How Magic: the Gathering Unleashed Our Collaboration Mana

By Staff Writer on June 29, 2015
Magic Card Image for article on Agile Creating Collaboration

One of the behind-the-scenes themes at ChannelNet that makes working here fun is our love of Magic: the Gathering, a tabletop card game for adults. It’s practically become a standard interview question—we know if someone mentions the game during an interview that the person (we are hiring) will more than likely be a good fit.

Our Chief Technology Officer Dave Boisvenu thinks the playful element of Magic is cool but he feels the mana in our secret sauce comes from Agile development and its ability to empower staff.

For those of you unfamiliar with Magic’s game strategy and tactics, this video intro sets the tone.

Video excerpt: Magic is power. It has the ability to create and destroy. Manipulate and transform. It can shatter the laws that govern each world. With all their mastery over their craft, each mages (player) is bound to their own planes of reality. Blind to the true vastness of the multiverse.

The multiverse of Magic is much like our work world. In our multiverse, we believe Agile development is the magic. It is powerful. It has the ability to create one team from many players and destroy the misperceptions and natural tensions that typically exist between the various disciplines such as user experience, development, creative and quality assurance. Every day we see our staff deepen its understanding of the different disciplines it takes to create a great customer experience.

Article Image-Dave Boisvenu-Agile Development Quote

Agile principles transform and break down internal silos. The empowerment and spirit of teamwork broke down the walls in our company, ones that exist in most companies. Departments by their very nature tend to create their own planes of reality, just like in the game. It is easy to tell yourself stories about why someone doesn’t understand what you do or why something should, or should not, be done a certain way,” says Boisvenu.

Article image-Chris Sims-Agile Development Quote

Conflict is inevitable and is positive. Different points of view serve to make a solution better. So do not think that Agile development creates a fantasyland at ChannelNet. It does not. What Agile does is provide a framework for managing and voicing different opinions in an open way. This is one of the keys to promoting innovation, according to Jim Kling, Harvard Business Review contributor and science writer.

Article Image-Renee Triemstra-Agile Development Quote

“It was inspiring to watch individuals from different disciplines add a little Magic to the Agile cards we use for planning and estimating,” shares Renee Triemstra, vice president of strategy and customer experience. “Chris Sims, one of our lead architects, and Jordan Patchak, our UX/UI Manager, came up with the idea. Touches like these inject a level of fun at work for all of us. This ultimately benefits our projects and our clients.”

Article Image-Jordan Patchak-Agile development quote

Sims and Patchak’s innovative idea is a great example of how empowering employees and fostering self-governance promotes creativity. Empowerment is the mana (the energy source for Magic: the Gathering) of creating innovative solutions.

Besides improved teamwork and empowering employees, there are numerous benefits to Agile development such as faster development, increased quality and fewer launch issues.

“The Agile aspect you cannot put a price on is creativity, which translates into surprise and delight for our client’s customers,” stresses Triemstra. “It is the ultimate mana.”

For more on agile, read ‘An Agile Response Requires Agile Marketing.’


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