Patience, Failure and Angry Birds

OK, I’ll admit it: I still play Angry Birds. And I still like it. Unlike some games, which require only luck, or only persistence, Angry Birds has taught me some interesting thinking patterns that apply to daily life.

Angry-Birds-HD-Wallpaper1. What’s the point, here, really? Different game sections in Angry Birds demand different strategies. Some require using the least number of birds to complete the game, others give more points for collapsing more of the scenery. You won’t get three stars until you figure out the underlying winning factor.

That’s also true of clients and your supervisor at work. Different supervisors (or clients) have different goals and ways they like to tackle goals. Your star will rise and fall based on your ability to figure  out if you are being asked to think like the leader or supply a coordinating tactic.

Angry-Birds2. Practice is similar to failure, and it’s a step to winning. Part of the thrill of Angry Birds is figuring out how to use each bird to its best advantage. That isn’t always obvious. Sometimes firing the bird at the closest object seems to make sense. Other times, topping a structure in the middle causes a collapse of all the surrounding structures more effectively. But you don’t know that unless you try. In Angry Birds, failure is a step in success. It’s a learning step, and in real life we call it practice.

Practice is almost non-existent in the business model, except in a few industries such as software development and science). For creative folks, it’s an absolute necessity. If one thing doesn’t work, it’s important to figure out why and try something else. Problem solving can’t be left to computer models alone. Computer models are programmed with what we already know.

Angry-Birds3. You have to know what the bird does to use it. The little round red birds don’t do much, but they can weaken a structure. The yellow ones get a burst of speed when you tell them to, but timing is everything. The orange ones expand, which is useful only if they are in a tight spot. The Tucan-like ones reverse course, but often not the way you want them to.

Use your strength in the right way. If you hate any type of confrontation, you may not be best at negotiating.  If you are very intuitive, you may not be good at research to prove your points. It’s good to learn what you don’t know, of course, but half of being smart is knowing what you are bad at and not leading with that.

—Quinn McDonald learns slowly, so she learns anyway she can.