How FF gets massive hit in last 4 years, how I operate the high-performance team from scratch

this FF game ain’t Fin — Fan — y. It’s more likely well-known as PU-G copycat.

Garena World 2018, picture taken by me

Building a high-performance team requires effort from every-single-one in the team.

We growth from 4 to 40 headcounts in 2 years of operation. We had been through chaos of miscommunications and misdirection. Therefore, with technology helps, we conquers, we stands out, we outperforms competitors, and become number 1 game in Thailand. By the term of high-performance team, the team is not built by just hiring top-notch employees out there or rotate veterans from other teams but by putting the great team culture with great infrastructure. 95% of this team are new joiners.

we, all, understand this meme

We are bounded by memes and khao-mun-kai (Chicken Rice)

The last interview question I’ve always asked candidates is “What is your favorite food?” The food determines candidates’ culture, lifestyle, and team engagement. If the team you are building is going lunch separately, surely this is not a good sign. Especially when no one invite leader to join their table.

To build a great culture, we need shared interests. Such as type of anime do they like, how is their sense of humor, what is the game they playing recently. The picture I want to see is my team grouping together doing the same social activities, laughing, and invite me to join. So the hiring process is crucial, and I nailed it in different way compared to other companies’ interview.

One Infrastructure is enough.

We were overwhelming by bunch of Google Sheets comes with Excel files, Trello tasks assigned to everyone in sudden, tons of chat apps (Line, Whatsapp, WeChat, QQEnterprise, SEATalk, or even facebook chat) causing us tough time to handle it all, and it was leading us to miscommunication issues.

My mission is unify all of them into one-for-all infrastructure with 3 vital traits:

  1. Low learning-curve: even your grandmother can understand the process.
  2. Transparent to anyone: having someone watch over their shoulder is not really bad idea when it comes to get rid of miscommunication issues.
  3. Lowest cost: there are many SaaS out there, we were looking for something that can serve 40 headcounts with lowest cost as possible.

The chosen one was Atlassian Jira, not Jira Software that developers know so well but Jira Business (used to called ‘Jira Core’ or nowadays as ‘Jira Work Management)

I will write a blog about how to customize from scratch to solve the team issue once and for all. And will post the link here.

However, we go back to the operation management principle since 5000 B.C.

nothing fancy, right?

The Input(s)

The problem is we have too many inputs.
Every instant messaging counts, email counts, word-of-mouth counts.
So we setup the rule.

Step 1: every thing comes and goes by me, the Scrum Master

I don’t describe how or what is the Scrum Master do in this blog. In short, he is doing as a gate, a single point of contact. Anything anyone wants my team do just have to come to me first and I will delegate through Jira Workflow which I setup carefully with every team members.

Step 2: all you have to do each day is check your dashboard

No more underhand assignments. Everything that is not shown in Jira Dashboard isn’t consider a task to be done.

Step 3: any adhoc come through me, and only me

I hate adhoc tasks. Apparently, if you understand the word ‘Scrum’ enough, adhoc is true enemy of Agile culture. It can easily postpone sprint, meaning you have to work late hour with something that might not useful for the product and has no value-added. I decided to take advantage as a master-of-all who can do anything from caption writing, video editing, or even coding to get rid of adhoc making sure it’s not interrupt my team.

There, we have filtered out the inputs.

The Process

Thanks to Jira architecture that every task can be assigned to only 1 people (and it can not be customized.) It means only one person can execute that work. As the rule said, everyone have to look at their dashboard, so it surely that the task has someone responsible to. I customized the workflow making every tasks won’t be unassigned, it will lead to project lead, function lead, or me.

The tasks are going along with the workflow I setup with the team, autonomously.

The Output(s)

Thanks to Jira again that we can customized who will be responsible at the bottom line. When every tasks pass by the process and get approval. There is the one who waiting to put an end to the job.

What if someone wants to change the output, well, it must passed the output-man permission to start over the process again. Not every request passed the judgement, even it comes from the upper bosses, because they have to respect what the team doing and their time spending onto it. Unless that guy can proves that changes can make more than 100% significant change in KPIs (or OKRs)

picture from GamingDose, but created by us

Set the clear target with catchy phases

It’s easy to create OKRs or KPIs but it’s hard to communicate that to colleagues. The easy way to get the team together is making one catchy phases to the mission handed to them.

For example, “Play for Free and let’s Fire” contains the messages that:

  • the game is free to play
  • the game is ready to be download and enjoy
  • the game is shooting genre

For the purpose of marketing awareness and retention. And it’s very successful!

Do 1:1 or many:1 as much as possible

I like some company where the leaders set the calendar appointment for everyone on 1:1 session which can be occurred or not depending on the employees, not the boss. It is indirect message to them that “I open to talk” which I applied this lesson into “Friday chit-chat” that anyone can come up to me with any problems, anything they want to tell. And I help them solve the problem. It’s really worth of time and strengthen the team culture.

In Agile, this can be called ‘retrospective’ session.

I’d put all the problems in google slides to remind me to solve every week. Instead of putting on to Jira dashboard which something might be private.
Sometimes I solved the issue and put the slide into the lesson to teach them about again.

There will be part II, an extended one, for this blog as they are so many details I didn’t put in because it will be hard to digest them all. But I think you might learn how the high-performance team looks like, and hope this may inspire you to create your dream team.

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People might laugh at it or call it foolish logic, but that’s enough for me. That’s what romanticism is about!

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Thongchan Thananate

Thongchan Thananate

People might laugh at it or call it foolish logic, but that’s enough for me. That’s what romanticism is about!

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