Are You Playing The Bear Grylls Exploration Game ?


Accidents on big mountains happen when people’s ambitions cloud their good judgment. Good climbing is about climbing with heart and with instinct, not ambition and pride.

– Bear Grylls

Hey Guys,

I have a secret to tell you, I really love games, Dont we all?. But I’m no longer the type to disappear for 2-3 weeks while I try to clock story mode, and then conquer the multiplayer world (but I use to be). What really draws me to a great game is the story and the game mechanics, It makes me instantly “buy-in” and has me gripped and focused on the game, The;

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Strategies
  • Goals
  • Tactics
  • Objectives

That I absolutely must utilise and complete in the most efficient and effective manner – to be the BEST.

My friend Dan G who is an awesome Information Architect,  has done a deep dive into realm of Game Mechanics and their ability to influence human behaviour – This is so evident in this video here, from the “Indie Game – The Movie”

Often we don’t appreciate how these mechanics are playing a role in our lives today, or even how companies utilise these simple concepts for their success

what does this all have to do with Business Architecture you say? Read on to find out


The Bear Grylls Exploration Game?

Rules: The game is simple, get from one side of the house to the other without touching the floor

Actors: in this story;

  • Craig – Mentor and Coach
  • Son
  • Daughter

There is this game that Craig often like to plays with his children (son and daughter), called, affectionately call the Bear Grylls exploration game. What it entails is an activity where we traverse the house from one side to the other without touching the floor. The aim is to use whatever assets we can lay our hands on to move the three of us to our end goal, with the ever present incentive of a chocolate ice cream or some or other tantalising motivator being used as the carrot.

Craig has used the Bear Grylls exploration game to run a few “scenarios” with his kids. One of these scenarios entails allowing either his son or daughter to lead. The leader gets the responsibility of understanding the visionary and strategic aspects, whilst the follower gets the responsibility of the tactical aspects. You guessed it, a business motivation model for kids, from vision right down to the tactics. What’s interesting in this exercise is the different responses Craig get from his two children. His daughter is highly tactical, she prefers only looking a short distance ahead and understanding how to take the next step, preferring to live for the here and now and not concern herself for the future challenges half way down the hall. His son on the other hand is much more strategic in his thinking and prefers to understand the entire route and challenge so he can develop a mental roadmap of the journey. Sometimes, however, his tactical choices to achieve these goals are questionable – “son, you can’t stand on the dog’s back”.  Craig has tried a few scenarios of swapping their roles around and have had some interesting results, one of which is that strategic thinking can indeed be taught, it’s not a “birth right”.

Perhaps Craig’s most interesting scenario, and the one most relevant to this discussion is when Craig neglects to give his son and daughter any form of motivation model, but allows them instead to trundle along with only a vision statement of sorts. For individuals like Craig’s son, who is comfortable with this situation, he chooses a fail fast style of journey. Craig’s daughter on the other hand is not comfortable with this method and loses confidence. Instead she chooses to simply tag along behind her brother and just accept instructions from him, thereby not adding the value that she could to the adventure, and herself not enjoying the journey.

In this type of situation Craig finds that 3 hours of playtime evaporates very quickly into very little productivity and often just a lot of delays and confusion. This is equivalent to management trying to motivate staff without having given them a well thought out and structured motivation model.

Does this sound familiar?

Pillars of Business Architecture

The purpose that the story is trying to demonstrate is that one of the key pillars of the business architecture discipline is to have an understanding of the motivational aspects of the business and then to look for the means to help you achieve these. This is done through;

  • Understanding what Capabilities are at your disposal
  • How you can best mix Capabilities to achieve the desired outcomes.

The problem in most organisations, is that the motivation is either insufficiently communicated, or incorrectly contextualised to individuals, divisions, projects and vendors. This has a cascading effect within your organisation and commonly results in duplication, overlaps and wasted effort resulting in a loss of coherency. Therefore one of the first places to start with in the business architecture discipline is to have a consistent framework for the capture, presentation and communication of business motivation within the organisation.

Consulting with a Business Architect , will go a long way in stopping fragmentation occurring, within the planning disciplines of your organisation empowring your organisation to understanding how to drive success.



Special thanks to Craig Martin, for his story and continuous value add to the business architecture community

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s