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Reign In Your Purpose

My number one rule for ensuring your project pays off is to spend more time than you expect on defining your project WHY – and then using that as your guide posts moving forward. It’s one of those things that is theoretically pleasing, but is often ignored when the pressures of reality hit. ‘Just get it delivered’ is often the catch-cry.

So to help reinforce the importance of this for you this week, let’s do a little comparison exercise between the design of two new apps.

Exhibit A: Metaverse Horizon Worlds – an app to, umm, do something social?

Meta (previously Facebook) has been in the news a lot lately – with huge declines in their share price and massive staff layoffs. But let’s ignore that for the moment, rather let’s take a quick look at the latest taste of their $15B ‘metaverse’ – ‘Horizon Worlds’. Because I have no interest in dropping close to $1k for the Meta-locked Virtual Reality headset, I instead spent 15mins watching a popular game streamer play it. (It’s rather amusing, so it’s linked here for you too).

For the sake of this comparison, let’s also put aside the virtual sexual abuse, and the completely empty worlds – Let’s just focus in on just the design decisions here made in absence of a clear value-centred WHY.

  • Cluttered, unintuitive menus & weird angles of view.
  • Clunky, nauseating movement.
  • Structured ways designed to milk player cash (it costs real money to applaud for virtual performers) → and of course the cash goes to Meta, not the performer.
  • Games that have no semblance of challenge or anything interested (you get to fly a paper aeroplane! Woo!).
  • In-game training videos that feel just as boring as those corporate induction videos you clicked through when you started your last role.
  • Oh, and graphics fidelity from 20+ years ago. (To give you a sense of where where current interactive graphics tech is heading, here’s a little comparison between a recent demo of Unreal Engine 5 & the metaverse.)

The big question here is what is the point of Horizon worlds, and who is it for? Gamers? Socialising? Corporate meetings?

The WHY isn’t clear and it shows.

As the streamer says: “It really is just, kinda boring”.

Exhibit B: Yerbo – an app to fight burnout.

Yerbo is a burnout assessment and self-help tool for tech workers. It has a clear WHY: “The Yerbo platform aims to keep workers in high-pressure jobs healthy.” – and this WHY was kept front and centre in their decision making & design. It was crucial that content easy to find to promote focus for burned-out users, so they:

  • minimised what was on-screen,
    A dashboard featuring colored meters that display levels of Work Engagement (3.7 out of 6) and Burnout (3.8 out of 6). The subcategories of Work Engagement include Mental Focus, Purpose, and Energy. The subcategories of Burnout Risk include Exhaustion, Cynicism, Depersonalization, and Self-inefficacy.
  • reduced the notifications they sent,
  • created a dedicated, immersive page for each task,
  • ensured all language was easy to read,
  • Designed messaging to praise users’ effort, not their outcomes (A message forcing positivity (like “You’re feeling better already!”) would diminish difficult experiences and encourage workers to ignore burnout symptoms, which makes them worse.)
  • Spent time on providing a simple sense of privacy and security.

The WHY shaped the project, and it’s all the better for it. I’d also imagine that it cost significantly less that $15B…

Because the looser your WHY, the more it’s going to cost you.

So what can we change leaders learn from Meta’s s#itshow? Well, a great many things.. Today though,

Let’s just dial in on getting that project WHY nice and clear.

And A Quick Note: On Adoption

Adoption really isn’t that complex. Make the reward of doing something more powerful than the pain in doing it. Simple.

Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

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