In the OSA method, we hold that happiness at work is best described as a game. And further, that “good games” have “good game mechanics.” In every good game as well as in happiness in life and at work, four important components are present:
- Purpose. Experiencing meaning and alignment around a common goal is part of all good games, and a vital component in living a happy, fulfilled life. This is true for individuals, teams, and whole organizations. Purpose is what answers the “why” of any initiative – why are we attending this meeting? – why are we doing this? – and why are we doing it this way? In OSA, the objective is to explore how to improve continuously, as an organization, via the experimental implementation of Agile practices.
- Rules. Explicit rules inform participants of how they are expected to act and relate to each other towards achieving the purpose of the game. The rules will reflect the values and culture of the game (e.g. competitive, collaborative etc.) It is through the common accepted rules that people feel a sense of membership and belonging to the community of participants. Belonging is also a vital component of happiness. In OSA, we agree to following the rules as they are laid out in the OSA Big Picture.
- Feedback. Keeping score of relevant progress metrics (time, points, finished tasks etc.) is what gives participants a sense of progress and accomplishment. Through feedback, people can adjust their behavior in order to advance their game and experience a sense of mastery and happiness. There are many forms of feedback in OSA, both extrinsic and intrinsic. When people learn through Direct Experience, they get immediate feedback from each other and their environment. When Leaders tell stories (see Leadership Storytelling) about Experiments with Agile Practices, they are in essence providing feedback. By gaming meetings, projects, and tasks, feedback will show participants where they are in relation to their purpose.
- Opt-in participation. Individuals who feel in control of their own time and intention will have easier access to their sense of autonomy, willpower, and engagement, which are the cornerstones of happiness, creative self-expression, and knowledge work (such as software development). In OSA, Opt-in Participation is essential and we replace coercive mandates of process-change with what amounts to an “an invitation to play a game.”
How to Construct a Good Game
By gaming your meetings, tasks, projects, and initiatives, you can tap into the power of engagement, progress, accountability, and purpose in order to get things done – by increasing happiness at work. The key activity is to define your initiative in terms of the four components of a good game, and state them loud and clear. You can use the following template:
- The purpose of this (meeting, task, project, initiative etc.) is …..
- The rules are as follows …..
- We will measure progress by …..
- You are invited to participate. Will you accept this Invitation ?
Written Louise Kold-Taylor, OSA-Certified Trainer