Thursday, December 11, 2008

executive rationing

I grew up in an area with millionaire homes just a short walk from trailer parks. So I quickly learned that rich and poor people, excepting the furthest extremes, tend to worry about the same things: grocery bills, energy and water bills, medical bills, tuition, gas, etc. This occurs because most people, regardless of social class, live up to their means. If they have money, they spend money... much of it on fruitless activities and items.

This basic psychological pattern applies to all aspects of life, including production of both artistic and (for lack of a better term) pragmatic works. Whatever resources you offer, expect them to be spent. I was reminded of this as I put Christmas ornaments on a tree. The tree would look good with half the ornaments I had available, but I felt compelled to use every ornament.

It's good executive practice to intentionally limit resources. Doing so not only helps to bring costs down, but also forces craftsmen to be more careful and innovative.

For example, provide artists with less memory storage and RAM usage than they would like. You can also place aesthetic limits on them, such as forbidding particular methods or styles. Challenge them by saying their new work should not look like anything they've created before (forbidding styles and imposing styles are very different in effect, particularly regarding the artist's enthusiasm).

Demand miracles. All the great leaders throughout history accomplished what they did because they demanded the impossible of those who served them. All people are capable of more than what they usually commit to. Inspiring leadership goes a long way in helping them achieve greater things. Their greatest reward will probably be the moment the job is finished and they can appreciate the extraordinary work they've done, but some positive encouragement helps, of course.

Writers, especially, need limits. Generally speaking, words cost nothing... and writers love to spend (use more words, more characters, etc). And a bad story can ruin a game. So be sure to place plenty of limits on your writers.

Allow workers to help choose their own limits. This doesn't mean accepting exactly the limits they offer, but their input will help keep the limits reasonable and also make workers more willing to accept the hardships.

People tend to rise to expectations. Even unreachable ideals can be useful when expectations are reasonable.

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