Aaron Dignan

Culture is changing rapidly at the intersection of people and technology. Author and digital strategist Aaron Dignan translates disruptive innovations at the fringe of the digital space and the world of gaming into meaningful lessons for the mainstream.

Dignan dressed up as a super hero for 180 straight days of the first grade, which marked the beginning of his life as an iconoclast, observer, theorist, and performer. Now, as a founding partner of the digital strategy firm Undercurrent based in New York, he advises global brands and complex organizations like GE, PepsiCo, Ford, and Disney on their future in an increasingly technophilic world.

Dignan solves problems across a wide range of industries using a model of behavior that promotes: habitual, emergent, iterative, collaborative, bespoke, and multifaceted interactions. He believes that by tapping into the ever-present digital layer, complex organizations can improve almost every process including marketing, human resources, decision-making, and future planning.

Most recently, he has recognized the immeasurable value of games as engines of motivation capable of influencing behavior. Dignan now believes that a new breed of behavioral games has the power to transform our most basic activities at work, school, and home. His book on this topic is due out in February of 2011 from Free Press.


Lessons Games Teach Us About Enhanced Performance
Playing games is one of the most popular activities in our culture, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue and absorbing literally billions of hours per week. Yet we still conceptualize games as frivolous and distinct from the meaningful activities of the real world. The truth is that human beings are built to play—our brains are wired for the kind of experience that games provide—and play is just another word for learning, under optimal conditions. Looking around our world for signs of play, we begin to see games unfolding on top of everyday life. Boy Scouts earning merit badges and business travelers collecting frequent flier miles are behaving a lot more like gamers than we might expect. And this kind of thing is happening everywhere. So what does it all mean? It means that we’re capable of playing games with the systems that govern our real life activities, and that when we do, we’re more engaged, motivated, and likely to succeed. Aaron Dignan has explored this new breed of games in preparation for the release of his new book on the subject, and has returned with some lessons for anyone who wants to turn their office, classroom, or home into something more like a game. These lessons include:

  • What is a game and why do games matter
  • What are the most powerful game ingredients and how can we use them
  • What two forces hold us back in any system
  • How to design a behavioral game for any situation

Tapping Into The Digital Layer
The advent of an ever-present digital connection is like the moon landing of our age. Now anything is possible. Disruptive technology in nearly every industry is challenging assumptions about leverage, scale, and what it takes to be successful. Expectations—from consumers and the c-suite—are sky high. Success for large and complex organizations lies in their ability to adapt to these changes and use their scale to their advantage before it’s too late. Aaron Dignan works with global brands like GE and PepsiCo to help them make sense of a cultural transformation that is moving so fast, it’s a full-time job for the team of digital strategists he leads in New York. In this presentation, he shares and explains examples of innovations occurring at the fringes of the digital space, relates their underlying significance back to mainstream business, and shares a roadmap for succeeding in the digital age, with lessons like:

  • How to spot the next big thing online
  • Who your online competition really is
  • When to ignore, monitor, partner, or acquire
  • Why micro-targeting creates big results
  • Why utility is the future of your digital experiences

The Game Frame Workshop
The Game Frame Workshop will take your company through a crash course in tackling challenges at work from the perspective of game design. Participants will workshop existing business
challenges and walk away thinking like a game designer – equipped with the seeds and buds of solutions. This two day workshop is broken up into three sections: Play, Learn and Design.

Day 1
Play: Teams get a chance to experience what’s great about games first hand. We build a custom game designed to prepare your company for the rest of the workshop. Our custom built games are collaborative and inspire teams to test their skills with a variety of playful and active indoor and outdoor challenges, which culminate in a team-based competition to design a balsa wood structure that can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure.

Learn: Participates become students in our Game Frame 101 speech and presentation. They’ll learn what makes games fun, rewarding and popular, as well as how to apply the principles of gaming to alleviate boredom and other challenges of the workplace.

Day 2
Design: After reiterating our Game Frame methodology, small teams work together to tackle the real problems that face your company’s business. By the end of this session, participates walk away with actionable game-like systems to improve their everyday workplace.

This two day curriculum can easily be customized and adjusted for a variety of venues and schedules by request. Rejuvenate your business, by taking it through the game frame. It’s game time baby!


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