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How To Get Better

As strange as it seems, IT and Business people have a LOT to learn from people who play videogames. Think about it for a moment, a lot of us hold up self-organizing, self-motivated teams as an ideal, and what is more self-organizing than a group of people who choose to work together with no management structure?

Today's lesson comes from an esport analyst and coach named Skyline, and it's about how to improve your game. The game is called Overwatch, and it is an FPS or First Person Shooter game which requires fast decision making and extremely fast, twitchy finger movements to properly move, target, and fire. (If you've never seen the game, watch just 30 seconds here )

Skyline recognizes that at some point players hit a wall and stop getting better. Traditional thinking says that the answer is to play more, focus more, work harder, and do more of the same. Skyline recommends the opposite.

Take A Break!

Wait, what? He says to STOP playing?

Yes, and there's more! If you pay attention, he recommends taking a specific break - one that lasts two weeks. And he doesn't say to completely stop playing games, but instead he says to do something different like playing a completely different style of game.

So you're probably thinking at this point that there has to be some sort of business or "agile" tie-in, right? Of course! Anyone who has looked at the Scaled Agile Framework knows that the Innovation and Planning (IP) Sprint is an essential part of the Framework. The IP sprint is a full sprint that is dedicated to doing innovation work and for planning the next Program Increment (PI). While it provides some contingency in case work takes longer than expected, no work is supposed to be planned for this sprint. (And to be clear, this sprint isn't set aside for doing "IT only" work because the Business gets the all of the other sprints. This sprint is dedicated to creative, truly innovative experimentation as Atlassian does on a regular basis.)

Well intended managers often consider the IP Sprint optional, but they do so at their own risk. Not only are they choosing to NOT improve their organization through innovative new thinking, but they're also not giving their people a chance to get better by temporarily changing focus.

The really important takeaway from this video is the intentional return. Notice his very specific instructions - return to the game and be very intentional about improving. This break and then intentional return to the game allows for the unlearning of moderately successful actions and the learning of more successful ones. And that return is best done with a coach to identify opportunities and hold everyone accountable for focusing on improvement.

So here's the question to IT and Business people - are you going to allow yourselves to be outdone by a bunch of gamers, or are you actually going to do what it takes to improve your own game?

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