Managements Little Helper – Can Big Data Assist in Coping with Complexity?

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We are living in a complex world and due to current changes it is getting more complex every day. Decisions have to be made in real-time and stability can nowadays only be achieved through constant and dynamic change. If we take Ashby’s law of requisite variety (1956) this means that the control system has to become more complex in order to deal with the complexity that has to be controlled. Therefore it seems at hand to reduce the complexity and focus on the essential aspects relevant for an organization. As Beer (1979) states that a lower number of varieties are necessary to maintain the viability of an organization. But is it possible to disregard everything as white noise that is not following linearity and is not normally distributed. By that we can simplify the decisions of an organization but mostly we are establishing a big blind spot for the chaotic environment organization exists. Organizations have to move beyond reductionism (Barabási, 2012) and have to shift (back) towards complexity (Scholz, 2013).

In this paper we propose that support for dealing with complexity can be found in data and information. Today organization, actors and stakeholders generate data every time and everywhere. This is called big data. The concept of big data could become a little helper for an organization. However using big data in raw form is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Still though the data is present and should be used strategically.

Big data can be classified in four dimensions: Volume, variety, velocity and veracity (Schroeck et al. 2012). Volume represents the vast amount of data; variety states the number of different forms of data that can be already organized or is unstructured. Furthermore velocity is dealing with the speed data is collected and data is processed. Veracity is about the inconsistencies within the data. Especially the last dimensions reveals that big data should always be a support and not a substitution. It also means that data on its own is useless and organizations have to plan extensively before implementing any big data application.

Such big data strategies can help to cope with the complexity and filter the data according their relevance. Based on a strategic management it is possible to reduce the complexity according several governing rules. Furthermore there is the potential to develop threshold criteria that allow a dynamic approach of filtering. Changes in the data will be hidden until a defined tipping point occurs and after that point become relevant and hence are flagged by the system. Big data becomes a little helper that allows a rapid assessment of relevant issues concerning the organization and the affiliated actors within the complex system. A process of sense making is possible that allows evolving the big data applications to become more effective and more efficient.

Still though it is furthermore necessary to develop a framework within big data is used. Using big data is an on-going process of balancing the benefits and the risks. Questions according privacy and ethical use have to be tackled. Even though data can be collected everywhere and every time, it is essential that big data stays a little helper and doesn’t emerge towards a big brother. It is critical to state that big data is a tool, but its usage will have a strong influence on the complex system, it could chance the social contract (Peters, 2012) and eventually the working world.

References

Ashby, R. W., An Introduction to Cybernetics, London (Methuen), 1956.
Barabási, A.-L., The Network Takeover, in: Nature Physics 8 (2012), 14-16.
Beer, S. The Heart of Enterprise, London (Wiley), 1979.
Peters, B., The Age of Big Data, in: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradpeters/2012/07/12/the-age-of-big-data/, last accessed on 27.08.2013.
Scholz, T. M., Complex Systems in Organizations and Their Influence on Human Resource Management, in: Gilbert T./Kirkilonis, M./Nicolis, G. (eds.), Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems, Heidelberg (Springer), 2013, 745-750.

