New Super Mario Bros. Wii was released by Nintendo in 2009.
A remake of Super Mario Bros. from 1985. The first few screens of the first level are arranged in deliberate mimicry of the same screens from the 1985 version.
You might have childhood flashback. Move from left to right, jump over the green turtle, go down the pipe. Fun times!
There is one key difference in the 2009 version.
A big sign with an arrow telling the player which direction to go.
Why do players now need a sign telling them where to go?
In 1985 game design was so simple, it was "obvious" what the player needed to do.
Today games are far from simple. There are endless options that. player could take.
This story is taken from Game Design Vocabulary by Anna Anthropy and Naomi Clark.
It introduces a key principle for organisation design.
Don't design in the sign.
Most leaders find themselves adding signs. Directions telling people where to go and what to do.
A great example is return to work. Schedules are created, instruction manuals on how to return, what health checks to do.
We are bombarded with organisational "signs".
What would a 1985 organisation design look like?
One where the behaviours are obvious.
Something I explore further in Atomic Habits for Organisations.
So next time you are designing an organisation, consider this:
What would Super Mario do?