Fallout 4 is the year’s best business tool—and here’s why
If you or someone you love counts among the many millions of proud new owners of Fallout 4, you may have heard or said something along these lines: “Great. There goes my productivity.” Sometimes this is said mournfully, sometimes gleefully; regardless, the prevailing thought is that your time would be better spent devouring an inspirational business book or listening to a quotable TED talk.
When I polled the office about books that made a professionally relevant impact on readers, a prevailing theme was clear: inspiration, education and reflection can all stem from unlikely sources, maligned genres and neglected platforms. The Martian was the most-cited book—and not for Red Planet escapism, but for pragmatic lessons about project management and collaboration.
The post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4 is full of lessons for pre-apocalyptic businesses.
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“What are they thinking?!?” (Take the time to actually find out.)
The Fallout universe, like our own universe, is full of questionable people doing questionable things for questionable reasons. It’s worth actually asking the question, though. Sometimes apparent villains or incompetent collabohaters have methods—or at least good intentions—behind their madness. Give people a chance to explain themselves.
On the other side of the divide, don’t assume that someone who is on “your side” shares all of your goals, intentions, or ideas on how to move forward. Having a candid discussion early can prevent arriving at an awkward crossroads later.
Say yes and welcome the unexpected
Calculating risk/reward is a challenge in the real world; that’s less the case in games, in which you typically know that if you accomplish x, you will receive y. In both cases, though, there are a lot of unforeseen benefits and happy accidents that come along with being a team player. Helping people seldom puts you in a worse position. Helping someone find an autographed baseball while you’re in the middle of trying to save the world? Sounds dumb, sure. But even a dubious-seeming project can result in some surprise tangents or discoveries. That being said…
Prioritization: a matter of life or death
As your Fallout 4 network expands, you become sort of a product manager, a professional juggler of priorities and fire drills and sometimes completely conflicting missions. You can’t accomplish it all. Sometimes you won’t launch as many campaigns or defend as many settlements as you hoped.
Specialists vs. jacks of all trade
It’s hard to survive the wasteland on your own if you’re entirely reliant on brains or brawn. Most survivors rely on a blend of intelligence, creativity, charisma and, sure, being handy with a missile launcher.
If you’re putting a team together, though, it’s perfectly fine to lean on the less well-rounded. Three years ago, Steve Hall considered whether agencies would abandon specialists in favor of so-called T-shaped or pi-shaped talent. They haven’t. You shouldn’t, either.
Appearances still matter
Even in a darned nuclear holocaust, your persuasiveness as a negotiator and collaborator is subtly influenced by your choice of hat or style of glasses. Post-apocalyptic does not, alas, mean post-fashion police. And as Jill Coody Smits previously pointed out, the biggest effect of our business attire may be the psychological effect on ourselves. Putting on your work gear—whether it’s a lab coat, a favorite T, or fortified power armor—likely gives you a boost, whether you realize it or not.
You have your own issues, buddy
You learn about yourself by how you react to adversity, even fictional adversity. While mostly operating in a moral-as-possible manner, I reserved my wrath for murderers, kidnappers and… villagers who rudely said they didn’t want to talk to me?! If I play by my gut, I have to admit that my gut sometimes overreacts. Perhaps this is a lesson that I should show a little more restraint and perspective when someone tells me they are too busy to be polite.
Just to be safe, though, anyone who’s ever emailed me “k” or “?” should steer clear of me when the apocalypse comes.