Soft Skills Please! The importance of management training

John Nash

John Nash, Art Manager, Blitz Games Studios

My Thoughts

This talk explained Blitz’s academy in a compact 15 minutes. All from how it started to how it’s turned out with some interesting figures. Things flew by, I missed bits and pieces, and as he said there are more detailed articles online. The probably topic altered a bit from the original title – I noted the subtitle below, and his Gamasutra article on this at the end.


Training as a Productivity Multiplier

About training – Blitz has internal training. Training in general in the games industry is done every day on the job. It’s very ad-hoc, so Blitz wanted to formalise it about 2 ½ years ago. One big reason to do this is the maturing of the industry – “invest in your people!”

Sources for training could be from anywhere – external, in-house, conferences (GDC, WIGC!), look for convergent skills (ie; steal people from other industries like the film industry).

Hard and Soft skills – content creation vs. communication and management. Training the different disicplines, some differences were found very very fast:

Artists – Brilliant at teaching and learning.
Programmers – Hate teaching, love learning
Designers – love to teach, hate to listen and learn!

Need commitment from EVERYONE! (in the company!) and the logistics need to be thought about – time consuming, infrastructure. They setup The Blitz Academy – has a secondary role of talking to academics too.

Need to identify the needs and trainers – look at the project schedules to find out what they need, and look at the generation change (all the hardware changes, hard, painful!) and get the gurus in the company to train.

Delivering the training – build modules from templates. How do you deliver it? Academy room (using working hours), e-Learning (self directed, 24 hour access), and One-to-One, and homework.

Internal vs. External costs – not just money, althoguh external is expesive, it needs to be bespoke – so don’t be wasteful.

Blitz trains a lot – 27 modules delivered to 268 people, 22 new modules in the pipeline, in areas of technical, creative and soft skills.

Costs a lot – 180K / no of people / working days = £3.50/day, a lot!

However, example course was measured before and after – achieved a 22% productivity increase. Justifies the cost. The academy spreads the cost across the company too.

Justifying it – Training ROI. Effective, Efficient, Applicable, Appropriate, Timely – 5 measures of training Provision. You can write a very positive report of it.

Then what are the benefits from it all? All the costs?
– Improved efficiency & productivity
– Skills levelling & sharing effect – everyone is at a certain minimum level for management
– Better communication & team cohesion – everyone knows what everyone else knows, especially in the art teams
– Improved moral
– Stronger team structure
– Better risk management

In the end all this helps women in the games, since it allows them easier access to the industry.

Check out Gamasutra for a longer article on this stuff, by the presenter (was only a 15 minute presentation – usually an hour).

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