Comfort Zones

In case, if you haven’t really been following my blog, I generally tend to write about tech, games, some personal thoughts, some thoughts about my work at 13 Llama and some analytics.

What I do not write about is Design … be it any design. Systems design, Visual Design, Brand Design … even solutions design. I know for certain that I have a certain unhealthy fear for engaging with design. So much so that it has now become a mental barrier in my head. Staying away from creativity isn’t necessarily bad, since we do a lot of analytical and logical work. Having said that, breaking down problems into smaller byte sized tasks is now a child’s play and there has become a comfort zone. So much so, that over the past few months I had started to think that we should focus on driving more business in these areas.

What does one do when one doesn’t have an option?

Of late though, some of the mandates we have been getting involved us having to work with and also having to define the design specifications. Some of our new team members were pretty gung-ho about working on design specifications instead of a pure play numbers game.

To add to that, at pretty much the same time, we had a couple of our main clients request that we get involved at a higher level and help guide the marketing briefs.

We could have chosen to keep focused on the analytics niche and not step up to the mantle. However, we decided to step out of our comfort zone and things have been taking an interesting turn.

Stepping out of comfort zones

This often involves stepping into a chaotic situation, spending some time taking stock and then working on multiple fronts and more often than not in an iterative manner. From an engagement point of view, it takes a special sort of client to work with. An organization which understands that is an organization that is also in a sense working out of its comfort zone.

This also means that the team which is actively engaged in stepping out of its comfort zone is very very focused on the purpose at hand.

Instead of worrying about things such as appraisals, office times, leaves and petty office politics, the team is then focused on doing what it takes to get the job done. The line of comfort just disappears and shit gets done.

Organizations and comfort zones

For a lot of organizations, functional teams end up becoming comfort zones. An example of this is when there are functional silos in a firm and cross functional exchanges do not happen as smoothly as expected. This is when both the functions engaging are not stepping out of their zone of comfort. Unfortunately, we have all experienced the adverse effects when customer facing teams do not step out of their comfort zone.

This severely impacts their ability and sometimes even the intent to engage. Symptoms of this condition are cases where the customer facing teams cite company policies, or often play the victim, or end up misinforming or lying to the customer. This builds a trust deficit within and with-out the system.

What can organizations do?

Foster a culture of experimentation and over delivering value. Sometimes force teams to work outside the zone of comfort. Align teams to the grandiose scheme of things and how their mundane job is in fact a purpose centric activity and not a functional silo.

As a concluding note, assuming people are willing to often step out of their comfort zones is such a positive mindset that the rewards of the mindset alone are worth the efforts of stretching one’s boundaries. Over the past few months, I have seen my fledgling team work outside their comfort zones, get over their initial mental barriers and come out for the better. The decision to step out of my own comfort zones has been definitely worth it!

 

Good job with Battle.net Blizzard!

 

Good Launchers

I am a huge fan of Blizzard. In fact I have pretty much played everything that they have released … right from Blackthorne (a 2D Scroller) to Warcraft Series. World of Warcraft is one of the games where I have paid more than 1000 USD to the company before I realized it was eating away into my life. One of the main features of the Blizzard games is the custom launcher which will download the game and set it up for you … the launchers that Blizzard makes are fairly awesome and aspiring game design firms should learn from them … this taunt is remarkably true for the TESO MMO and the Star Wars MMO. I believe RIFT is the only game which has done a better job with the launcher, the rest are languishing far behind.

Security Paranoia

The only complaint I had with the Battle.net system was the ridiculous account security and password rules. Everytime you have to play the game, you have to keep the password in mind … it studies your account usage and even emails you when it detects an off pattern. All this pretty much ensures that when you are playing hookey at work (who does’nt) and sitting at home and playing a raid on WoW, it will ask you to reset your password! Not to mention the requirement to enter your password everytime you want to play.

However, with the new Battle.net client, this has stopped!

The new Battle.net Client

This week I installed the new client because I wanted to give Diablo III and the latest patch a whirl. I had heard too many good things about the new Loot 2.0 system to not do this!! More on Loot 2.0 later.

The new Battle.net Client has integrated all the games in one client (quite like Steam or Origin) and has also made account security a part of this software. So when I save my login, I do not have to enter my security credentials all over again. This is awesome … no more getting stuck on login screen trying to cook up new “strong” passwords.

Configurable Downloads

The cool part about this client is that you can also choose to install the games on different drives of your computer. So no more worrying about your drive filling up and not being able to download the latest update.

Up until this week, I had pretty much given up on wanting to play any more Blizzard games. Especially with Valve releasing a slew of DOTA2 updates and Grinding Gear Games showcasing their Sacrifice of the Vaal expansion, it meant lesser time to play other games. However, the D3 team has something going here … the new Battle.net Client looks to be just the start!