Yes, I’ll admit it. I enjoy playing Pokemon GO.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game. Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game released in 2016. The game involves locating and catching ‘creatures’ (aka Pokemon). Once you catch them, then you use them in battles, etc. The game was awarded the Guinness World Record for most revenue generated by a mobile game and hundreds of millions of people play the game globally.
But, I’m not here to convince you to start playing Pokemon GO. My point with today’s post is to show that games can teach us business lessons. Even if they weren’t designed to. For example, here are seven business lessons I’m reminded of when playing Pokemon GO:
- You need to be a good individual contributor and team player. One of the things I like about Pokemon GO is that I can play the game when I’m traveling. But I also enjoy playing with Mr. Bartender. And the game has community days where I can meet new people who also enjoy playing. In our work roles, we have to be prepared to work independently, with small teams, and reach out to co-workers we don’t know very well.
- It’s important to learn more than one way of getting stuff done. To catch a Pokemon, you have to hit them with a ball. I think of it as virtual Skee-Ball. But There are three different types of balls. And four different types of treats you can give a Pokemon so they will stay still, so you have a better chance of catching them. You can also catch a Pokemon with a straight throw or a curveball. Just like in business, there are many ways to reach a goal.
- Managing resources well is the key to success. Speaking of how to catch a Pokemon, the last thing we want to do is spend a rare Ultra ball when a regular Pokeball will do. Or give a Pokemon a golden raspberry when a banana will suffice. Even if you don’t know what these things are…you get the idea. It’s important to use the right resource at the right time. It’s also important to have plenty of resources on hand.
- Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Every Pokemon has powers that you’ll eventually use in battle. It’s important to understand your opponent and choose the right Pokemon for battle. Same happens in business. Any time we’re faced with a challenge, we want to bring the right team. Not only will it help us achieve our goals, but it will help us allocate our resources properly (see #3).
- Know when to battle. And who to take with you. I just mentioned battles. In the game, we can visit Pokemon Gyms that are filled with Pokemon. We can assess the situation and decide if we have the resources to battle (and win). If the Pokemon are more powerful, we might not want to spend the resources. In business, we often assess situations and decide if the benefits of battling are worth the expenditure of resources.
- Use milestones to tackle big projects. One of the new features in Pokemon are quests. Players are given tasks to complete and after completing a series of tasks, we’re rewarded with a rare Pokemon. It reminds me of the value of breaking large projects into smaller pieces. We can accomplish one thing a day and before we know it, we’ve achieved a big goal. It also helps with keeping individuals motivated.
- Make investments so you can achieve your goals. While there are many things you can do for free in the game, there are times when buying some additional resources makes sense. Organizations have to regularly ask themselves, “Would investing in employee training help the business?” or “Should we add headcount?” or “Will a technology upgrade enhance productivity?” Free is nice, but sometimes we need more.
Games can entertain us as well as teach us lessons … if we let them. Think about the games you play. Are there some business lessons you can take away from them? It might be a fun work activity to play a classic board game then debrief with a “What business lessons can we take away from the activity?” Learning can be fun.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby somewhere in a mysterious corner of her office.10