Success Story in Brief

A success story of how Microsoft Game Studios combined “wild creativity” with discipline, structure and science to develop “Kinect Adventures.”

8000000

Total units of Kinect for Xbox 360 sold in its first 60 days

About Kinect

Microsoft Studios is the video game production wing for Microsoft, responsible for the development and publishing of games for the Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Games for Windows, Steam, Windows Store, and Windows Phone platforms.

objective

Objective

Develop a pack-in game that would be enjoyed by a broad cross-section of consumers to demonstrate the wide appeal of the Kinect for Xbox 360 system—and do it in an extremely compressed timeline.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game platform was a hit with the typical gamer. By developing Kinect for Xbox 360, the company aimed to take that success to a broader consumer market. The groundbreaking Kinect sensor, which launched in Novemberof 2010, allows users to interact with and control the Xbox 360 using ordinary hand gestures and spoken commands. No game controller or hardcore gamer dexterity required.

But Microsoft realized that Kinect would also have to ship a game that equally appealed to a broad consumer audience to fully showcase the product’s reach.

What would it take to create an innovative title to deliver on Kinect’s promise?

Challenge

Balancing the wild creativity and disciplined structure that would be needed to meet the project’s goals.

The challenge Loftis’s team faced was a need to not only innovate and evolve the platform but also to meet an aggressive timeframe for getting the product to market. Figuring out how to give the development team the freedom necessary for creative experimentation while providing a structure and process to keep the development on track would be key.

The ideal solution would be a system Good Science Studio could apply to its internal team structure, communications, and methods to optimize creativity and decision making as well as to the external world to better understand consumers of all backgrounds and interests.

Solution

Fully leveraging the diversity of thought within the team and within the customer base.

With a tagline that announces “You are the controller,” it’s fitting that the title shipping with every Kinect sensor is the first consumer product built from the ground up using a Whole Brain® Thinking framework.

By harnessing the diversity of thought of the game design team as well as an understanding of the way different people prefer to think, Microsoft was able to create activities that connect with you, the consumer—no matter who you are or what you like to do.

From an internal standpoint, Loftis says that the Whole Brain® Thinking system allowed her team to successfully combine “wild creativity” with discipline, structure and science to get to better results. Creative experimentation can cause discomfort, she acknowledges, but the structure and continuous improvement integrated into the process made it easier to handle.

By providing a common language and understanding of how different thinking preferences come into play, this experience also gave “voice” to the full diversity of thought within the team, and that meant the group could reach more balanced solutions and ideas.

Kinect for Xbox 360 holds the Guinness World Record of being the “fastest selling consumer electronics device.” It sold an average of 133,333 units per day with a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days. As families around the world can attest, Kinect Adventures delivers on its promise of offering something for everyone.

Results

Integrating a Whole Brain® approach into the implementation of the Value Based Management initiative resulted in associate buy-in, which resonated at every level of the company and created a company-wide ownership of and participation in the transformation process.

By deliberately communicating the advantages and benefits in a way that considered the perspective of each thinking preference, associates across all areas of the company were able to embrace and participate in cost reduction and value creation activities. This process was further accelerated because they had a complete understanding of the whys and the hows.

Two years after Value Based Management’s initial introduction, UGN was able to attribute a cost savings of over $10 million per year due to incorporating the principles of Value Based Management in combination with other initiatives that evolved out of the LEAP program.

In addition, the effectiveness of the LEAP program, which embeds Whole Brain® Thinking into all aspects of the Action Learning Projects, has resulted in consistent annual increases to dedicated spending for training and development. These increases are in direct correlation with the measured and attained bottom-line results realized from the learning programs. By using the Whole Brain® Model, each project team is effectively able to quantify and measure return on investment in a manner that speaks to each quadrant preference on an individual and organization level.

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