The Management Lab

A taste of our own medicine

Hybrid Simulations isn’t just a game developer with a vision of how things could be in the world, and in business.  We’re also researching management theory and practice, and we offer advice on how organizations can reduce costs, improve results, and offer better working conditions.  We have confidence that our methods work because we use them on ourselves – our managing consultants use these tools themselves, and their feedback is a vital component of our quality control process.  We also know that our tools are relevant to solving the problems of real-life managers, because every tool was invented in response to a problem that we encountered.

Methodology Classification Tool

Should we be using Scrum, or Disciplined Agile Development, or CMM-I, or ITIL, or Design Patterns or some combination of those things?  Do we need a vision statement, a set of core values, a plan, a culture, or an attitude?  If you get what you measure, and any measure that becomes a target stops being a measure, and our iceberg is melting, then who moved our cheese?

What we needed was a way of understanding methodologies without having to implement them first.  A way of understanding whether the people who were pitching solutions to us were pitching something relevant to our needs.  We needed a way to predict the kinds of adjustments we’d need to make, and who should do the adjusting.  Our methodology classification tool helps us fill these needs.

Sustainable Innovation Framework

We’ve got great people with great ideas, and we’ve got limited budgets.  The computer games marketplace is constantly changing and evolving, and we have to keep moving to keep up with it.  If we bet the farm every time we play, some day we’re going to be unlucky.  How do we manage the risks associated with investing in new ideas?  We use the Sustainable Innovation Framework.

Requisite Organization

Google is the death of the knowledge worker – the value of having facts in your head is dropping every day.  What we need is good judgement: an understanding of which facts matter, and how to use them.  How do we give our people the opportunity to exercise judgement and experience the consequences of their decisions, while protecting the business from the dangers of inexperience?  We use Requisite Organization to make sure that supervision doesn’t become meddling, and that people know what to expect from each other.  If it works for General Electric and the US Army, it’s worth taking seriously.

Requisite Disorganization

Requisite Organization demands that organization designers fill in a highly-defined template.  We accept that every 1 should ideally be managed by a 2, who is managed by a 3, who is managed by a 4, but what if you’ve only got enough work for two people?  What if nobody in the world has experience in the roles you need to fill?  What if the idea your receptionist just had is the one that’s going to revolutionize the industry?  To maintain our ability to create and survive in an unpredictable world, we make sure that we’re disorganized enough to be able to explore the unknown.  If it works for Valve and Google, it’s worth taking seriously.

Conflict Resolution Framework

As artists, we care about our work, and we don’t always agree about what to do next, or how it should be done.  We’ve had more than one painful experience where we realised that the debate which had raged on for hours could have been resolved in five minutes if we’d asked the right question.  Our Conflict Resolution Framework steers us towards questions that will help us to defuse tensions, promote understanding, and improve the quality of our decisions:

  1. Do we know what we’re really arguing about?
  2. What kind of agreement is going to allow us to move forward?
  3. What information would allow us to make a good decision?
  4. How do we get the information we need?