Organizational learning – all fun and games?
We work on developing new learning concepts and experiences for professionals and corporations of all sizes. And a dominant part of these concepts is games. But how can something as seemingly silly as playing games be used for something as supposedly serious and big business as major organizational changes?
Have you ever heard of the concept ‘gamification’? Maybe not, because the term hasn’t been widely known for a very long time. Only since around 2010. Today gamification is actually a successful and flourishing industry – a 421 million $ business, to be more precise.
Gamification supports changes
But what is gamification and how do we use it when working with leadership training and organizational change management? The core of organizational changes and leadership training is, in my opinion, learning: learning about your stakeholders’ reactions towards change and different leadership styles. We can learn some things about all that in a classroom, seated in front of a Power Point-slideshow, but we actually learn more by doing, experiencing and solving problems on the job. According to Eichinger and Lombardo – two magnificent theorists on organizational learning – 70 % of what we learn, we learn through experiences on the job, while 20 % is learned from role models and feedback, and only 10 % from formal training.
That is why we work on transferring more learning to the organizations. And we have found that games combined with tools to drive and execute on the same complex level as the games, create the most value for the companies. Because the anchoring process begins immediately during the game. This is how we make sure to transfer learnings to the 70 %. We try to revolutionize the consultant service to cover the entire setup form the 10 % (before the training) to the 20 % (in the classroom) and onwards to the 70 %, once the participants are back at work.
Therefore we simulate organizational reality in our concepts – a difficult merger between two former competitors, a complex case handling process in a Danish municipality, a conflict on a building site, and it’s here the term gamification comes into play. So to speak.
Game elements make learning fun
Simulation is an element used in games. It’s part of the gameplay, and it makes the players engage in the problem at hand.
Gamification is in essence the principle of using game elements and applying them to other fields to motivate and engage people in reaching their goals; be it education, cause awareness or in our case – organizational learning, change management and leadership training. We use game elements such as online simulation, we use boards as you know them from Monopoly, we use pieces to personify the employees, whom we are trying to move in the change processes. We also utilize the classic game elements of unpredictability (for the participants) and competition, which really motivates and fires up the players.
But the games are all based on dominating theories in the fields of organizational and leadership theory, which the facilitators explain during the gameplay.
And both I and our facilitators can literally see the participants learning: their facial expressions, when their intense struggles to get a stubborn employee to take the bait and embrace the change just isn’t happening, or when one of their leadership choices actually makes a difference, moves the pieces in the right direction and they reach their goals.
It’s serious learning made fun.
Leif Sørensen, CEO, Relation Technologies