Serious gaming? Serious business, Serious RESULTS!

Published on Wednesday 12 June 2013 by in News with no comments

The itSMF in the Netherlands organized a ‘café’ on 4th June. The theme was the ‘People factor – Attitude, Behavior, Culture’.  As Jose Stijntjes, Director itSMF Netherlands  explained at the start of the session, Processes and Technology are important but ultimately it all comes down to the people and their behavior. GamingWorks and Simagine, two competitors in the ITSM business simulation market sponsored the session and used a new jointly developed  game ‘HumanIT’ to help facilitate dialogue and gain insight into the currently perceived success and fail factors for transforming IT organizations.

At the start of the session 10% thought business simulations or games were ‘NEED-to-have’, the rest considered them as ‘NICE-to-have’.   Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks presented trends in IT showing that many IT organizations are faced with a need to transform their ITSM capabilities. However current approaches to ITSM training, certification and ‘implementation’ are not delivering the necessary value or developing the required capabilities.  Current capabilities and approaches are posing a significant business risk.  New interventions are required. This is where business simulations can play a vital role.

One objective of the session was to demonstrate how experiential learning instruments, such as business games, can be used as effective learning and organizational development tools, helping organizations create buy-in, overcome resistance, translate theory into practice and change attitude and behavior. (See the  results of the GamingWorks global survey into the benefits and value of simulations). Maarten Versteegh from Simagine facilitated the HumanIT teams and conducted a demonstration of ease-IT, a business simulation game.

Another objective of the session was to demonstrate how organizations, in these financially challenged times, can improve the Return On Value of their training investments. Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks showed how the 8-field model  can be used to scope and manage training interventions resulting in demonstrable and sustainable improvements, and also revealed a shocking finding from their surveys – Only 3% of organizations actually measure the impact and value from a training investment. Most, it would appear ‘Hope’ that new behavior and value will suddenly appear.


HumanIT is a game in which delegates working in teams of 5 or 6 select and answer a series of question cards. These question cards are based upon the world-wide findings from the GamingWorks ABC of ICT (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) surveys, and are clustered around People, Process, Product and Performance.  The game dynamics and game engine are based upon the Simagine game ‘A Heart Effort’. The questions are used to facilitate a dialogue focusing around ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ behavior impacting the IT organization. At the end of the session findings are captured and can be used as input to a Service improvement program.

During the itSMF café teams spent 20 minutes experiencing HumanIT.  At the end of the 20 minutes two questions were posed:

Question 1: What examples of ‘Undesirable behavior’ did we recognize.  Undesirable behavior that we, as an organization must stop doing if we want to be successful?

Question 2: What examples of ‘desirable behavior’ did we recognize. Desirable behavior that we, as an organization must adopt or reinforce if we want to be successful?

Although it was a short taster of the impact of a game, these were the results of the sessions:

Recognized ‘Undesirable behavior’ impacting ITSM success:


  • Too little management commitment.(3)
    ‘Business doesn’t know it’s needs or take it’s role seriously in governing IT and managing V,O,C,R’.
  • Never mind about following procedure just do what we normally do.(3)
  • Too little ‘Walking the talk’.
  • Not my responsibility.
  • Saying yes and meaning no.
  • Process managers without authority.
  • SILO behavior.

  • ITIL/ISM? IT’ll never work here.(2)
  • Throwing ITSM solutions over the wall and hoping people will use them.(2)
  • Plan, do, stop….no real continual improvement.
  • Too little respect for, or understanding of users.

  • Poor business case for using.(2)
  • No real fit with process and people.(2)

  • Internally focused.(2)
  • IT Not seen as an added value partner for the business.
  • We don’t measure our value contribution to strategy.
    ‘No continual monitoring on the realization of the business case for IT projects’
  • IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case.
  • No understanding business impact and priority.(2)
  • Everything has the highest priority according to the users.

How do these results compare to the global findings of attitude, behavior and culture worst practices (based upon >3000 organizations)?.

The global Top 10 issues perceived from the customer perspective:

  • No understanding of business impact and priority
  • Everything has the highest priority according to the users
  • Not my responsibility
  • Throwing ITSM solutions over the wall and ‘Hoping’ people will follow them
  • Too little business involvement
  • IT is too internally focused
  • Plan, Do, Stop….no real continual improvement focus
  • Process managers without authority
  • No management commitment
  • It thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case

The results clearly show that many are still struggling with examples of ‘undesirable behavior’. Behavior that poses a significant business risk. One of the top 5 concerns of CIOs when interviewed was ‘Leadership development’. Leaders and middle managers need to develop skills and capabilities to turn around and address this type of behavior. The second question posed at the end of the HumanIT session was to identify ‘desirable behavior’ that managers need to display or stimulate.

Recognized ‘Desirable behavior’ that helps ensure success:


  • Managers ‘walk-the-talk’ and ‘lead by example’.(3)
    – ‘effective decision making’, ‘taking ownership and responsibility’, ‘helping people develop their capabilities’ 
  • Clearly defined, agreed, understood and executed tasks, roles, responsibilities.
  • Confronting each other on agreements and behavior.
  • Involving all teams (end-to-end) in designing and implementing new procedures and tools.(2)

  • Design processes together. Involve end-to-end in process design.(2)
  • Continual review and improvement of processes.
  • Ensure goals of process clearly know by all involved and related to business goals.
  • Ensure process managers have authority or are backed up by managers.(2)



  • Ensure clear KPI’s and management reports – support decision making and business needs.
  • Confront people on use of tool.

  • Engage with and involve business more.þ  Priority and escalation mechanisms must be aligned to business priority and impact.(2)

For more than 10 years we have been presenting the ABC of ICT People related issues. The same issues are consistently chosen year after year. One of the top chosen cards is ‘Not my responsibility’. The question is, will delegates now take responsibility for addressing the recognized ‘Undesirable behavior’ or will we be back again in 10 years time giving the same session?

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *