Mission Mapping is an inclusive approach to shared action planning and an ideal tool for enabling teams to take charge of their own destiny.
But what if the team is not really a team? This was the case for Sony XDEV (Sony External Development Studio Europe), a collection of leading game producers. Game producers, like movie producers, are responsible for overseeing and organising their own projects and the countless services and technical teams required to take a concept and turn it into an immersive digital experience.
So why would a collection of clearly capable strategic planners need help with developing a strategic plan?
What the group had come to recognise was that, due to the externally focused nature of their work, much of their attention was on managing their own teams, most of whom where spread around the world. What they saw in DCD’s BIG Picture Mission Mapping was a fast, effective and fun way for them to develop a sense of collective purpose. A purpose capable of harnessing their combined expertise and progressing their professionalism.
Adjust the slider above to see the team’s transformation
Divided into seven clear stages, DCD’s Mission Maps make use of a distinctive format. A framework in which problems are solved, opportunities grasped and new ways of working realised.
Essential to this process is the way in which this tested structure is populated with thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Anchored using pictures, symbols, words and colour, the emerging graphic centers attention; drawing in the participants to see new connections. Completed in real-time, the artwork is ready at the end of the event to be read as a clear sequence of work that the refocused team can implement immediately.
As you would imagine from such creative professionals, the resulting graphic was both extremely inventive and at the same time comprehensive. Far too rich to explore in detail here, one of the motifs that really stood out from the process was that of two glowing green light bulbs. Stood alongside each other, these ‘bright idea’ bulbs each possess a radar detection dish rather than a standard filament.
To appreciate this metaphor you really need to understand the origins of the term ‘green-light’ in production parlance. Derived from the green light of traffic signals, indicating ‘go ahead’, to green-light a game project is to formally approve its finance, thereby allowing the venture to move forward from the development phase to full production. The power to green-light production is generally exercised by committees of the Sony’s high-level gaming executives.
Having worked back from where they wanted to be as a team, the green light bulbs appeared in recognition of the time, energy and funds invested in projects that never got off the starting blocks. What became clear to the group was how some types of projects and in particular some specific individuals achieved more consistent green-for-go approval. Yet, whilst it was obvious the know-how was present, this information was not formalised or shared as well as it could be.
Shining a light on the current reality, distinct vantage points were revealed at which best practice could be put into action. From how initial ideas are shortlisted, through to how pre-production efforts are presented at the approval stage, past triumphs had left a trail of clues detailing how to drive forwards winning results.
Deciding to research, collate and share this rich seam of knowledge, the group went on to create the concept of a peer mentoring and review programme. Envisioned as a means of highlighting problems and spotlighting opportunities throughout a new product’s early development, this early doors collaboration was felt to have long-range benefits, making it much easier to target success.
This wasn’t the only light bulb moment that this productive process sparked, with ideas appearing right across the board, as those involved made use of the bird’s eye overview the mission map graphic presents. Spying new connections and potential openings, everyone could see their contributions as they aligned their purpose and forged their own team identity.