Blizzards Game Design Elements

My little Gnome Warlock back in the beginning of World of Warcraft

As I am currently reading a lot about Game Design I stumbled upon an interesting article about the panel of Rob Pardo (Executive Vice President of Game Design at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Game Developers Conference. He was talking about the Game Design of Blizzard. He stated eleven elements, which are essential for a Blizzard game.
Gameplay First: This is an interesting fact as the game has to be fun and fun is hereby the way to direct the gamer into the right way. Additional fun is a great way to increase the long-time motivation for the player.
Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master: The game has to be simple, with simple mechanics and objectives, so everybody can play the game and everybody has an easy entrance to the game. However there has to be more depth to the game than easy learning, in World of Warcraft you see that raiding and arenas are more difficult to master.
What is Fantasy? Rob Pardo was talking about the look of the game, especially the UI in World of Warcraft. This was a failure for Blizzard, as the vast majority of the gamer customized their UI, instead of using the standard interface.
Make Everything Overpowered: I have to admit, I played a Gnome Warrior and tanked some pretty big stuff, and often I did not see the whole model of the enemy. But as Rob Pardo said, this made it extremely special to challenge those enemies and defeat them. Make it overpowered and it is an epic adventure.
Concentrated Coolness: There are only few classes in World of Warcraft, if you compare it to the classes in Warcraft 3, however Blizzard took only the best elements and concentrated them into the few classes in World of Warcraft.
Play, Don’t Tell: That is interesting, as players tend to not read the quest text, but still want to experience the storyline. So Blizzard has to find ways that the quest text is only an enhancement for the story. For example the death knight starting area is a good example for that way.
Make it a Bonus: Players don’t like punishment, however if this effect is changed into a bonus players like it. Rob Pardo stated the Rest System of WoW as an example. In the beginning players are punished for playing too long (drop from 100% xp to 50% xp) and the players hated it, however he changed it into rested players get 200% xp and not-rested players stay at 100%. From the math the same system, but somehow the players loved the change.
Control is King: Blizzard had to sacrifice some cool animations and effects for the game play. Rob Pardo takes for example summon a mount, which appears beneath you in a puff of smoke. However a different animation would be cool, the control for the player would be less.
Tuning it Up: “Tuning is easy to do, hard to do well.” Thus it is important to tune your game for an audience it is necessary to still have hooks and try to know why you are tuning it this way.
Avoid the Grand Reveal: That is something interesting, Blizzard tries to show their stuff early and not until it is finished or perfect. Game developers have to establish an environment where feedback is encouraged and you can fail.
Culture of Polish: Polishing is not only for the team which tries to make a good game. Blizzard also brings in so called strike teams, people from other teams. They test the game as well and give feedback and a fresh perspective.
Definitely an interesting panel and it gave me some interesting insights into Game Design.

Team Shepard saves the Universe

Blizzard Picture from Diablo but still it is a Video-Game Picture

Probably some of you will have played Mass Effect 2 until now or at least heard about it, so I will try to avoid major spoilers. Vaguely speaking, this game is about a hero who assembles a team of aliens and humans in order to defeat an evil enemy. However, it is interesting that Bioware, the developer, stresses the interaction and the atmosphere between team members and the hero/leader. It is essential to raise the loyalty of every team member in order to succeed in the game, as these team members work or fight better if they trust the hero. Special at Mass Effect 2 is that Shepard (the hero character) searches for team members based on their skills and not based on their race. Therefore, he seeks for example a weapon specialist, an assassin, a warrior and several other extraordinary talents. However, contrary to the general tone in Human Resources, these talents are cutting edge in their field because of their race. Another example, the scientist in the team is a Salarian. “Salarians excel at invention, preferring to use cutting-edge technology rather than settle for anything less.” [1] As you can see, it is obvious that Shepard is choosing a Salarian as scientist having the best cultural requirements for the job. This demonstrates a key finding in my research field. Choose the best and use the cultural background. Sure, it is easy to do such things in a video game, where there is a big evil at the end, which destroys everything, however it is still necessary to forge a team, and this game shows a great way of forging. Beside the common goal, it is important to establish trust and loyalty observing the team leader. In Mass Effect 2 Shepard helps the team members to solve issues of their life, finding the lost father, defending by a trial. Sure not realistic in the world, but still it is interesting to watch. Shepard teams up with the best in the universe, who also are sometimes the scum of the universe, helps them to solve their past, gives them purpose to show their skills and, additionally, contribute to a project, in this case save the universe. Somehow excessive for the common job world, but still fascinating to see the parallels between multicultural high performance teams and Team Shepard.

The Strength of Team Will

Picture of the Fare-Well Game of Christian Schwarzer

Currently is in Team Handball the European Championship and I just watched the game between Germany and France and it is interesting to see, how important it is to have a strong team will. This tournament is even more fascinating as there are 15 favorites plus Austria, but what makes the difference? First of all we can say that each team is not at their best shape –  many technical errors –  and players not at their best conditional shape. So in general, every team can beat every team in this tournament and it is important that the team will is strong. The players have to handle hard situations and have to overcome weak phases. If you look at games like Austria versus Island, where the draw was secured in the last minute after a three goal lead of Island, or Germany overrun by France at the beginning of the second half with over eight minutes without a goal. Team Handball shows that it is essential to focus on the team and thereby get the team in a positive shape; although there are crises it is necessary that some people take the responsability to succeed in particular moments and additional to these small moments convey the emotions to the rest of the team. It shows that it is essential to give the team a signal and the team has to amplify these single moments to an entire motivational impulse for the team will. However these are some short insights into Team Handball it should be researched how these team will can be used in the team work in a Non-Handball area. Sure this sport lives from the intensive moments, the fast game and the emotions; still if we look at American Football, a game with long breaks, there are similar emotions possible. In context of GameStudy, Counter-Strike has similarities to these team will and the intense moments, and we can see that teams can fight their way back and turn a 14:1 to a 14:16 win. The question in any case is, what is necessary to achieve this emotional base in a team? Is the same target enough and/or has the chemistry be right? In my opinion this is an interesting topic and I hope that I can gain insights in future.

