Monday, December 1, 2008
One of the key ingredients that pushes a company or a product in the elite group is constant innovation. This applies to game development more than anything else because, in this industry, the winner takes it all and seldom it happens that a game that is not innovative sells.
How do we generate innovation, then? The process is tightly linked with a small resistance to change. It can only be embraced in a team that has constant improvement and self challenge as its core values. Innovation appears in teams made of professionals who are involved in the project beyond their current task. Innovation comes from inside those who spots a potential issue and propose a solution - even if the proposition cannot be applied directly, any idea, if spoken, can generate a cognitive process in someone else that might lead to something. It is a rare resource and it should be carefully managed and highly appreciated. It can be triggered only by sustaining a sense of friendship among the team members. It can be triggered by inviting team members to speak even if the subject is not necessary tied to their job description.
Constant brainstorming is a key process but innovation also comes from inside everyone - inner motivation and personal initiative being its traits. As lead, one should always take care people are not afraid to speak their thoughts. Innovation also comes from respect and the ability to actively listen to others - those who think too highly of themselves are less creative because they stopped listening. Everyone should know that their opinions are taken in consideration seriously.
Innovation needs time and, most of the time, it is an iterative process: an idea leads to a prototype, then again and again and then to the final product. People should have time to think and understand their role and the project, and, as a result, it will lead to something novel. However, care should be taken not to get lost in an infinite creative loop and never finish ;)