By MOs810 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69730291

APRIL 8, 2021

When I started Anywhere League a whopping six months ago, I had no idea what was going to happen. I still don’t. It’s been an adventure, and one I’m continually learning from.

When I started Anywhere League I thought of the biggest pain points teams were dealing with was people being in different time zones, and that letting people do the same activity, but at different times, would be really helpful to people.

I also thought people are busy and it would be hard to get everyone to find a time each week that was convenient for them. Trying to get a group of people to find a time that’s convenient for everyone is always a struggle, so I reasoned that it would be better to not make everyone participate at the same time, and instead encourage smaller groups.

At the very least I figured people would need different options for taking the quiz each week. I mean, people aren’t going to have a block of time that’s free every week, right? People need to have lots of options, and then they can just slot in the quiz whenever they have some free time that week.

So imagine my surprise when teams coalesced around one date and time each week and stick to the same one. Not everyone can make it each week, but that’s OK. Some people have to leave early if they have another meeting. Some people only make an appearance once or twice a season. But the people who like it really seem to like it.

And so, after two seasons of telling people that they can play in small groups and other convoluted ways I’ve come up with for saying that, I’m giving it up. People still can if they want/have to, but from here on out I’m working from the assumption that teams will maybe try two different times at most, and then settle on a recurring time that works for most of them.

Part of this approach meant getting rid of something else, as well — rules. Well, not all rules. But hard and fast rules that were designed to account for all instances but ended up just confusing people. I’ll take full blame for that one. Was it my time in Germany that made me convinced rules and ordnung are necessary? Was it fear that people would give up if the rules weren’t followed? Do I naturally have a tendency to make things way more complicated than they need to be? 

(The answer, I’m bound to admit, is mostly #3. It’s a blessing and a curse.)

I was worried that people would want to know exactly how scores were calculated or what would happen if their team missed a week. Turns out people just want to be social and do something slightly entertaining once a week. There’s some friendly competition involved, but more often there’s chatter about each other’s pets.

So that’s my “listen to your customers” story. It’s not particularly earth-shattering. I will add one thing that I feel is missing from most stories of this type. I feel like people always talk in terms like “kill your darlings” or setting aside your ego, but those are depressing and put you at the center of the story. But if you really care about your customers and solving their problem or improving their life in some way, taking any step to make that happen is incredibly rewarding. It’s like any other relationship where sometimes you have to put your own feelings aside to focus on the other person.

And in my case, if people want to play as a team, all at once, that’s fine. It made me think of times when I would do the local pub quiz with some friends. I don’t think we ever finished higher than third, but we were there to hang out and have a good time together. If Anywhere League can provide customers with a similar experience, that’s completely worth admitting I was wrong.