Like it or not, Pokemon Go is here to stay. You may not have played it yourself (yet), although there is no doubt you have interacted with one of its devotees walking slowly around the neighbourhood, heads bowed in quiet reverence to the Pikachu leader. This new player in the gaming market has certainly divided communities and instigated numerous heated discussions and the way that leaders respond to it provides a very deep insight into their leadership capability.
During the delivery of recent leadership workshops, the topic of Pokemon Go has tended to arise. The reaction to the mere mention of the game’s name instantly throws people opinions to either end of the love it or hate it continuum. Which is very interesting. Most of the time, those who despise the mere thought of the game have never actually seen or played it. More to the point, they don’t even understand it.
Although in regards to the impact on your leadership, whether you enjoy the game or not is irrelevant. The way you respond to the game being in our community is highly relevant.
Love it or hate it, Pokemon Go is a game changer. It has disrupted the way we think and interact in the gaming world (even the real world). It is not going away. There is no doubt there will be similar and better versions on the horizon (i.e. there is a Harry Potter version launching soon). Leaders that categorically dismiss the game and its impact, may be at a disadvantage to those that don’t.
This disadvantage may not come in the form of direct interaction between their organisation and the game, rather closing down opportunities that may arise through interaction with the community playing the game. If a leader quickly disregards Pokemon Go without ANY investigation or consideration, what else are they disregarding that may positively impact on the organisation's development? If a leader tends to quickly disregard new ideas, they will tend to do that in all similar situations.
There are multiple examples of people that have thought about Pokemon Go and investigated how it could impact positively on the development of their organisation and people. Cafés around the world have ‘lured’ customers to their cafes and increased business by 25%, parents have significantly increased their children’s physical activity levels, McDonald’s in Japan, through sponsorship, have Pokemon ‘Gyms’ at all their restaurants that not only draw crowds but keep them there for long periods of time. Therapists have used the game as a strategy for alleviating anxiety symptoms in sufferers and educators have successfully implemented the game into school and university curricula. All of these strategies would not have occurred if people were not willing to investigate the new and unknown.
Leaders do not have to like or want to play this new game. Although the strategy of disregarding it outright is a strategy that may occur across multiple situations where new ideas or concepts are introduced, thus reducing the opportunity for organisations to grow.