Kill complexity

Lucky wheel in two ways

Kill Complexity – It requires courage to go for the simple solution

Peeling layers of complexity competently off a solution and giving it the necessary edge require insight. Without an edge, the solution gets ordinary and uninteresting, and then it is of no benefit that it is wonderfully simple. This is a story from my summer holidays, which I think illustrates a simple solution – with an edge.

Lucky wheel in two ways

The amusement industry is probably one of the oldest existing industries, and lucky wheels are probably one of the oldest inventions in amusement parks all over the world.

The below text is an extract – go to the top of this page to download the entire article.

The amusement industry, including amusement parks, is predicted a long and prosperous future. The question is: Are lucky wheels part of these bright future prospects? There are different approaches to lucky wheels in amusement parks. My story concerns two of these.

The lucky wheel in Tivoli in Copenhagen

Our small family of four persons – mum, dad and two boys aged 5 and 9 – often pays a visit to the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen. We enjoy our visit very much, and whatever the route we choose in the old gardens, we have acquired the habit of ending the day at the Toblerone wheel. The habit has gradually become deeply rooted, but has not always been part of our visits, for the lucky wheel is kind of hidden away in the cosy narrow passage winding up towards the entrance facing the Copenhagen central railway station.

We invented the name the Toblerone wheel ourselves, because the first prize – or rather one of the first prizes – is an unnaturally big Toblerone chocolate bar. That Toblerone bar has a powerful attraction on the boys, and perhaps also on mum and dad. There are, in fact, many different prizes (sweets) to be won in the stall, and they are all over the place on the back wall. Some are big, many are small, but none of them is as appealing to us as the big Toblerone bar.

So how do you win the big Toblerone? Difficult to say. At one time, I asked the person in charge of the lucky wheel, and he went into a long, complicated explanation. Something about some prizes apparently being linked to one of the lucky wheels and some to the other wheel (there are two lucky wheels running at the same time in the stall). It also depended on how close to the centre of the number the lucky wheel ended, and then, maybe, there was the interdependence between the wheels – something about the position of both wheels after they stop spinning. I did not keep asking until I got it, and I might not have been in my brightest mood, but still today I do not understand how to win the big Toblerone bar.

There is not exactly dense traffic at the Toblerone wheel in Tivoli. In fact, it is quite often our family who gets the wheel going when we hand in our twenty Danish kroner, and I do not remember that there has ever been more than one other customer besides the four of us.

I guess we have never really believed that we would win a big Toblerone bar, but, on the other hand, we never won any small prizes either. Actually, we have never seen anyone in Tivoli with the big Toblerone. What we have bought is probably the dream about the big Toblerone – as well as the tradition and the sense of unity around the dream, which is, of course, not that bad after all.

Niels Teilberg Søndergaard
Niels Teilberg Søndergaard
+45 3085 8080

The lucky wheel in Liseberg

The story might end here. A pleasant family story which, by the way, does not have much to do with the concept of Kill Complexity. But the story does not end here. You see, one summer our family visits the amusement park Liseberg in Gothenburg.

In Liseberg, they have chosen quite another approach to the lucky wheel than in Tivoli in Copenhagen. In Tivoli, you may, if you look very carefully, find 2-3 stalls with lucky wheels, which, as a matter of fact, is also the case for Dyrehavsbakken, another amusement park near Copenhagen. In Liseberg, there are a lot more.

15-20 lucky wheels, I guess.

In Liseberg, the stalls with lucky wheels are designed in quite a different manner. Most stalls only have one kind of prizes. The prize to be won at one lucky wheel may for instance be a giant Daim, a giant Dumle, a giant Kex, a giant bag filled with Estrella chips, a giant bag of Twist, a giant block of Marabou and so on. And by the way: the prize to be won at one of the lucky wheels is a giant Toblerone!

Each stall has a distinctive and streamlined appearance. The enormous prizes on the back wall almost seem irresistible – for children and grown-ups. And it is in no way misleading advertising when a stall is covered by Daim colours and Daim logos.

Each stall only has one lucky wheel, and when the wheel stops spinning, and the arrow hits a number, that number wins a prize – the only prize to be won, i.e. a big prize. One downside of the lucky wheels in Liseberg is that you usually cannot pick the number yourself on which you will bet your twenty Swedish kroner, since there are so many customers at the lucky wheels that you will have to queue up in order to get your turn, and then it is about throwing yourself into the game with the number that has become available.

And not only the traffic of customers is intense at the lucky wheels. The giant prizes arrive in a steady stream from the back, for almost every time the lucky wheel spins, someone is given a prize. The money flow is, of course, also hard to miss. At the Dumle wheel, the pile of banknotes evoked memories of an intense betting scene in a South Asian gambling syndicate.

The lucky wheels in Liseberg probably also sell dreams, but they sell more than that, for a great number of giant bars of Toblerone, Dumle and Daim are carried around in the park. A rough estimate, which I guess is not completely wide of the mark, is that every second or third family in the park has won a big prize, and many of them even two.

Now, one question probably is on the tip of the tongue: How many Swedish kroner did we spend on winning the big Kex that we won? The answer is approximately 200. But the look on the boys’ face when it was handed to them was worth all the money, and, in fact, it became one of their biggest experiences that summer.

Kill complexity and lucky wheels

It is no secret: We think that Liseberg in Gothenburg uses the thoughts behind Kill Complexity in a much more optimal manner than Tivoli in Copenhagen. We could devise a mathematical formula to prove this, but just try to consider the following questions:

  • Which lucky wheels have the best bottom line – the best business case – the ones in Tivoli or in Liseberg?
  • Which lucky wheels generate the most traffic? To their own stall? To the amusement park?
  • What does it mean that the rules of how to win a prize are transparent to the customers?
  • What does it mean that the prize is simple and big? – and with an edge?
  • What does it mean that many of the customers win? May this influence the share of return visits?
  • Do the lucky wheels in Liseberg represent some kind of value to the chocolate suppliers in terms of marketing?
  • Do the lucky wheels in Tivoli? ... and could this value form part of the price negotiations with the chocolate suppliers?

Next you may ask yourself and your organisation these questions:

  • In which ways are you like the lucky wheel in Liseberg?
  • In which ways are you like the lucky wheel in Tivoli?
  • Is it easy and transparent to your customers to do business with you?
  • Do your customers perceive your product as simple, distinct and with an edge?
  • Are the turnover rate and the traffic satisfactory in all areas of your business?
  • Do your employees know the satisfactory feeling of working in a place full of activity?
  • Which ”experience” are your customers given when they do business with you?

The above text is an extract – go to the top of this page to download the entire article.