Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"CAUTION" Learning Curves Ahead

When I was little and I would screw up (which was often), my mother would say to me, “Now Judy….what did we (meaning me) learn from this?”. I would scrunch up my face and wrinkle my nose (all indicators that I had my “thinking cap” on) and try to figure out the appropriate response. I sometimes came up with a good answer, but I also developed a deep wrinkle at the bridge of my nose.

I replayed this many, many times as I was growing up. Yup....I tended to screw up often.

Recently, I realized something. Why don’t we ever ask ourselves that question when we succeed at something? Of course, we learn a lot from failure, but we learn from success as well.

Last year, I was lucky enough to work on a project with Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability, MeetGreen (Shawna also has a great personal blog located here) and the team from QuickMobile. We collaborated to create an interactive mobile "Sustainability" game called Get Your Green On that was embedded into the Event Camp Vancouver mobile event application. 

It was a tremendously rewarding project and I walked away with a sense of accomplishment unlike anything I have experienced before.

I thought I would share some lessons learned along with some mushy “hug a puppy”, “share your feelings” stuff…..

  1. It is more difficult than it looks: Working on a game requires a unique thought pattern and it took me a while to get my “game brain” in gear.  I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough experience gaming to be able to contribute to the project. We had to think about the game from the perspective of the player and imagine what they might be thinking as they tackled each challenge. You find yourself working backwards from the end result to troubleshoot and identify any potential problems. Definitely a learning curve for me, but one that I enjoyed immensely. 
  1. Trust is defined as “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; or something committed into the care of another.” Although I knew and highly respected everyone on our team of collaborators, we had never worked together on a project. We were separated geographically, which meant that much of our contact was done online, via telephone and email. We needed to have trust in one another to get the job done. We all had to be invested and committed to the end result. I don’t like to throw words like “serendipity” around, but that is what it felt like. We were brought together by Tahira Endean (Event Camp Vancouver was Tahira's brainchild) and Shawna, James and I just clicked! I had complete faith in my fellow collaborators.

  1. Share: In a project like this, you have to be willing and able to share your ideas and sometimes it can be difficult to fully articulate what you are thinking. James Hu from QuickMobile was like Yoda…..he intuitively knew what we were trying to express and he would respond back with solutions.

  1. Everyone crosses the finish line together: There is a commercial on television showing a race where a child stumbles and the others stop, come back, help the child up and then they all cross the finish line together. That is how it felt working on this project. We were determined to cross the finish line together. When we felt that there was a loss in momentum, we stopped, came back, identified the bottleneck and then moved forward. Good/bad, success/failure….we were all in it together.

  1. Yes we can! I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished with “Get Your Green On”. I will look back on this project fondly, with the knowledge that I contributed to a project with such a positive outcome and was able to create lasting friendships.

If you are interested in downloading a copy of the complete “Get Your Green On” Report – it is available for download here.



Shawna McKinley said...

So agree!!

I'd also add "What if" and "Yes, and" to this list. I can't recall a single time working on this project where we had a major "but" that limited what we wanted to do (oh, other than the fact we had no budget haha). It was a steady stream of "yes, and..": lets add live leader board signage onsite; let's add a charity fundraiser; let's add shower timers; let's add QR codes for sponsors. The supportive environment for ideas just built momentum!

And in terms of the "What if", I was really grateful for all the times someone anticipated something bad happening that would impact the project. What if people find it too complicated? What if we could better show value for sponsors? What if people upload really bad party photos to the gallery? What if people feel it's too competitive? Being proactive about problems really saved us I think (although, I realise I never asked 'what if the interwebs went down' - definitely going to ask that next time!).

Great post Judy!

And yes, James Hsu is really Yoda.

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks Shawna - I hadn't thought about the "Yes, and" but you are completely right. I think perhaps that is why the project became so enjoyable....because we never limited ourselves...we were willing to go that one step further and support the ideas of one another.