Joe Purcell

Four Key Ingredients for Creating Powerpuff Techs

Joe Purcell   September 22nd, 2011

Sugar. Spice. And everything nice… These were the ingredients chosen for creating the perfect… wait, that’s for Powerpuff Girls. The ingredients for the perfect IT techs are tasks, recognition, and reward, and then spill in some Chemical X, also known as expectation.

Tasks

If you want to see your tech team leap tall buildings and defeat the most frightening IT enemies, give them tasks to do. Make them straightforward, and bluntly so. Tech people tend to view the world in if-else statements, so the more your IT department operates in that way the more will be accomplished and the better your tech team will operate. Few things are more fulfilling than knowing what you have to do and being able to accomplish it in bite-sized (20 minute) steps.

Recognition

Even more fulfilling than getting things done is being recognized for what you do. There is a reason why sticky notes and to-do apps sell: people love checking off what they’ve accomplished! There needs to be a sense of completion to tasks, because if there is a sense of completion then it feels like there is progress being made. Recognition could be as simple as a big white board in the IT office with the list of things to do and being able to check them off or as extravagant as parties or rankings. Not having recognition is like a program without an exit status; you never know when one task ends and another begins!

Reward

Even more fulfilling than getting things done and being recognized for it is being rewarded for what you’ve done. If you’ve ever played a Zynga app you know what I’m talking about. You earned +1 XP! You have no idea what it means, but you’ve just been rewarded! Or, you’ve just unlocked a bungalow! People will do a lot to achieve something they perceive as a reward, look at what people will do for $5. This is the only reason reason commission-based payrolls work. Apply the same concept to IT and it could be anything from parking spots to getting off an hour early on a Friday. Again, people will pay a lot for even small rewards.

Expectation (Chemical X)

Expectation is the “Chemical X” of creating Powerpuff Techs–techs that accomplish incredible tasks and are happy doing it. Expectation is what ties everything together and maximizes the volume of tasks techs accomplish. Again, consider if-else statements, when an atmosphere of expectation is built then techs will consider that if I accomplish this task then I will be recognized and then I will be rewarded with another task to accomplish and possibly a prize that is valuable to me and others.

Zynga has this concoction developed to perfection. When you play a Zynga app you are given tasks from the start, it is clear what you are supposed to accomplish, and when you accomplish a task a pop-up congratulates you, you are always rewarded with another task to accomplish, and often you are given some kind of prize. Expectation is built up of how accomplishing tasks will give me rewards and help me achieve my own personal goals of creating some form of empire or cafe. Porting these ideas to the tech field is difficult, but to get a feel for how this is done create a test Facebook account (unless you want to use your real one) and check out Empires and Allies so that you too can create Powerpuff Techs!

About The Author

Joe Purcell is a technology virtuoso, cyberspace frontiersman, and connoisseur of Linux, Mac, and Windows alike.