In a recent proposal, I was asked to come up with a competitive and fun way to train people to be more strategic minded. Thanks to a change in the company strategy people would need to adapt from being operationally focused to becoming more strategic in their thinking and analysing more than one option to move forward. The solution of choice was a gamified training program.
My first question then was, how will they know it has been achieved and what exactly does strategic thinking mean in this companies’ context, culture and world they operate in. A lot of the time when asking these kinds of questions, you also help the client in crystallising the vision or meaning they have for their project. The answers to these questions help us determine what kind of game play could potentially work. Often the narrative can come from the bigger picture vision.
We then look to speak with some of the target learners to identify behaviours and potential game play they tend towards. For anything to be appealing and motivational, we want to involve the target audience in the design.
Creating the gamified learning journey is what comes next. We look at relevant strategy games with an element of resource management planning, because in the user research it came out that multiple factors would need to be managed in reality. We want the game play to reflect exactly those same conditions as people experience in real life albeit in a game environment.
We opted for team competition and for teams to find out who to put forward for which of the challenge tasks based on individual strengths discovered in the learning journey. Active conferring and comparing within a team was encouraged as that is also what the company wants to encourage going forward. The learning journey contains mini-challenges which can be completed individually and will build the team score and give an indication of personal competency. Each individual in the team will need to their share of individual challenge in order for the team to be allowed to move forward on the bigger game board and take on higher level challenges and other teams.
Learning and competition don’t have to be mutually exclusive, saying that I also strongly feel that the competitive element then needs to come from collaboration and team performance rather than individual performance. The reason for this is the impact of competition on the loser is far stronger if you play as an individual rather than as a team. A team will have a bigger coping mechanism for when it doesn’t work out. Individuals will still learn and often rise to a higher level because of the team. By asking each team to nominate their MVP for each round, we still allow for personal recognition and in the individual challenges individuals build up their scores.
The end game is to play in the inter-company championship and compete against your peers to crack the strategic challenge set by the board. Each team will be pitching to the board for their game plan to win. It will play out like a debating style competition where part of the team has to address pro’s and the other part con’s to allow the board to see how you navigated the problem. The team score up till now counts as well as the scores given by the board. The top two teams will face each other in a public voting round with their peers on the CEO challenge.
Some of the key game play we draft from casual games for the individual mini-challenges, board games for the overarching team game play and ultimately tournament style for the final rounds with elements of popular game shows where voting and scoring is the key to success. Each team cannot succeed unless all members play, MVP awards will gain an individual scores and will give teams a chance to have power-ups in the final rounds.
Although the key is learning, the organisation in question truly want to make it a fun event in a campaign style manner. This type of learning in my view will be talked about for a number of years to come.
What else would you add to this gamified learning journey?