Decode the Code

Decode the Code

We’re all in this together.

This was to be the second official iteration for the Code of Conduct (“the Code”) e-learning program. Unlike the previous version where you read a story in the scenarios and made a choice, in this one, a cartoon character will tell you their stories and ask you for advice. If you give the characters good advice, we move on. Give them a less than ideal advice and we’ll visit the content of the Code, to remind us of the organisation’s expectations and preferred behaviour. In a way, similar to the classic “choose your own adventure” stories.

Even though there aren’t winners or losers in this training package, for every choice you make, the game logic will still grant you points for both good and not so good decisions. The big reward would be the time you will save when collecting more good points. The ‘Code Ninja’ mode, added in the current version, is still present. The program lets you choose whether you want to see the entire content, or just face the scenario-based quiz questions. This option, in particular, triggered many positive feedbacks. There are thousands of employees that have been working in the organisation for years, some decades, and will know the Code by heart. I find it is only fair to respect their existing knowledge and build from there.

The teammates you encounter along the course. Each one will play a role in a story they tell you. You then decide what to make of it, whether it is okay or not, even if further action could or should be taken. 

Issues that are seldom black and white.

With the characters telling you their story, you don’t have to go through large chunks of text to understand the scenario before making a decision. Plenty of research out there will indicate videos can increase engagement and characters can increase relatability. The scenarios deal mostly with grey areas, some where there isn’t 100% right or wrong answers. In this gamified experience, we go for better choices rather than absolutely correct ones.

The rationale behind it? I like to think that workplaces are, in general, complex. It is made of people, and people are complex (Cynefin anyone?). I understand it is more than just that, with governance and its policies, a management strategy that will not always match the environment needs, but that is beyond both my reach and the scope for this project. So, what then? After some reasoning, I managed to persuade the subject matter experts (SMEs) to blur the line between right and wrong answers on some of the scenarios, and I would score them accordingly. Each time you choose an option that is not the preferred one by the organisation, but it is not wrong either, an extra screen will let you know that, while we respect your choice, there are other ways to handle the issue; and perhaps further thoughts could be considered. 

The end of a saga

In the past few years, I’ve been lucky to be involved with some important learning programs, such as this Code of Conduct. That’s the rules of the house, what is acceptable and what’s not, it sets the expected behaviour for every single employee, internal, permanent, part-time and what have you. This version with the character animation would be my third and latest iteration.

Over the past two-ish years, there has been many conversations over the content and how it should be presented, adjustments, updates, fine-tuning etc. From concept to completion, every stakeholder involved was consulted, most even got to play the gamified version during production. Every single one of them provided a very positive view of the program, in a constant loop of feedbacks. All milestones approved with flying colours; all but the last, the final sign-off to publish the content. This one got stuck for a few months before a bomb lands on my desk; the project has been canceled. Once an executive decision is made, a descriptive process follows and the adoption is enforced top-down, with little to no latitude for interpretation – typical of a rational system, with complicated strategies. Efforts are appreciated, support is offered at team level; we vent a little – thanks for listening – shake it off and move on. Next?

I just completed the game and loved it! So nice to see something different. some comments from my perspective: I think the goal is clear as there are hidden messages throughout which links back to the Leadership Blueprint behaviours. It’s very easy to navigate (…), and the dashboard is a great idea, as it’s a constant reminder of where you’re at. So clever, well done you.

Penny M.

Senior Learning Designer, A/ Leadership Team leader, BCC

Leadership Academy awareness activity: Connection

Leadership Academy awareness activity: Connection

The new standard

Late 2018, the Council I work for rolled out a new-ish standard guideline for leaders. It’s a blueprint for desired behaviours, meant to help leaders better understand where their capabilities currently sit against Council’s standards, and also each other.

In order to ease leaders into this new system, a few programs have been developed. One of them, is an interactive online activity I developed with the L&D team, aimed mainly at aspiring and team leaders. Middle and executive managers will enjoy the effort and see the value, although they might find the activities too basic for their level.

Story and logic

(A method to the madness)

The Synopsis – You’ve been invited to join Earth’s delegation and represent Council on the most prestigious intergalactic summit in the Open Space. In preparation for attending the summit, you’ll make key decisions that can make or break the project. They will affect the course of history, the outcomes, your performance and have an impact on the people around you. Your job is to lead your team, make positive connections and deliver a world-class presentation.


