“I think I have the answer”, I said. “I know who did it”!
Board games for business
It was the end of summer and I was meeting a few of our graduate hires for their first day at my consultancy. Starting in a new job can be intimidating, and I wanted to break the ice in a fun way.
“Colonel Mustard did it in the conservatory with the candlestick”. I had won our round of Cluedo.
Playing board games brings out new and unseen qualities in people.
The introvert may argue fiercely to strike a deal in Settlers of Catan, while the extrovert falls silent while analyzing his best options in Monopoly. Games create a playground where employees can test unknown qualities in a safe manner. In what other context would the risk averse ever consider invading Russia a good option?
Tabletop games are seeing a rise in popularity all over the world. Purchases have risen by between 25% and 40% for the past four years (Guardian, 2014). The industry is experiencing a golden age, with an increasing number of high quality games being published every year.
This trend seems destined to pass over into the worklife. In the fast changing world of new technology and evolving business models, the ability to teach employees new skills fast is paramount.
Standard board games are good for getting to know each other, but board games can be even more useful for your business. Specialized board games can teach employees new hard skills. More than simply teaching, a good specialized board game lets players learn through their own experiences and choices they make in the game. This kind of learning sits deeper and lasts longer than classroom training.
I have used such board games with great results.
One game, called getKanban, lets players steer a software team through a project using Kanban, a popular development method. I don’t think there is any other way than a game to make people so enthusiastic about concepts like “Cumulative Flow Diagrams”!
Another example is KanDo Lean that lets players run an assembly line for little plastic trolleys. By applying Lean production principles, teams improve the assembly time for the trolleys from several minutes to less than 10 seconds. Playing the game creates a great understanding for the philosophy behind Lean.
Then there’s my own project, Playing Lean.
While still in development, the goal is to teach players about innovation and Lean Startup, a modern approach to entrepreneurship. I think a board game is an ideal setting for this.
Doing experiments while trying and failing at innovation in real life comes at a high cost. Why not cover the basics with a safe board game?
Time will tell whether Playing Lean gets as good as getKanban and KanDo Lean.
Meanwhile, I encourage companies to try out board games in their company education plans. Like me, you will see that games are a great way to learn while having a good time together.
(c) New To HR.