Guide – Being A Great Producer/Leader Part 1
After becoming slowly becoming a better Game Producer I thought it would be nice to share a few things I read and agree with, after trying it out myself. Below is a recommended guide to become a better Game Producer and the reality between fun, friendship and business aka work. I can’t cover everything so this is mostly related to habits or traits if you want to call it that.
The person needs to take risks because nothing great comes without taking risk. Everything you see today that you might consider great came because someone took a risk, a chance. A good trick is to start taking small risks first such as writing a blog and sharing risky opinion for risky topics, then the person will eventually find some method of risk contingency or a way to manage all this risk. With all risk there is a chance of failure so learning to admit “failure” on a smaller scale will prepare the person for the failures and rewards later on.
I can honestly and openly admit I required a lot more experience to eventually understand the concept of respect on a much larger scale with so many different people and as a producer this is very essential. In the beginning of my journey I was really terrible in showing respect for others ideas, passion, initiative and advice due to lack of perspective and understanding. Maybe because I grew up playing games and not socializing? Not only has life experience, social activity, seminars, meetings and friends helped me improve greatly in this area. But the person also need to demonstrate initiative, follow through, and a commitment to excellence. Simply by having integrity and doing what you say you will do will earn you some respect, this honestly is an important key in life too. I admit that last year experience made me grow a lot in this area.
Being a producer is being a leader and the persons job is to be determined to finish the goal, at any cost. They need to prove that what seems impossible is very much possible. I dare agree with David Perry that if you did your job right in every game and every time, you PROBABLY wanted to quit your job when things got harder. When you don’t quit you finish, when you finish you grow, when you grow you improve and so will your games! Read a long dedicated post about my opinion on how important Perseverance is here.
To put it simple, the person NEEDS to be able to deliver exceptional quality every time with the same results. Maybe one day they will MAX out the level and become godly? Overtime? Join the team! Work with them through the long hours! Little time? Doesn’t matter, they need to deliver on time! And I noticed a lot of producer forget CONTINGENCY plans! They need those things in place to become a reliable and awesome producer.
Keep the information to yourself, there are confidential information given to the person as a producer and you must respect it! Others must know that when they share something with you, you keep it to yourself! It can be business or private between you and someone else! You need all information to do your job right and ensure no unexpected problems arise.
As a producer you will realize people will come to you for guidance, solutions, opinion, wisdom, attention, facts, perspective, strength that you care about the people, the game, the teams and the company. Did you do a mistake? Share it! Be honest! It is an inspiration and it will remind them that even YOU can do mistakes! They will see that you admit you did wrong, apologize, grow from it and aim onwards like no tomorrow, it reminds them… “Ah, he too is human”. Embrace honesty and share your mistakes, never hide them!
Hard one! As the man aka producer your job is not to be friends with everyone, but your job is to show the path in game development process so everything becomes a success. Your role as a producer will attract criticism so accept and expect them! When someone does criticize you, pay attention as there is always something to learn and grow from. Use the feedback to increase your understanding and improve your methods or approach in things. Then I believe you will slowly taste success together with your team. IF someone says something that isn’t valuable, then ignore it and move on. Do not become defensive at ANY COST!
Show results! Finish something! It shows your ability to reach a goal! Create your own achievement system where you have to complete one everyday and before you know it you finished the game, as if you were in one.
Failure? No Fear!
Trying and failing is part of life, it isn’t failing so don’t be afraid of failing. According to many people the act of NOT trying is failure, what do you think? A lot of people have great chances to further their life but they choose not to grab it, because they are afraid the RISK of failure is too high, thus they never become GREAT but just good. Trying and failing will make you learn and grow, how do you think you learned as a kid? You didn’t listen when your parents told you not to do something, so you failed at LISTENING which in return had a CONSEQUENCE but it also made you LEARN. Failure is another way of getting close to success! Do not hesitate as you push the obstacles away with NO FEAR! Game development requires producer with NO FEAR!
If you added me on facebook or even twitter you might have noticed I bring up Integrity time to time. In this scenario as the producer your job is to solve something in an objective and positive way without taking sides, but still remaining professionally committed to the PROJECT! Make sure others believe in YOU and your INTEGRITY! Why? Once you have a real authentic reputation about your integrity it will stay with you for ages to come, for life.
