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Using games and play to improve change capability

Group of 6 dice on a wooden surface displaying different numbers

How can change management – across portfolios, programmes and projects – really be embedded in organizations?

There is – today – a major shift in how organizations view the proposals they receive for achieving effective change. Now, they are turning their attention more to creating what we call “change energy”.

Without an intrinsic need for change, employees are unlikely to believe it in their hearts and will soon return to old behaviours their bosses wanted to change.

And the influx of new people in the workforce – from university and school – is bringing a different attitude: they find existing ways of working old fashioned, have shorter attention spans and actively seek feedback.

One answer to this problem is to use games and play:

Gaming helps people to understand the impact of their actions on their environment. Trying out new ways of working in a safe environment creates a certain kind of energy which means:

  • Engaging people in the game
  • Challenge – not just about winning but about reaching a goal
  • Cooperating with others.

But how do you get senior management in organizations to take this approach seriously and invest in it?

Above all, it’s vital to ensure the gamification and play approach appeals to boards of directors’ way of thinking, for example achieving better productivity and making better decisions. They also want to know that, beyond playing the game, people can apply the learnings in everyday practice.

And it’s important to emphasize that gaming and play in business isn’t a fad:

The 4th largest infrastructure project in the world – at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands – has been managed with PRINCE2® and gamification. Meanwhile, the public transport company in The Hague has also used a gamified approach for risk management.

Even multi-national companies in finance, such as Barclays in London, have used this for project management.

There is in portfolios, programmes and projects an element of competition which is about creating a result, a new vision or a blueprint and working together in an efficient way. Energy in these teams is considerable and therefore these are the ultimate environments in which to use gamification.

Gamification and best practice

Using gamification alongside best practice frameworks helps them to come alive, adds value to the processes and makes the approaches even more workable for people.

We are at a turning point: gamification is huge among younger people and even among an older demographic. As education systems are using gamification in the curriculum to teach, young people are less afraid to go back to that concept of play.

This is real business, but performed in a different way with more and more people today becoming convinced of its value.

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