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Rackspace EMEA CTO Lee James discussed gamification and creating winning teams in a video interview at the 2019 CIO Summit.

James had delivered a morning keynote at the annual CIO gathering in London, and in a video interview with Scott Carey shared some of the key messages about creating a culture where employees are empowered to be themselves, and what CIOs can learn from how younger generations engage on a game like Fortnite.

[2019 CIO Summit photos and highlights]

"The workforce is changing, we have to align ourselves with their needs, their requirements, and think about how we bring those into the workforce and really see the benefits of that," he said.

Team ethos

James said that the current crop of CIOs and CTOs might have grown up playing single-player computer games on an Atari, Commodore or Sega machine, but that there was much to learn about team building and engagement from modern multiplayer games.

"I talked about Fortnite because Fortnite helps you customise and allows you to go after small tasks and achieve those tasks together as a team. That team has got to work together - and it's done in very short sprints that we see very much in the kind of Agile space.

"What really hit home is Fortnite allows me to be me. I can pick my own costumes, I can go after the tasks that I want to, I can be in the squad that I want to be in. I want to be in that squad because it excites me, it inspires me, I believe in it. And I'm allowed to be me, and we have something at Rackspace called, 'it's okay to be me at Rackspace'.

"That's what we see the younger generation wants when they come to work. They want an ethos, they want to understand what your sustainability policies are. They want to understand the team that they're going to work into."

'Feedback forward'

James also augmented modish startup phrases like 'fail fast' and 'fail forward', saying he preferred to use the term "feedback forward" - making iterative improvements based on feedback to please your customers.

"Feedback forward is taking that feedback and making it better; that's what people want," James said.

"If you please the customer, make the customer happy, go above and beyond for that customer, you'll get that back in terms of their business and their support."

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