The logic

The overarching story is based on the blueprint’s sub-factors for Connection, one of the capabilities promoted, and all passages and decisions are backed by supported (and expected) behaviours.

During the activity we track two variables, CONNECTION and TIME. They are points you may gain or lose in every decision you make. For instance, at some point you’re given the option to get to know more about your team members. If you choose to do so, you’ll lose time points (time invest). However, connection points may be rewarded.

Based on your score, you’re presented with one of four results, from nailing the project to failing not going to the summit at all. Also, based on performance, 70:20 activities are recommended.

The result

The activity is still new, so it’s early to pull any definitive data out. However, the reports already show we’re off to a good start. The majority of the learners (leaders) enjoyed the overall activity and they find the awareness gained will be useful in their jobs. The feedback rate went up to 46%, that’s far more than any other training we have in-house. Also, importantly, the vast majority (83%) liked the way the activity was presented. 

I’m very excited to participate in this new approach, be able to introduce game based activities to Council and work alongside high caliber learning professionals to bring leaders training that is engaging and fun to play yet serious enough to make it to the official Leadership Academy. 

City of Tea Tree Gully visual ID

City of Tea Tree Gully visual ID

I just spent the last month and a bit helping the communication team at the city of Tea Tree Gully council sort out their visual and corporate identity. I have to say, I was surprised.

From other people, I know that work with councils, the impression I had is that things are generally (too) slow, I thought I’d fighting bureaucracy and quickly start hitting walls. Instead, I met a dynamic team, young and young at heart, they took me in as part of the team from day one, and together we worked. In the course of 5 weeks, we fixed the brand style guide, signage, events collateral, the mascot team for Waterworld, their website new look, intranet, asset management system and more. Few! It was full-on, but it was fun.

Design is collaborative

Coming from a creative agency background, I was quite used with ridiculous deadlines, with everything being for yesterday. Top that with two direct managers, one older and insecure yet arrogant, the other young and overly ambitious – both incredibly arrogant, fresh graduates, ready to treat everyone on their level or below like dirt, for no good reason. So this time, joining a friendly team in such an open and collaborative environment, was just bliss, like fresh air.

For this reason, I can say my first experience with working within the Council was great, and I have the communication team to thank for. I understand some of the designs proposed may take a long time to be implemented, if ever, but in the end, it was fun taking on the challenge and working alongside professionals who truly understand the meaning of teamwork, inclusion and collaboration. Thank you CTTG team.

Dean Yeagle’s cartoon head

Dean Yeagle’s cartoon head

This is the end result of a 3D character I did, based on a speed sculpting tutorial from Shane Olson and a sketch made by Dean Yeagle. It’s also my debut in working with Dynamesh geometry, a pretty amazing tool. I’ve worked on many 3D character before but nothing like this one, with the speed and flexibility it offers. Below, a work in progress.


If you don’t know what Dynamesh is, in short, it’s a technology that allows you to re-design the geometry on a 3D model, on the fly, re-mesh it, as if you’re working with real clay – although you could also say it feels a bit like magic. It’s been years, I’ve been hearing how great it is and now I finally got to have a taste of its power. So good.

More info for those who work with or are studying ZBrush

I’ve been working on this cartoon character for weeks, not because it’s super difficult or anything – but because I couldn’t figure out why PolyPaint wasn’t working. If you search the internet, most posts discussing this issue will tell you it’s because the layer is on record mode. But I haven’t had setup any layer, let alone activated record mode, so no clear answer to me. Long story short, the problem was that, for whatever reason, my brush was using the secondary colour, which as white.

Turns out, white colour won’t show at all, no matter which shader you’re using, so it seems to act more like an eraser rather than white ink. Ok, you’re probably thinking “rookie mistake”, but… ok yes, I see now that was rookie. However, on my defence I will say, that’s not intuitive. I did post the issue on both PluralSight, where I got the tutorial from, and also Facebook and GooglePlus. I got one good answer from the tutorial owner, which didn’t solve the problem, and not one answer with a plausible solution from the social media.

So there it is, if you were stuck with PolyPaint like I was, try checking your secondary colour. Or try painting with OPTION key pressed. Hope it helps someone else too.

BioGuard Xmas e-Card 2012

BioGuard Xmas e-Card 2012

An interactive festive season e-card I built for BioLab. Delegates could enter combinations of names and email addresses. This would fire an invitation email with a link to the e-card. The card itself was a short animation with a happy ending showing Santa, having a barbecue with friends by the pool.