A follow-up to Building a Prosperous Career with the Saint in Scarlet
Wingspan is a competitive board game about bird watching. During the course of the game, you collect food resources to tempt rare birds into entering your habitat in order to generate more points than your competitors, or as some people call them. Friends.
Right place, right time.
I’ve been playing board games like this for the past decade. However, this is the first of its kind that really opened my eyes to the life path of a business. Visually demonstrating to me a new way of viewing my business.
Honestly, you could put it down to a right, place; right time kind of deal. Since the pandemic was coming to a close, I was able to perform in person as a magician again in my local area of Norwich. After a brief period of success, I was able to spend money on things other than business development. (I was trying to avoid this)
I decided to pick up this game as I’d finally be able to play board games in person again. Overall it’s a great game with lots of choices and variety. Well worth the investment for the entertainment value alone.
However, the real value I got from it was a perfect model of how to push my business forward.
In order to understand what I mean. You are first going to need to know roughly how the game works.
How to play Wingspan
If you really want to get in deep and learn how to play the game, you can do so here.
However, you don’t need to understand every rule to garner some gold nuggets of knowledge. You just need a quick overview.
Wingspan is played over four rounds, each round you have a number of actions you can do. In the first round, you have eight actions to spend. Every subsequent round you lose one of your actions.
There are three kinds of resources in the game, Food, Eggs & Bird Cards.
Additionally, there are four kinds of action you can take. You can generate food, eggs, and cards and finally, you can play bird cards. You need to balance out these resources in order to win the game.
Bird cards are the primary way you score points, the player with the most points wins at the end of the game. Each bird card has a habitat it can be played in, a cost to play and a point value. Some bird cards have abilities.
The Action Economy of Wingspan
Wingspan is an engine builder, as you progress through the game your previously played cards make each action you take more powerful. Let’s look at one of the simplest resources in the game, food.
At the start of the game, when you take a food action you generate one food resource. However, for every bird, you have in your forest habitat (There is one habitat for each resource type) you generate more food. As discussed each bird needs food to be spent to play it, so the more food you have the better.
This works the same for each resource, at the start the “Draw bird card” action only lets you draw one card, as the game progresses you draw more cards for each bird you have in the water habitat. Having more cards is great because if you don’t have any bird cards in your hand you can’t play more birds.
Finally, this works the same for eggs, at the start of the game, the “lay eggs on birds” action only lets you take two eggs, as the game progresses the more birds you have in the grass habitat, the more eggs you get. Eggs must be spent to have more than one bird in a habitat.
As you can see each of these resources feeds into each other, as the game progresses you’ll need more food, more eggs and more cards. If you ignore one of these resources your whole bird-watching operation could fall behind your friends.
Applying Wingspan to the real world
Any engine-building board game could be used as a model for business development. What sets wingspan apart for me is a tiny mechanic mention briefly in the how-to-play section of this article.
“Every subsequent round you lose one of your actions” This aspect paired with the nature of engine building perfectly captures the reality of successful business management. At the start of the game, at the start of our business; there is so much that needs to be done. We have all the time in the world to attend to this massive task, but every increment of our time pushes things forward only slightly.
Instead of one action, letting us draw a single card. Our real-world counterpart spends a day generating a single lead.
The actions spent on gaining food is replaced with a day producing resources that your client needs, be it your product, service or something else entirely.
Our eggs are replaced with the constant improvements we need to make outside of these core interactions, the development of our website, research into new techniques. All the background work that allows your business to scale further forward.
There are some easy lessons right here. All of these actions need to done in balance. If all you do is background work, you just end up with a bunch of eggs and no birds. There will be no cards on the board and your business has no visibility. No points.
You always want to draw cards before you gain food, otherwise, you don’t know what sort of food your birds will need. Equally, you want to find clients before you create a product. Otherwise, you might make a product no one needs.
However, you must be able to meet the demand of your client. Be ready to create the right quantity of resources for your client’s needs. So you at least need to be ready to produce something.
Every single aspect of your business needs to scale equally and feed into each other. Which is really easy to do if you are able to see what is going on.
The best way to see what this is to measure data. By measuring data you will have a visual of the top performing aspects of your business. You will immediately see where you are succeeding and where you are failing.
Lessons for the future
The real eye-opener for me was the relationship between the loss of actions across the rounds. As well as the rise in power of said actions. The same effect should happen to any successful business.
As each of these tasks is repeated we should be getting better at them. Creating more efficient systems. Our business should scale, allowing us to gain more traction. Resulting in us either being forced to spend less time on these tasks because we are so busy. Alternatively, we don’t need to spend as much time on these tasks. As we are now more effective at accomplishing them.
This knowledge was massively transformative for my business as a performer, as I was finding I was spending 40+ a week doing, not very much. While this was necessary at the start of the recovery process, after a few months it was largely a waste of my time.
I was able to look at the data I had gathered about my outreach, SEO, Client conversion etc. Allowing me to visualise my own Wingspan-esque business board. This insight made for the creation of a new very simple business plan as a knew exactly what my strengths and weaknesses were and how much time I needed to spend to hit my KPI’s.
How you can apply this to your business
Looking at your own business you can very quickly look at around four major actions you must do to keep your business alive. You also need to understand how these actions feed into each other, and what resources they generate or require to function.
Once you have defined what these four actions are, you need to make them easy to visualise, for me having a written reminder on my wall. Once every day that you are working on your business you need to focus on completing one of these tasks to completion to the best of your ability.
On the next day, you spend on your business you need to focus on a different task you have not completed that “week” and again complete it to the best of your ability. Once you reach the end of your week, you need to look at your stats and decide if you have hit your KPI’s for the week. If you have not you need to work out what your highest leverage task is and then complete that. Rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved your targets.
This system has allowed me to spend my time more effectively. Allowing me to think less about my actions while making them more efficient.
Applying this system to your business should be easy and feel easy to execute.
For more information about this system and some other business tips from the entertainment industry, check out this podcast episode.
Wingspan is a very good entry-level board game. If you are looking for an excuse to reconnect with a few old friends and fight over birds, this is the ticket. You can find and learn more about Wingspan here.
If you want to learn more about business strategy keep your eyes on my social media or on this blog as I will be sharing more information over the coming weeks.
To find out more about Mindset, Magic and Marketing click the blue.
As always if you have any questions or comments get in touch here.