Blog: 10 key HR lessons from Pokemon GO

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10 key HR lessons from Pokemon GO

Here are curious and practical life lessons that can be distilled from the Pokmon Go phenomenon.
10 key HR lessons from Pokemon GO

“Pokéconomics” - is the new buzzword for Engagement, Retention, Virality and Monetisation.

Whether you’re trying to catch ’em all yourself, or have had your curiosity sparked by people running around your neighborhood, phones out, you’ve certainly crossed paths with Pokémon Go. 

For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is a free mobile game app and it’s the latest installment in the 20-year-long Pokémon franchise. 

The game uses augmented reality to enable players to catch fictional creatures called Pokémon. When you first register to play the game, you create your own character, who will go on to catch these magical creatures, train them in Pokémon Gyms, and become a Pokémon Master.

With 21 million daily players, Pokémon Go has altered life for the Japanese company – Nintendo, doubling its market capitalization to $42.5 billionn, since the game’s release in the USA in July’16

There are curious and practical life lessons that can be distilled from the Pokémon Go phenomenon.

Here are the key 10 lessons:

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself

Nintendo historically enjoyed a solid market share since the 1990’s with its gaming hardware, including the Gameboy, SNES, N64 and Wii, and its gaming intellectual property (IP) such as Mario Bros., Pokémon and Wii Sports.

In recent times, however, the company’s latest hardware offering, the Wii U, failed against the Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.  

Forced into losses, Nintendo reassessed its own situation.  It disrupted its own business model, and pursued an alternative path towards mobile augmented reality gaming, basis collaboration with another partner, Niantic Labs.

Harness diversity to your advantage

Nintendo partnered with Niantic Labs to harness their AR core-competence in conjunction with the Pokémon IP and developed a mobile application, which achieved viral status by targeting an existing, dedicated community to drive widespread adoption.

Nintendo exploited the tactical relationships through collaboration.

If you only catch fire-type Pokémon, you’ll do great against grass-type opponents, but you’ll fail miserably when facing water-type opponents. 

Similarly, if your company has a killer salesforce but a terrible customer service team, you’ll only excel in new business – but will be unable to retain clients, thus losing out on long-term clients who can help you remain profitable.

Recruitment - Don’t Settle for Any Candidate

When you start playing Pokémon GO, you get to choose from one of three basic starter Pokémon – Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander. 

As you might already know, Pikachu is probably the most sought-after Pokémon in the game. 

But what you probably didn’t know, is that if you keep on rejecting all three of the initial starter Pokémon at the beginning, then eventually, you get the option to start the game with this adorable yellow mouse.

In the real world, often recruiters work under under pressure and deadlines, and it often results in them settling for the second best. For example, let’s say you’re an FMCG company looking for a top notch finance professional. If you accept the first simple Squirtle that comes along with only average credentials, you might miss out on capturing that elusive Pikachu with just amazing credentials. 

Do not settle for sub-par talent – the wait is often worth it. 

Recruitment - Timing is really important

Pokemon launched just after the start of summer, when kids are out of school, festivals are kicking up, and people are looking for any excuse to go outside and walk around. 

Can you imagine what it would be like if the game launched in the dead of winter? During a blizzard? 

The launch date is no coincidence; Pokemon is 20 years old now, and fans who were children when the series’ first launched are now 20-something adults with significant buying power.

When planning your expansion strategy for your finance team, it would be worthwhile to consider recruiting CA freshers around July and January – that’s when the results come out and you can cherry pick from the best of talent. For experienced hires, try looking around after the appraisal cycles. You find a greater pool of candidates actively looking for jobs.

Compensation- Set the Right Pay

When trying to catch and keep the perfect Pokémon, you have a small circle that continues getting smaller. If you get the ball in the circle, you have a higher chance of catching the Pokémon – but the smaller the circle gets, the harder it becomes to hit it.

If you’re trying to hire a Head of Internal Audit with 10 years’ experience, but are only willing to offer a salary of Rs 15 lakhs, you’re setting your circle too small and will find it very difficult to catch one. Offer a higher amount and you’re setting a very big circle that will increases your probability of finding a good catch

Of-course, there is a fine line between too much and too little. Don’t throw your Pokémon too far or too short, and set the perfectly-sized circle.

Internal Talent - Sometimes the Answer is Right under your Nose

You have 20 Drowzees, but can’t seem to find a Hypno. Instead of wasting hours wandering the streets in the hope that you’ll find one, why not simply “evolve” one of the Drowzees you already have?

When recruiting for a senior position in your company, you shouldn’t set your sights only on external talent. You might have internal talent that, which can be groomed to evolve into the role with a fair bit of training 

Employer Brand - Attract Talent with “Incense”

In Pokémon, you can use “incense” to lure Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes. If you don’t use incense, then the only option is to get out of your armchair and wandering around outside in the hope that you’ll find them. Is your company “incensed” to attract top talent? 

While this certainly does not mean you have to be Google, but efforts to spread the word around your employer brand will certainly help talent find its way to you.

Branding can be a great asset. The game may be good but will take off only with superior brand management strategies.

Pokémon Go is actually loosely on concept employed by another game -  Ingress. Have you ever heard of Ingress? Possibly, but quite unlikely. The brand could not make it to people’s minds.

Pokemon, on the other hand, is a brand that’s been consistently developing itself for more than 20 years. Its character design, game quality, and tone as a video game series (and anime) has become so powerful, its presence alone helped sell the game to multiple generations of Pokemon fans. 

Social proof is everything these days

Have you invested in creating the right vibes in the market about your brand? Is your social media strategy robust enough to create a compelling image about your company?

Thanks to our immediately connected, social media-integrated world, social proof is everything in the modern era. We won’t buy a product unless someone else has reviewed it first. With Pokémon Go, social proof is visible—when you see people having fun with the same mobile game almost everywhere you turn, it’s almost impossible not to want to get involved.

Imagine what shareable moments your brand can encourage. Then help your customers make those experiences their own, and support them in crafting and sharing their stories.

Tap into nostalgia, but give it a modern twist 

Millennials crave experiences that are simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic; Pokémon Go literally modernizes childhood memories by putting familiar characters into augmented reality.

The first is a layer of nostalgia; 20-somethings all over the country grew up with Pokemon. When the first Pokemon game came out in 1996, kids were 10 years old. Now they are 30. The game allows them to get warm and fuzzy feelings from Pokemon because it reminds us of a phenomenon that swept their generation and continues to do so today. 

Bring people together and make them work out

Pokémon Go implies physical exercise. As part of the game, you have to get out of the house in search of Pokémon or valuable landmarks that host PokéStops or Pokémon Gyms. On top of that, you can also have a Pokémon egg that will hatch only if you walk a certain distance.

Users are saying the game has brought a much needed workout to their lives

Make sure your employees remain productive

While doing this all, do ensure that your employees do not take you for a ride.

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