raise awareness, and get efficiencies. Give them credit for focusing everyone on productivity. If your informal leaders are part of this process, they will own it and others will buy in. They will uncover waste from the trenches that you would never find from above.
  5. Create Productivity Awards. Give it a name that fits your culture, language, and vibe. I have clients that could probably call such an award, “Gets Crap Done Award,” though they wouldn’t use the word “crap.” I have others that could call such an award, “The Game Changer Award,” or “The Bottom Line Award.” Allow peers to nominate peers. Those playing a lot of Pokémon Go won’t get nominated.
  6. Create Gainsharing or Profit Sharing. Either way, you can structure an incentive program for employees that will introduce peer pressure to eliminate wasted time, reduce expenses, and increase profits. And you can create a plan that funds itself. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. Harness it this way and it lifts a higher standard than you ever could by a policy.
  7. Address Deficient Productivity. The issue isn’t Pokémon Go. Devoting work time to Pokémon Go is a symptom, a behavior, or a value that may not be in sync with yours. Talk about the underlying issue rather than just the current manifestation of it. There is a job to be done, and each member of the team has to pull their own weight. When someone isn’t, address it!

In the grand scheme of things, Pokémon Go is just the first game using Augmented Reality that has caught on this well. There will be more. Lots more. They each will have a limited shelf life. And then there will be the next thing beyond Augmented Reality that we haven’t thought of yet. There will always be new things that could impact productivity. Find a way to harness those rather than letting them erode productivity.

If you have to pass or revise policies every time technology creates a new productivity drain, you will be so busy that it will reduce your productivity. And you’ll be continually in a Band-Aid mode rather than a preventive mode. That doesn’t really fix the problem, it just covers it up.



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