Hal, who is in charge of his company's HR training efforts, loves to play TinyPig Racer on his phone. He receives push notifications when new pig races become available. He has unlocked 82 different types of racing pigs and 15 different race courses. He regularly shares these achievements across three different social media platforms. It might be the only game Hal plays, and no one really has the heart to tell him that most people quit playing TinyPig Racer in 2012. They consider his obsession either endearingly out-of-touch or outright bizarre.
What do you do when the single lens and avenue of comparison that most excites your client is TinyPig Racer—a seven-year-old mobile game in which you collect and race animated pigs to acquire an assortment of meaningless virtual prizes? Especially when not many people on your side think TinyPig Racer has a design or mechanics well suited to training learners in life-and-limb-saving industrial safety procedures?
Sometimes, clients and providers don’t share the same vision for a project. Sometimes it might feel like you’re from different planets. You can save one another quite a bit of time and sanity with the proper approach.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Of course, you can’t gape at Hal and say, “You want to make it like the pig racing thing? Are you out of your mind?” Well, you can, but that’s not the best question. Get past that initial impression. When he mentions this, maybe what he actually means is that he wants a scoring system, or a leaderboard, or some kind of social aspect to the training. Don’t let his limited pool of references get in the way of his message.
Or maybe he literally wants there to be tiny pigs that race. Make sure that’s the case, though.
HAVE AN OPEN MIND
What we learn from past achievements can stand in the way of future advances. We all come into a project with preconceived ideas about how things should be. Don’t let these things blind you to a world of possibilities. How can Hal’s ideas work? Is there a way to balance the seriousness of the subject matter with the gamified elements Hal imagines?
There might be, as long as it doesn’t involve those little cartoon pigs!
SAY YOUR PIECE, MAKE YOUR PEACE
Obviously, you have a responsibility to make a great product and to give learners the skills they need. But sometimes you have to accept that there’s more than one way to do that, and it’s not the way you would personally prefer.
Katie Markovich, a Content Producer at NogginLabs, explains, “Take stock of how bad it would really be if an element remains blue instead of changing to green. Talk to your team; keep talking, and then talk some more. The subjective stuff will likely remain subjective, but with effective communication and a realistic assessment of the project, you can begin to lead a professional life void of unnecessary arguments."
What matters most are results. Great training brings value and changes behavior. Let Hal have some unlockable trophies, or some collectible-sharing aspect, and figure out how you can make the most of them. And then you will all cross the finish line as winnersjust like Hal's most prized TinyPigs.