A Serious Business Simulation is Gamification
Gamification is a very popular word. It is used in many contexts. But what has Gamification to do with Serious Business Simulations. In this article I will try to explain what the relations are and how Serious Business Simulation can be a part of a ‘Gamification-Strategy’
Gamification (Wikipedia) – is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.
Serious Business Simulation – a dynamic model of essential elements of a real or hypothetical system, process or environment aimed at focusing on business problems or issues. In our portfolio we only use non-computer-based environments.
In fact the dynamic model in a Serious Business Simulation is the interaction between roles in the context of the simulation. It is built as a set of realistic events, actions or challenges (of essential elements) to trigger the participants and challenge the team to experience new behaviors and/or actions. As a designer I use game design techniques to challenge the participants.
An example how gamification is integrated in Serious Business Simulation
In the Business and IT Alignment simulation ‘Grab@Pizza‘ we introduce Business Demands containing Business Opportunities to sell more pizza’s. The participant playing the ‘Business’ will try to get this new Demand implemented with an aim of making more money for the company. In order to achieve this, this participant will start a discussion with the IT Manager, will try to influence other roles, will defend their position. If at the end the whole action is successful, the reward is a increased revenue of the company. It is like a computer game, you make the right choices and you demonstrate the desirable skills and as a result you win points.
In the Serious Business Simulation it is all about experiencing and learning new behaviors and skills to solve business problems or issues. Participants are challenged by game elements as if they are part of a game and get rewarded. Not with game points or ranking but rewards similar to real day to day work. This can be more revenue for the company, faster resolution time for incidents, faster decision making or higher customer satisfaction. Often employees gain intrinsic rewards, such as less stress, more satisfaction, a feeling of achievement. This will lead to increased motivation of employees.
A real case experience in which a Serious Business Simulation was used as a kind of ‘game’
We were asked by a customer to deliver a Serious Business Simulation for 36 employees. The objective was to develop project management behaviors in the team in order to improve the performance of the project teams.
We designed a setup (non-game context) with a steering group, a project quality team, a project administration, a project manager and 4 project teams each of building a pyramid.
Game design technics
With the management team we defined a set of desirable behaviors demonstrating good team performance. If a role, participant or team would demonstrate this, then as a reward the Pharaoh (game leader) would accept the proposed decision, or would act as a satisfied ‘customer’. As a result decisions would be taken faster, or the project would be delivered within time.
Half way through the session there would be a reflection to explore success and fail factors. Each of the teams could benefit from this and apply the lessons learned in their own team project. This could lead to a better performance and a successful project.
By sharing the ‘desirable behaviors of successful projects’ within this company we challenged the team to to take the lessons learned back to their daily environment and demonstrate this behavior in their own projects. At the end there will be a prize for the most successful team. The winner would be the team that demonstrates the best project result applying this desirable behavior. This ‘winner-of-the-day’ element will increase competition, motivates people to use desirable behaviors and ensures sharing the the results of this behavior.
But, a Serious Business Simulation is not a game it is an instrument aimed at solving serious Business Issues
Using game techniques in learning processes and organizational development programs is a highly effective way to learn. It motivates, it stimulates and it develops new behaviors and skills.
The real value of these interventions the actions taken after the intervention. It is like piano lessons. During the lesson, you learn new techniques but back home you will practice to play the real music from the masters.
Applying the lessons learned in the day-to-day work environment is crucial. We call this the Transfer of Knowledge. Deciding together with the team what will be done differently in the working environment. How to use the same gaming techniques and rewards to keep motivating people to use and apply the newly learnt skills and behaviors. In fact it is like in the Serious Business Simulations. Reward the team with performance graphs, with the feedback from satisfied customers or simply with compliments. In this way Gamification and reward mechanisms also enter the workplace.