Failure is one of the most powerful teachers in life, business and projects. In games most of us will run out of lives or lose our life to enemy powers, only to resume a few hours later when it has re-fueled or a new game begins. I sometimes wish in life that it would be just as easy. And maybe for some it is exactly that easy. I can’t help taking failure to heart a little or a lot depending on the circumstance, before I can move on and learn from it. I take a bit of time to re-group, work through what went wrong and on occasion probably overthink it. I do however according to my close friends have a knack of bouncing back and going again, personally I am not always sure this is an accurate description.
Failure teaches us that what we were doing either didn’t work in the given conditions, was the wrong approach to handle something or was the wrong solution for a problem. In most of our gamification work we have hit points of failure, were we had to review how something that was implemented didn’t quite get the results we wanted. We would look at the analytics and determine other strategies. Sometimes we would go as far as throwing out a solution and starting from scratch.
Designing for human behaviour always starts with understanding the humans whose behaviour you want to enhance. On any project where this was not carried out thoroughly, we know the solution had to be modified later, so now it is a non-negotiable and making that clear to big corporations is a big challenge. However when they see the amount of feedback it creates and valuable input they usually come around to our thinking. On the odd occasion we also see them wondering what will happen with the information and then the lightbulb comes on at gamification design.
We always want to keep tweaking our solution to make sure the desired effect is achieved. When starting from 0 engagement and getting to 20% that is an improvement, but the leaps after that that ensure hitting 40 to 50% require regular analytical review. When you run blind and have no access to reports, it is hard to pinpoint the problem areas. This happened once or twice when either the platform we worked with had no analytics or the client didn’t want to add in their analytics connection. In those cases you go on personal hunches and obvious things you can see. I prefer the data, because they tell the true story.
The stuff that hits me the hardest is the client you have really wanted to help and for a number of reasons doesn’t get the ultimate results, whether it is that push to 50% engagement, awards etc. and then without allowing for much discussion lets you know they have dropped your solution. It makes me sad and also indicates a level of failure to educate and/or communicate on my side. It takes me some time to move on, because in my view there were still options open. I know for sure I brought to the project the best I knew at the time with the resources and budget at hand.
Sometimes you can’t win them all and that makes me sad, because no matter how hard we try there will be occasions where people are unhappy. It is the type of failure that is harder to fix, we will give it a try to leave with the human relationship intact even if in their view the business solution didn’t deliver.
What failures have you come across and how do you deal with them?