Gaming and Resumes

FSK Star AlliancePicture of the ST.A.R. Alliance

In my résumé I have some parts, which wouldn’t exist if I wouldn’t work in the field of gaming. Working as a journalist in gaming, writing on a book about eSports, however, I am still struggling with the fact that I was a leader of a team of people who was one of the best in the game of World of Warcraft, in Germany we were under the Top 20. In review, this was an intensive job with everything from recruiting, guidelines, payment, training and finally leading in a really delicate way. All this in a world, which could change rapidly – in a blink of an eye. In that time I was a CEO of a team of 60 High Potentials, in general this sounds great!   until I say “video-game”. After that argument the HR-person will think, I have less concentration at work, my life-center will be at the video game and I will have a sleeping disorder. This will stamp you in Australia and you probably won’t get the job.

In this article –in spite of all prejudices –  I want to try to show you that a so-called guild-leader of a successful guild has already some tools for leading a team. Every company has to have a vision that fits, the same thing is valid for a guild. This vision contains the general target of guilds, e.g. be the best on the server and the time amount they want to spend to be the best. The best guilds in the world are “working” every day of the week up to six hours a day. However, this length of time is only in case of new content, what you can compare with a new project or a tournament where only the fastest ones get the price and the honor of calling themselves first!  With this vision on mind a great amount of time will the leader be spending on get the right people and this is even harder for a guild-leader than the HR-people, because normally you don’t have a face-to-face interview and nowadays with this background you can change your name easily and (although it is illegal) you can buy a whole character at an auction-house.. But nevertheless after an online-interview and everything, the question arises, does this “worker” fit into the “company”? Especially as these “workers” will also spend a huge amount of leisure time together;  or otherwise you will soon have a formation of  groups; and this is a common reason for failure of a guild and leads to the confrontations which the guild leader has to resolve. For success the players have to be at their best for over six hours and in case of failure, it is often the mistake of some few people. In order to get progress the leader has to find a way of criticizing and not allowing to escalate a possible confrontation of other players. You have to remind, that on some nights the players fight for their target the whole night long and the amount of tries can be easily up to 20, this arises frustration and human mistakes. This is a dangerous situation and demands skills in delicate leadership. In the companies’ world a way to motivate people is the payment and in a changed way this is the same in the guild world; and this compensation  is varying as much as possible and every guild has its own way. However the common currency for the system is the so-called Dragon Kill Point (short: DKP). Players can get points for time, for success, for getting necessary stuff and many more ways and thereby use these points to buy items. It is important to establish a way to motivate the player to work for the guild. Furthermore, the guild leader has to check the finances of the guild. Real finances like costs of web-server or voice-server and in-game finances, and finally, to assure the long-term success of the guild and, if necessary, look for fusion-partners (e.g. summer time is always a difficult time).

Every point listed here can be researched at length  and will be published in future articles. The purpose of this article was to show that a good guild leader has the tools to adapt to a leadership position in a „real“ company and, therefore, my guild-life and of everybody else should be in my and everybody’s résumé as a positive sign for your future employee.

eMAG – Archiv

Manche können sich vielleich noch an die Projekte GameSports Magazin und eMAG Magazin erinnern? Im Zeitraum von 2003 und 2005 habe ich bei beiden Projekten als Chef-Redakteur und Projektleiter fungiert, jedenfalls ist mir gestern aufgefallen, dass die Ausgaben nicht mehr online zu finden sind und deshalb habe ich die Ausgaben hochgeladen, wer noch andere Sachen hat, bitte mir schicken (insbesondere das Fatality Video von der Games Convention 2004). Auf jedenfall viel Spass beim Lesen.

Weiteres Material sind vor allem fast 10 Gigabyte an Videos, wie zum Beispiel die World Cyber Games 2004 und ein kompletter Mitschnitt des Spielraums von Ocrana im EPS Finale 2004 gegen Mousesports. Dies wird jedoch noch dauern, da es noch ein wenig bearbeitet werden muss.