Don’t play with it – DO take it serious

An interview with Peter Szabo, Requirement Area Manager at Ericsson


Why did you decide to play FLIGBY?

We are all sort-of “Homo Ludens”-species. That is why the gamification principle has been so interesting to me and seems to be very successful nowadays. This might have led the creators of FLIGBY Csikszentmihalyi’s Official Leadership Development program and game to come up with a game around a very interesting topic: the management of psychological aspect in the business context and in particular from a leadership perspective. Although it is called a “game”, I advise you better take it serious, especially if you want to reach the goal set in the beginning, which is to win the ‘Spirit of the Wine Award’ by the end of the harvest season and you can only achieve this if you manage finances, operations, but more importantly also your virtual management team in the simulation and mental states and feelings of the very very realistically played individual managers around you.

Was it ‘easy’ to play for you? What was the end of the game for you?

This game really requires substantial business and leadership insights, but you have an online library in which you are invited to do your readings. There is a lot of background material to make a sound decision in the simulated situations all along the game. I really enjoyed playing FLIGBY and the assessment received by the end of the game, after about 8 hours of total online gaming, was surprisingly correct! My measured skills profile almost completely matched other leadership skill assessment methods we had used at large companies. On the other hand, I had a few surprising situations while trying to be a good leader at this virtual company:  some of them were well explained, whilst some of them not, so I can ask my trainer/coach now!

Would you say the game is too complex to understand?

The game is a very well built simulation of a small company, which is so complex that you basically never feel limitations or bored. In fact, on the contrary! You must learn a lot to get familiar with all your team members and the personnel. Despite having about 150 predefined answers to chose from during the whole game process, the situations are so realistic and one can learn ‘how to handle sensitive situations’.

The only thing I have really missed comes from the constraints of the simulation; in a real-life situation gestures, mimics and body language play important role in the communication. Obviously, using professional actors and the expertise of world-famous Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s team of psychologists for producing FLIGBY is the closest we can get in simulating people interactions at work. This difficult challenge how best to teach and to assess your impact during human interactions it is a big task. It must have been realized by the developers of FLIGBY and this why they have asked real professional actors to play out the situations, which is great but still a one-way communication.

This is only a game or a learning tool? You mentioned the rich online multimedia library, but how can you really learn about people’s reactions?

The good news is that you will get a help to compensate this loss: the Flowmeter. If we ever had such a thing in real life! This control panel or instrument on your screen helps you to checked out the results of your decisions: it show how your team members and your people reacted to your decision taken.

Was this helpful for you as a business leader?

Yes, that is the place when you can learn how one can be influenced by different leadership styles. Speaking of various leadership styles and company culture: one of the strangest situation I have experienced was in the very end of the game. After having a company celebration and a festive wine harvest party, which was successfully organized by one of the virtual colleagues, she is asking for her promotion. Right on the party, it was rather usual for me. So my answer was to “let’s get back to this topic later”- Which according to the game’s feedback was considered as yet again postponing the this highly overdue decision. I was “rewarded” immediately by having a much-alienated colleague and ruining her “Flow-level”. This might be a cultural difference between my organization and country, but I personally do not think that such a serious promotional decision should and can be decided on a party.

So did you learn during the game play or by seeing the final results of your leadership style and managerial decisions?

The game provides you with continuous interactive feedback but also cumulated results and feedback from all your virtual characters, at the end of the game. They return to tell you how they felt you were as their boss. 360-degree feedback!

Then after the game play, you and your coach can analyze your leadership style and profile to point our areas where you have still room for further develop and identify areas where you can make the best use of your strength. Remember – the essence of Flow theory is to find challenges and activities, in which you can use and further enhance your existing skills. FLIGBY actually measures 29 such skills.

How do you see FLIGBY skills relating to other similar assessment systems?

The result is very similar to the result of the leadership assessment we have in our company. As our assessment is a complex one, including psychological tests and discussions with a psychologist, specialized in work psychology I think FLIGBY game can be proud of having almost the same result based on an online game. The fascinating is that it was not observable to me. It is called non-intrusive assessment, different to an expert interpretation of what I am doing and also different from a questionnaire where I am often thinking about what might be the expected right answer.

So, All in all?

All in all, FLIGBY is a very useful tool for learning about Flow theory and exercising its application in  a management context. It really worth using it both in education and leadership development.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to us it was a pleasure and a unique experience.


Prepared by Dr. Zoltan Buzady, Director of the Global Leadership & Flow Network