People need someone who has faith in them, believes in them and wants to empower them. If you as the leader manage others to do their best work, they will respect you for it. The truth is that most people won’t be able to do a lot of the stuff at first, but if you remember that they will learn and improve greatly over time then there is a big chance they will develop super powers to accomplish things quicker and better. Let others achieve their dreams and you will be surprised about what they are capable of. It took me some time to realize that by giving up tasks, roles and responsibilities to others I empowered them to grow and freed me to lead better.
Taking initiative is the very fuel and ability to start something and follow a plan, task or whatever with a huge smile and strength. Taking initiative as a producer inspires and encourages others, you MUST be a GREAT example to follow. Being a producer aka leader is not for the weak minded, it just isn’t. As the producer you also represent your team, if you are lazy others will perceive your team to be equally or more lazy. The end result of a project is often a result of the producer, as the producer has the power to control the team spirit, collective and mindset. As a producer you MUST take the first move to solve a problem before it affects the development. There is never too little initiative!
It is like marriage I suppose? You make a promise to perform your duty and task. When you make such a move you make a statement about who you are and your belief. WHEN you finish your commitment to others, do what you said and follow through it will prove your commitment and strength behind your words. The commitment within you and the team illustrates the commitment of the company!
Every producer needs to know how to do SOME business as you want to leave the rest of the team to focus on development and what they are good at. Your job can be negotiating contracts, licenses, localization, tools, publishers or cooperation of some kind. You have to know this at ANY COST!
Lead by Example
Let us be honest, the basic concept of leadership is getting others to do what they might not want to do to achieve the results YOU want. You also have to show confidence to illustrate that your choices are the right choices. Whatever type of producer you are, you are going to need leadership. That is why you must lead be example and do whatever needs to be done as the Producer, which is normally schedule, budget, marketing plan or anything that is required to get the team started towards the right direction. It also means that you stick to your COMMITMENT to the team and REWARD them for finishing the tasks. Decision making is also your job and you need to have made up a choice so the team can continue their work. It is NOT the teams job to make decision it is YOUR JOB! And I hate to break it for you but as the producer/leader you do MORE than what you ask of others. By being THE EXAMPLE you set a STANDARD of what is expected. While you are doing all this you need to show what you expect of everyone, offer support, demonstrate that you care, being around to make it all happen because it shows that passion and commitment.
By having a common vision everyone has something to relate to and aim towards. It is normally the vision that gets everyone through the challenges ahead of them. Everything starts with a VISION!
Believe in your game, concept, choices, direction and vision. The very act of showing this to the team is all about being a producer. You need to be a virus that spreads passion and belief! You need to keep it all burning all the way to completion!
A positive attitude might be the very key to being a good producer, why? When you are doing game development you will face problems, issues and challenges every day. I have worked on many other industries and the frustrations to near catastrophically issues that come up are not comparable in my experience. With the positive attitude it becomes much easier to solve the problems, it improves productivity and quality of the work. Also, everyone loves happy person! So spread the positive attitude along with the passion! Make it burn!
One of the greatest weakness I have noticed other leaders/producers have is the ability to follow through. If you cant follow through then I guarantee your team will loose confidence and you will not make it in the long term.
As you may know it is quite easy to criticize someone for their mistakes, the best approach before you do criticize is to ask clear questions. In most cases the person thought they did what was expected until you ask clear questions and reveal that there as a misunderstanding. If you use such an approach you will gain more respect.
If ANYONE has a large ego they will most likely fail to recognize someone for their contributions. This makes things very dangerous and also the producers job very difficult and unpleasant. Don’t pay attention to what others think about you, just do your job and be consistent with your actions. They will respect you for this.
Being professional is very important, especially to outsiders. You shouldn’t show that you are worried or in doubt let along take anything personally.
The producer is the motivator and encourager, he must give more then anyone else towards the team and the team goals. I can assure you that the minute you don’t show enthusiasm for the goal, the project, the game, the team, the company, and your role in it…things will fall a part. So be contagious with your enthusiasm. The producer is the very sun that shines brightly to keep everyone going. The producer must believe where he is going!
It is quite common that things are filled with indecision in the game industry. It doesn’t matter if your decision is wrong or right, you just have to make sure your are firm and decisive! The quicker the producer makes a choice the quicker the team can make progress. If you are the producer and you are being slow, it literally affects everyone on the project. In some cases it makes drama and people might even leave.
Fun and Laugh
For the love of god, make sure you are having fun while doing this. Laugh and spread the joy but make sure you do not use sarcasm or indirect humor as it doesn’t work well with many people. (Source: Fatcow Games)