What’s in a vision statement?

Earlier this month I set aside some time to reflect on our Q1 performance (January-March), and I ran into some familiar, nagging, questions: What are we doing? Where are we going? Why do we make games? How do I know what types of games I want to make? Are there other things I should be doing that would be a better use of my time?

The questions weren’t new, and I’ve been wrestling with them on and off for a while. It was time to answer them once and for all and in the process develop a vision for the future of Fink & Fink Games. Our goal is to build a long-term sustainable business, not just to launch a new game. And a vision can act like a guiding light.  It becomes the sieve through which we can filter ideas.

I’ve discovered that when you are working on your own, there’s no shortage of potentially viable ideas that pop into your head:

  • I love camping. Should I start a YouTube channel dedicated to it?
  • Should we host a free print-and-play version of Marital Bliss on our website?
  • Should we look into buying a second property to rent to supplement our income?
  • Should we make a more traditional type of boardgame? 
  • I wrote a draft of kid’s book, should I self-publish it for some extra money?

It’s hard to answer these questions and to know if you’re on the right path if you haven’t stopped to figure out where you want to go. When you’ve taken the time to create a vision it becomes much easier to sort the good ideas from the chaff.

What did our vision creation process look like?

It started with setting aside some time for general reflection and self-analyzation. At some point during this time I remembered the popular work of Simon Sinek and his “Golden Circle” theory, and revisited it. If you haven’t seen his 2010 presentation on YouTube, it’s worth a view. He followed this up with a book titled Start with Why.

https://www.pngjoy.com/fullpng/f5p9q3e4h8k9t3/

In full disclosure – I’m typically a skeptic when it comes to motivational speakers like Mr. Sinek. In previous corporate environments, his theory always fell flat for me, both because:

A – I had no real influence over the company culture, and…
B – My personal “why” statement was usually “to make enough money so that I can go do something else,” which Mr. Sinek warns isn’t a very good “why” statement.

But now, both of those things have changed. So I decided to take his advice, and build a “why” statement to serve as our vision. I started by answering those questions nagging at me:

  • What are we doing? Where are we going? – I want to make things that help people have fun, positive experiences. There’s more than enough negativity in the world already.
  • Why do I want to make games? – I’m fascinated with the intrinsic value and importance of “play” in society. Here’s some interesting quotes from an article in 2016… keep in mind, this was before the pandemic gave us all nervous breakdowns.
  • How do I know what types of games I want to make? – I think “games” and “play” have a lot of untapped opportunities to help people connect with each other in meaningful ways.
  • Are there other things I should be doing that would be a better use of my time? – With my skill-set, and the areas where I’m interested in learning and improving, this feels like the best place for me to focus.

Interestingly, this time none of these bullets ended up being “make a crapload of money.” Score one point for Mr. Sinek.

It’s pretty clear how having these new insights can make work feel more meaningful, add clarity to the direction we want to go, and ensure the integrity of the games we make… but getting back to the money part… without a path towards profitability, the venture won’t be sustainable. Mr. Sinek puts those items into the “How” and “What” portions of his circle, which are also important, so important that he says that’s where most businesses ONLY focus.

The next step, after revealing this new level of clarity, was to synthesize all those bullets into something shorter and easier to remember. Something that we’ll be able to pull up and reflect on when we need to. I ended up with:

To make games that create fun environments where players connect and relate to each other in personal, meaningful, positive ways.

Putting the vision to work.

OK, I’m already appreciating the additional clarity gained from having a defined vision, so let’s test it out and put it to work. Let’s see if it clears up some of the ideas that I mentioned earlier…

  • I love camping. Should I start a YouTube channel dedicated to it? – Nope. Might be a good idea, but would be a huge distraction from the things I said I most wanted to do.
  • Should we host a free print-and-play version of Marital Bliss on our website? – Yep. (Coming soon… email us if you want it now.)
  • Should we look into buying a second property to rent to supplement our income? – Nope. Probably works for a lot of people, but I won’t enjoy managing it.
  • Should we make a more traditional type of board game? – Hmmm. This one is harder to answer, but I don’t think so. Our vision includes making games that help people relate on a “personal” and “meaningful” level, and while I do love some Catan, that game isn’t designed to facilitate personal and meaningful connections and conversations.
  • I wrote a draft of kid’s book, should I self-publish it to try and make some extra money? – Again, might be a good idea, but see bullet #1.
So is it done?

Probably not. I love to tinker. The overall integrity feels right to me, and it is pretty timeless. It aligns with Marital Bliss, which launched in 2013, and it aligns with the game(s) we’re making now. I expect we’ll make adjustments in the future, but hopefully they’ll be more like tweaks and not seismic shifts.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Anything we missed in the vision statement?

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