Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Priorities vs Values

  Shortly before I was promoted to Sergeant while in the Army, I was told many things to prepare me, but one thing that was especially reiterated over and over was the Sergeant's Motto: "Mission First, Soldiers Always". It was also strongly stated that the two never contradicted each other. Never would any NCO ever have to decide between accomplishing a mission or valuing their soldiers.

  This took time for me to understand. I don't take well to arguments from authority, so I just had to see for myself. Over the four years I was a Sergeant, I never had to choose, and neither did I ever see, or even hear about any other NCO having to choose. That's just me and my observation, though. How, then, can I really know it's true?

  The difference in the wording. The mission comes first, i.e. it is prioritized. Soldiers are always cared for, i.e. they are valued. There is an important distinction between a priority and a value, and I've found it best to explain through illustration.

  Consider all the things you might do before walking out the front door to go to work in the morning: Eating breakfast, showering, shaving, brushing teeth, checking e-mail, etc. These are priorities. If you are running a bit late, you start to skip some items, because being on time for work is prioritized over checking e-mail or eating breakfast. However, there is one thing we all do before walking out the front door every morning: We put clothes on. We value modesty. Values don't get set aside when priorities are reassessed.

  There are many applications for this distinction, in all walks of life. Valuing employees is a natural reapplication. Valuing principles is another. Many companies have mission statements and core values of their own. Many I've seen are amalgamations of trendy buzz-words and catch-phrases. Not all are, however.

  Blizzard's core values are:
  • Gameplay First
  • Commitment to Quality
  • Play Nice, Play Fair
  • Embrace Your Inner Geek
  • Every Voice Matters
  • Think Globally
  • Lead Responsibly
  • Learn and Grow
  I observe that it's not a numbered list. They are, I strongly suspect, mutually supporting. One is not above any other. Gameplay First " make our games as fun as possible for as many people as we can reach" is supported by Every Voice Matters "Great ideas can come from anywhere."

  I say all this to show that Blizzard already cares about diversity. Perhaps it isn't obvious to those who walk the fun house mirror maze of "Social Justice", but to those who seek out real diversity, i.e difference of opinion or experience, Blizzard has that in great supply. There's certainly ways in which they can improve (Learn and Grow), but my point is that the company is on the right track. Each misstep along the way can be blown way out of proportion by professional umbrage takers, but if the majority of voices are rational, honest expressions, rather than fits of self-righteous indignation, the dialogue can be constructive and everyone gains. The community and the company both can grow bigger and better, and the game can improve. We are already going in the right direction.

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