As children, a
significant part of learning comes through games. Games provide a safe
environment in which to experiment with complicated pieces of life. As
adults, we can learn the same way. In a business context, games can be
a very powerful learning tool to help people understand the organisation
and experiment with different strategies without fear of bankruptcy.
There are a
number of different types of games. At one extreme are detailed
simulations of a business. Typically, these are spreadsheet based or
use a system dynamics engine to map the interdependencies of various
parts of the business through mathematical formulae. They are usually
very expensive to build and run. However, they do have their place
where it is important for people to have a detailed technical
understanding of a business (or part of the business)
On the other
extreme are board games, much like the Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders
that we played as children. They are a simplification of the business
but, well designed, they force the players to think about the salient
Why do these
board games work?
provide a safe learning environment. People relax, get involved in the
game and are learning before they know it.
appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. The kinaesthetic nature of
game playing involves those who like a “hands on” approach. Games get
people involved through their competitive element. A well debriefed
game session allows participants to understand the principles or the
essence of a business issue.
Third and most
importantly, the game prompts people to have conversations about the
business. In small groups, in a safe learning environment, people will
talk to each other about what is happening in the game, and how that is
like things that are happening in the business. Conversations are the
most powerful way of learning and of effecting change. A well designed
game provides the context for these conversations.
we have successfully collaborated with a number of clients to help them
build games to drive change through developing deeper understanding of
the business. It’s a lot of fun!