By Joshua Kidd
Do I have fun using Salesforce? I couldn’t help but ask myself this question as I read a book by Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost called Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games. Contrary to what you might think from reading the title, the book is not about the gamification of everything. Instead, it argues that fun comes from being attentive to the things in the world around us, embracing their limits, and learning to do what we can with what we are given. Because of what I do, I tried to relate these ideas to working with Salesforce. It’s how I spend a lot of my time. Is there any way for me to get more enjoyment out of it? Here are a few suggestions that I’ve come up with for having more fun with Salesforce.
The first challenge you might find when turning Salesforce into a playground is that it’s a vast one. While Salesforce can’t do everything, it can do a lot of things and this abundance of functionality can be daunting to newcomers. Sometimes, in order to get the most out of the platform and have fun, it can be helpful to impose some limits. When discussing the pleasure of limits in his book, Bogost talks about Soccer. Like most games, Soccer has lots of constraints. Chief among them is that most of the players aren’t allowed to touch the ball with their hands. You could say that this limits the freedom of the players, but the rule forces players to come up with more creative ways of moving the ball up and down the field. Without this constraint, there would be no headers or bicycle kicks. Without this constraint, no one would bend it like Beckham. If you want to impose a similar limit on your use of Salesforce, you might try No Code November. The idea is to spend a month trying to accomplish everything you want to do in Salesforce using clicks and not code. Doing this will limit what you can with the platform, but it will also help you discover more that you can do with Workflow Rules, Process Builder, and Flows.
Another way to have fun with Salesforce is to use Trailhead, which brings gamification to the Salesforce platform. I would argue, however, that fun in Trailhead doesn’t come from the badges and points. The points in Trailhead are no more meaningful than the points on the show Whose Line is it Anyway?. Bogost argues that games are fun not because the player is given goals, but because the player is given constraints. And this is what Trailhead does brilliantly. It breaks down a very complex system into small bite-sized chunks. A fun game to play with Trailhead might be to find a Trail about a Salesforce feature that you don’t know well and work your way through it. Then, after you’ve completed the Trail, instead of just showing off the badge, try to find a way to work what you’ve learned into your everyday use of Salesforce.
My last suggestion for finding enjoyment in Salesforce is to approach a new feature asking not what it can do for you, but instead asking what it can do more generally. In his book, Bogost argues that we are often disappointed with the things in our lives because we come to them with expectations of what we want them to do. This is almost certainly a recipe for disappointment, since everything has limitations. While we want the things in our lives, and in particular the Salesforce features that we use, to have value for us, we might find that value more easily if we approach things on their own terms. I once worked with someone who didn’t want to use Chatter because it didn’t do everything that they wanted it to do. Regular readers of this blog will know that there are lots of things that Chatter can do. By exploring these possibilities, you will find value in Chatter, even if it isn’t everything that you want in a communications tool.
So, let me take my initial question and turn it around. Do you have fun using Salesforce? I’ve found Salesforce to be an engaging playground by taking it on its own terms, embracing its limits, and committing myself to learning what the platform can do.
You may also be interested in: