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Got Strategic Initiatives?
by Simon Ludgate on 12/05/12 04:20:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Just last week, Gamasutra highlighted an interesting job at an interesting company: Producer, Strategic Initiatives at Blizzard. What does this entail?

Are you smart, creative, and organized, and do you have an unrelenting drive to get shit done? If so, Blizzard Entertainment wants you to join our strategic initiatives team.

Our group specializes in helping Blizzard Entertainment think about, and execute on ways to evolve our game development organization and to design, test, and implement new ideas.

So my reading is that Strategic Initiatives is basically an internal QA team: a group that picks over everything the company produces and the way it’s produced to find areas of improvement or innovation. It’s a video-game twist on the BASF slogan: the SI team doesn’t make games, they make games better.

It’s the same kind of ethic I’ve been trying to pioneer for many years, right down to suggesting that Librarians are the solution. But proposing solutions doesn’t seem to be enough. It seems clear that many of the problems people report about organizational chaos in game studios are tied to the trappings from the resistance to organizational change. Even when people do want to make things better, the old way of doing things, the old way of dividing studio resources, pervades.

Some companies stand out and hire outside the box. Riot has their Psychologists, CCP has their economists, and so forth. And they tend to see great success from doing so. That’s why I strongly advocate the need to break out of the loop of recycled talent and bring fresh ideas and processes into the game industry.

That’s also why this Strategic Initiatives team stands out. It seems to have the mandate to pioneer that change.

Unfortunately, the day after the job was highlighted on Gamasutra, Blizzard withdrew the position. I haven’t been able to find out anything more about the Strategic Initiatives team at Blizzard, and I haven’t heard of any other studio having anything similar.

I’m hoping others in the Gamasutra community can contribute to a wider understanding of the prevalence and value of a team like this. Does your studio have a Strategic Initiatives team? If it does, what kind of people are in it, and what does it do? If it doesn’t, what kind of people would you want, and what would you want them to do?


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Comments


Carlo Delallana
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Double Fine's "Amnesia Fortnite" is a strategic initiative. Valve's goal to create a flat management structure is a strategic initiative. I'm not sure that strategic initiatives has to be something that is governed by a separate team of experts. Like Hack-a-thons, or Google and Atlasssian's 20% time, you can tap existing team members to help your organization think outside of the box. Check out this new strategic initiative at LinkedIn called InCubator: http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/llinkedin-20-percent-time/

When the burden of creating new strategic initiatives falls on everyone in the company then you create long term engagement. Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. These are the things that drive people to do great things. I wonder if a selected team dedicated to the singular task of "Strategic Initiatives" could result in a disengaged team who may feel that the products they create to the trajectory of their career is tied to what other people think these should be.


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