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Raising the game: A manifesto to move your business forward


Maybe we just need to treat our business a bit more like a game to get results. Catherine Wilks explains.
Before you start to play a game, people want to know what the rules of the game are. This is so everyone knows how to join in, what the aim of the game is, and if it is a competitive game, how to win. Just last week I played a game with one team, and at the start everyone was asking for clarification on the rules. At this time, everyone is thinking 'How am I going to play this one'. Everyone starts to shuffle and find their place, moving slowly at first and then becoming more purposeful with their decision making as the game progressed. It gets easier in the doing, so the more people played the game, the more confident they got, the more chances they took and the further they went.
I work with businesses on culture change, leadership and employee engagement projects. My approach is a little unorthodox; it's based on movement and play. But this makes perfect sense if we're talking about the game of business, and how to play. I am interested in how play changes the way people work together. As a child, we learn through play and as an adult it can have a huge impact on how we build relationships, communicate, develop ideas, solve problems and even form strategies.
"As a child, we learn through play and as an adult it can have a huge impact on how we build relationships"

The rules of the game

The more games we play, the more we realise how there are different types of games. There are games with...
Direct rules - tasks are given and there is a right and a wrong way to play.
Implied rules - suggestions are made, and starting points given. There is an expectation of what will happen, and an order to move through.
Choice - resources are made available, a framework is presented. Players get to choose when to join in and how.
Free - the space is a space. Anything is possible. Players get to choose when, and how and who and what, and may not know why.
In a growing business, the structures and systems put in place can influence how people connect, engage and play their part. They impact on how people choose to play the game. What was really interesting in the games I was playing last week was how people responded with different types of game rules.
'I felt like I had no control, it was frustrating'
'When I had ideas, I couldn't put them in to action'
'I knew what I was doing so that I could just get on with it'
'It was too easy, I needed more of a challenge'
'We all came together, it was chaos, but it was fun and it worked'
The best games to me are where you still have freedom to play. There is a framework, but everyone still gets to play the game in their way, to achieve.

Raising the game

To raise the game in your business, you must write the rules of the game you want to play. Manifestos are a powerful way in your business to provide the framework by which everyone will play whilst allowing the autonomy that is needed for everyone to move forward together.
"Just like a great game, a manifesto should get the heart beating and make everyone want to jump on board and join the adventure"
A manifesto is a public statement of views and intentions to get everyone moving and taking action. Playing a game is all about making decisions. The rules of the game determine how those decisions are made. A manifesto will guide how decisions are made in your business. Just like a great game, a manifesto should get the heart beating and make everyone want to jump on board and join the adventure.

Starting points for you to play with

Before you write your manifesto, gather ideas and information that can help put together a manifesto that is a true reflection of your business, and the people who work there.
  • What inspires the business?
  • What is your mission?
  • What frustrates you about the way things are done now in your industry?
  • What matters to your business the most?
  • What are you great at?
  • What makes you special?
  • Who are the people you can add value to, and impact the most?
  • What is your call to action?

Writing the manifesto

There is no right or wrong to this, it is whatever works for your team and your business. Being creative and inspiring is what counts. However we have found these things help:
  • Be purposeful, and state your opinions as fact
  • Keep it short- one page, 4-6 points, and simple language
  • Set it free, and share it. It doesn't have to be perfect, and you can change it at anytime
  • Don't forget to keep playing!
Catherine Wilks is the founder and director of In Movement and blogs at 

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