Risk re-invention to lead and remain relevant- Mind blowing horizontal leadership lessons from PokémonGo

All through last week, the internet and part of the real world was taken by storm with the launch of PokémonGo- an augmented reality mobile game launched by The Pokémon Company in early July this year. From video games to trading card games and from animated television series to animated movies, the diversity from the house of the Pokémon franchise has always been intriguing. Of the many diehard fans that Pikachu had, I should admit I have always been one. And for someone like me who grew watching these lovable characters on screen, the newbie in town was a sure to catch up. I have never been a hardcore or a casual gamer, but the whole hoopla about Pokémon in reality was definitely to me, a must experience. I think that’s what the developers got right. The very fact that this game bridges the link between the reel and real world was what made PokémonGo a phenomenon amidst many others that still continue to be games.

As millennials, we have been fortunate to see the rise of candy crush saga, angrybirds, clash of clans and others and fortunately, we have also seen the rise of Pokémon having outshined all these players to be a sheer game changer in the gaming sorority. Having tracked significant advances in this sector, I would be right at this point to state that PokémonGo has disrupted the 100 billion dollar gaming industry and created a mark that has surpassed all major records, players in the industry have earlier created. Isn’t this Leadership at its best? For the many times you have been wondering, the impact of horizontal leadership, the rise of the Pokes explains it all. I truly believe, the essence of a horizontal leader is his ability to create a massive impact that leaves the vertical leaders in jitters. Leadership in today’s world is not anymore about the power of authority but the power of impact and influence someone or something creates that disrupts an existing equation in view of becoming a true game changer. Now do you reckon what PokémonGo is to the world of leading gaming companies? Not just gaming, but to the world of social networking companies?

Signalling a new era in gaming, PokémonGo has been creating ripples across boundaries with its disruptive intervention and design artifact. But if you are still caught in the web of it being a mere game that will lose its fad in the near future, you might be in for some big surprise. Because, unlike games like temple run, candy crush and few others that was built with a motive of being a differentiator, PokémonGo was built to be a disruptor. Not to say that it is the first AR game. In fact PokémonGo was built on Ingress which was the company’s first AR online location based game developed by Niantic. So, if not being an innovator, what sets PokémonGo apart from the ones in history and in existence? Well, it’s a simple thought that worked right. PokémonGo is not yet another AR mobile game. It’s rather a new approach to social networking, with game being just the base.

Today’s generation on one hand is on the constant look- out for innovative forms of distraction and on the other, fancy any kind of technological advance attached to it. PokémonGo has the best of both and guess what you have been witnessing? nothing but ‘technological seduction’.

PokémonGo is hands down an ingeniously crafted game that covets your attention with the idea of Augmented Reality and retains your concentration with the euphoria of social networking. If I should sum it up in a single sentence, I could certainly say that ‘games are for the die- hards while PokémonGo is for everyone’. And of the many interventions that have changed the face of human interaction, PokémonGo will surely remain in history ‘The Game Boy’ of the times.

Amidst the whole traction on to the game, there are some compelling horizontal leadership lessons both individuals and institutions can learn from the evolution of PokémonGo. Here are my top three:

Embrace innovation and risk reinvention:

The essence of innovation is to be able to accept change and to believe that you have the chance to change the world. The world’s greatest leaders in history have always been catalysts of change and until the end of times; this universal theory about innovation will continue to dominate the definition of one being a leader, be it either vertical or horizontal.  There might be instances many that prove, not all innovators end up being leaders. In fact, it is true that leadership often restricts its label only to the winners. While this is the conventional approach, breaking this stereotype are the horizontal ones that risk re-invention and in the process create a lasting impact as game -changers. PokémonGo is nothing but Ingress in its new avatar, while the later is a failure story as regards innovation by incorporating AR in games, the former is today a game -changer that has transformed the whole gaming industry. For all you know, sometimes the power of re-invention surpasses the power of innovation.

Aim to disrupt and always head towards creating an impact:

Always aim to disrupt. You may end up being a mere differentiator- the first few instances, but eventually, the impact you create differentiating, will drive you towards disruption and soon you transcend and rise in distinction. While innovation is often measured by the degree of differentiation, progress is measured by the impact of disruption. There is a thin line between differentiation and disruption that often blinds itself in the intensity of influence. Hence, as horizontal leaders, always head towards creating that impact that can transform the world in ways never foreseen. And if you have changed even part of the world through your approach and solution to a problem, be assured you have led the rest to follow your path in making a difference.

Consistency is everything while conviction is the key to consistency:

Certainly, consistency is one of the major concerns both individuals and organisations fighting the leadership battle face on a day to day basis and something that as leaders one needs to deal with, effectively. Your true power is not merely being able to showcase your difference once or twice, but in consistently being able to maintain that difference. So what drives consistency? Is it passion or perseverance? Well, I kept dabbling my thoughts between both passion and perseverance to best realise that passion, however emotionally connected it is, it subsides in the absence of recognition. But perseverance that is contributed by conviction is what urges constant differentiation and drives consistency. To be able to lead you should be able to team conviction and consistency. Failing which, it might cost you huge, even to the extent of your very leadership.

The author is Salin Amanda Louis, Co-founder and leadership strategist at Persona

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