Plants vs. Zombies – Lessons for your business…!

I’m a big fan of games…and who doesn’t enjoy Zombies?  Well Popcap Games has combined the two into their latest time sink in a game called Plants Vs. Zombies, an addictive, very funny and challenging game – “Get Ready to soil your Plants”!

What can Plants and Zombies teach you about running a better business?  Read on to find out (and get a quick review of the game…).

Of course this is a business blog – but it’s amazing the lessons you can pick up from games – a couple of weeks ago I looked at what the game of Craps could teach you and if you’ve been a long time reader you might also remember What Team Fortress 2 can teach you about business or what you might get out of a friendly Poker game of liar’s dice.  Today however is all about Plants Vs. Zombies from Popcap Games.

What is Plants Vs. Zombies?

First a quick overview on what Plants Vs. Zombies is all about – as generally happens, the world is being overrun with Zombies and you are locked inside your suburban home trying to keep them out.  Luckily for you, you have access to a bunch of unusual plants that you can use for home defense.

As an example – you can plan pea shooters that will shoot peas (of course) and do decent damage to the zombies as they shuffle towards your house.  You can also find more creative ways to take out the zombies – I’m partial to using the Cherry Bombs to blow up several zombies at once.

All in all, there are 26 different kinds of zombies and there are 4 dozen plants and mushrooms (mushrooms only work at night) available – but you can only use a handful of them on any given mission.

That’s where the challenge comes in – you are limited to start any given mission by the tools you select ahead of time, and then you are further constrained by a couple of different variables.  There’s only so much physical space in your yard, and each plant generally costs a certain amount of sunlight (kind of like money that you collect as you go).  So your defense strategy has to balance generating enough income to build out yard against spending the right amount to protect your house.

Here’s what a full build out looks like:

More than likely the zombies are going to win this round – the goal is to keep them from getting to your house (on the far left) and there are a lot of holes in the yard for the zombies to exploit.

What can learn about your business from P v Z?

There are lots of potential lessons, but here are the first few that come to mind:

1.  Make sure you pick the right allies up front!

Your chances of success are determined right up front by figuring out who you’re going into battle with.  You need plants (or people) on your side that can help you generate resources and others that can go after targets – most importantly, you need a strong mix that’s balanced if you want to succeed.

2.  Cover all of your bases.

It only takes 1 zombie getting through 1 lane to eat out your brains.  You might be doing really well in several critical areas, but if you don’t have everything covered, you are going to lose the game.  Translating that to business, if you’re really good at operations and the financials, but not so good at Sales and Marketing, you’re not going to be in business very long.  Likewise if you’re great at Sales and Marketing, but your delivery isn’t very good, you’re not going to last long.  You’ve got to do everything well to win in the long run.

3.  Prepare yourself – the zombies come in waves!

There will be times when you are severely tested – zombies will be coming from every corner all at the same time, but if you took the time to prepare yourself up front and you built a strategy to handle the rush, you will probably be fine.  You’ll need to do some clean-up and replace some plants, but all in all you will move on.

In your business, you need to be looking ahead at what’s coming at you, not just fighting the current battles.  The minute you stop looking ahead is when you are likely to get overwhelmed.

So how’s the game?

I haven’t finished it yet (it’s actually pretty long) but it’s a very creative and funny challenge.  The zombies are hilarious and there are lots of ways to set up creative defenses.  On top of that, there are lots of additional mini-games that are all great for just a quick 15 minute break.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive challenge that will make you laugh, then definitely check out Plants vs. Zombies!  You can get it for only $9.99 if you buy it from Steam (online game distribution company).

What games do you play?  What games do you play at work?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on games that inspire you – share them in the comments below!

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach