April 13, 2007

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Battleship Game Mirrors Innovation Strategies

I was playing Battleship online with a friend from New York last night (imagine Gears of War, but for old folks with no hand-eye co-ordination). And as we chatted away the pattern of my game strategy suddenly struck a chord.

I would drop bombs pretty much randomly around the board until I hit one of my opponent's ships. Then I would concentrate my bombs around that square, applying a little logic based on the probable shape and orientation of the ship I think I'd hit, until it was completey destroyed. Then I'd go back to random bombing until I hit another ship.

Where had I seen this strategy before? It occured to me that it might mirror the processes of exploratory and exploitative innovation. When I'm not quite sure what's out there, I explore the board by dropping randomly dispersed bombs. When I get a lucky break, I exploit it by keeping my bombs close to the one that revealed the target.

In product development, we might drop our bombs randomly to explore the marketplace. When we get a positive reaction to one of our ideas, we might focus our efforts around that idea, creating variants and effectively "milking it" for all it's worth.

The trick may be in knowing when to explore and when to exploit.
Posted 15 years, 6 months ago on April 13, 2007