Work or Play?: Appirians Learn the Basics One Turn at a Time

July 6, 2018 Hope Williams

I’ve always been a bit of board game nerd. It stems back to my childhood where “Life” was my game of choice (the irony of wanting to adult). I never lost that itch to play board games, and I can be very determined toward my friends and family when it comes to a game night. 

My favorites always change as I play new games. Currently my go-to’s are “The Resistance” (FYI, if you think you know people, wait until you see how they betray you in this game), and “What Do You Meme” (not recommended to play with family members). 

The other game I’ve been playing recently is one you may not have heard of: Appirio@Play.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever felt “Death by Powerpoint.” It’s a current epidemic in our professional world. Symptoms include: Glazed eyes, a slight buzzing in the brain, and insurmountable joy every time you hear, “Watch this video.”

During my onboarding experience at Appirio, it came time for me to learn our consulting methodology, the Appirio Way. I prepared to take diligent notes and consume a higher level of caffeine. 

What I found, though, was a different experience all together. 

I did sit through a short Powerpoint, but then —  of all things — a board game appeared and the years of honing my board game skills came in handy. 

Appirio@Play is a simulation of a real project at Appirio. Instead of lecturing about each phase in the Appirio Way, we simulate the project life cycle through a board game. The game involves the five phases of a project life cycle and has four different roles the participants can be: The Project Manager, The Account Director, The Business Analyst Lead, or The Tech Lead. 

It’s a cooperative board game meaning that everyone has a part to play in order to win. Everyone has to work together in order to accomplish your goal —just like a real, Appirian project. 

To win Appirio@Play, you need to complete your project on time, on budget, and with the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS). 

The game uses the five Appirio Way phases: Plan, Architect, Build, Test, and Deploy & Thrive. Throughout the five phases, there is an ongoing emphasis on strategy.  

  • You start the game by walking through the Plan phase to set up your initial project strategy. 
  • Next, you move onto the Architect phase, where you make decisions with feedback from the customer. 
  • The majority of the time is spent in sprints, which are comprised of a Build phase and a Test phase. Sprints are a time-boxed period of work. During the Build phase, you make decisions about how to deploy your resources to get tasks accomplished. 
  • During the Test phase you get to see how those decisions play out. As you continue to go through each sprint alternating Build and Test phases, you work to complete stories, remove obstacles, build assets, and complete epics. 

That’s a lot of terms, so I’ll quickly break it down. Stories are short expressions of functionality - the who, what, where of the business problem you’re trying to solve. Assets are reusable widgets that we can use on future projects, making us more efficient. An epic is a collection of stories. See why it might take a few hours to play? 

But be careful! If you push your team too hard, you may exhaust your resources. 

I’ve played the game several times now, and have taught others to play. Frankly, the game can be a bit challenging. You have to rely on your teammates, agree on a strategy, and execute it. All things we know from work that can be...challenging. 

It’s fun to watch Appirians from all different roles, backgrounds, and specialties band together and buckle down. Fair warning, it is hard to get a high NPS score, and I often watch first timers roll in with one that is relatively low. Therefore my coaching skills might be questionable. However, it just shows how difficult it is to deliver to an exceptional experience to customers while balancing your resources. Just like with years of experience, the more you play, the more you learn, and the better you are. 
 
What I love most about playing board games at work (besides getting to do it) is that it reminds me to rethink the way we do things. Death by Powerpoint? Why not try investing in a custom board game that helps instill the concepts while incorporating fun? 

If you want to join the movement, spread the hashtag #Appirio@Play2k18HolidaySzn so we can get this game on the market in time for the holidays. Want to see a cute Nickelodeon-esque style game overview? Watch the video below. Also, if you are curious about how else Appirio works to create a strong Worker Experience, check out our blog

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