Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strengths, weaknesses and games

StrengthsFinder is an amazing book, and an assessment tool that helps you discover your strengths. Its central concept is that you should focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. I was introduced to it at the Summer of Code (NZ) program several years ago. The concept of focusing on strengths was just brilliant.

This really reminded me of my game playing style, especially in RPGs, where you have to increase the levels and skills of your character(s) in order to be able to fight enemies that pop up with increasing difficulty and toughness.

What is the usual strategy here? Increase your strong attributes up to insane levels. Weaker attributes would be increased only for the sake of 'balance'.  To translate into gamer-speak:
Level up all magic skills for the mage, and have some combat skills to keep up with the group. Increase the tank's combat and defense skills to insane, and increase healing and magic if there's a chance.
Balance is important as weaknesses cannot be so abysmally weak that you cannot function if a team member which has that strength was unavailable. In gamer-speak again:
Tank has to be able to self-heal and revive mage if mage goes down, and hang on until mage revives and heals group.
Imagine instead we concentrate on improving weakness more than improving strengths. What would result is a group that has similar strengths and weakness, i.e. a homogeneous group, but at levels lower than peak strengths. This team of 'all-rounders' would then be able to do each other's jobs, but none would available to handle particularly difficult problems. In game-land, this is referred to as:
Boss kills mediocre party in one stroke.
Whereas a team with people who has different and fully-developed skills will have a better chance of tackling the problem. In game-land, this scenario is better:
Boss unleashes stroke of hell, tank survives and manages to revive others. Or Mage casts protective spell powerful enough to protect party.
Which brings us to complementary strengths. The team must have a variety of different strengths to deal with different problems that crop up. This, ideally should be addressed when you are starting to hire for the team. Of course it's hard to figure out strengths in an interview. Take time, figure out what strengths are needed for teams, as you never know what high-level boss crazy, hairy problem your team will face...