Games can make you a better strategist…

…or at least this is what Martin Reeves and Georg Wittenburg state in their article published in Harvard Business Review (September 7, 2015). Now, before anyone would close this blog spot (or their leadership book) and log on to Facebook to play Farmville, I’ve got to disappoint you: that’s not the game they are talking about. Neither solitaire or World of Warcraft. They introduce their readers to a much more sophisticated and hence interesting world: the world of smart games/simulations. The authors admit that gaming earned a bad name thanking to some employees spending their working hours on virtual harvesting instead of their tasks, but it’s time to change the pattern of this thinking.

Working together with executives and strategy games, they’ve found the following „five distinct benefits of using games for enhancing strategy formulation and execution skills”. These five benefits are also features of FLIGBY, so let’s see how these appear in it.

  1. Games provide inexpensive, real-time feedback
    If it wouldn’t be enough to hear from your subordinates how your decision made them anxious or content there comes Mr. Fligby who confronts you with all (even the invisible) consequences of your choices. No need to feel shame: just conclude and move forward. As the authors also say: „a smart game keeps the manager in what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the „flow” zone, an optimal corridor between challenge and skill, by building a series of round of increasing difficulty.” FLIGBY doesn’t just help the player (the virtual general manager of a vinery) to get into „flow”, but urges him/her to help subordinates achieve the same state as well. Whether the players manage this task (i.e.: subordinates getting into flow): they just should look for the real-time feedback…
  2. Games allow managers to deeply engage with ideas by incorporating interactivity
    Interactivity is easily noticeable in the game: by clicking on a question or statement you immediately hear the reaction from a human actor’s mouth (NOT avatar!). Might be a bit freaky first, but it increases the chance of translating decisions made in the game to real life situations.
    Interactivity is the key for students or a group of managers playing together: moving on in the game doesn’t happen without discussing each and every possible decision.
  3. Games allow structured analysis of an executive’s behavior
    FLIGBY’s first and foremost mission is not just to analyze the player’s executive behavior but to develop those leadership skills that help to create a Flow-promoting working environment. FLIGBY develops 29 management/leadership skills identified by Prof. Csikszentmihalyi and the architects of FLIGBY to measure leadership and management capabilities and potential. At the end of the game the player gets a summary of his/her skillset above the summary of Mr. Fligby’s feedback.
  4. Games allow different scenarios to be tested
    One of the advantages of FLIGBY is that up till a certain point it can be restarted, or if at the end the player is not happy with the summary of his/her managerial skills, the whole game can be replayed. There are no real hard feelings from some unhappy subordinates or farm neighbors, no bankruptcy or galloons of spoiled wine left behind. Just the inexplicable happiness of getting into flow again while playing.
  5. Games can be rolled out easily to many managers
    There is no better choice for any company than to invest in FLIGBY and make it available for all their managers at any level. The game can be played individually or in groups; the whole game takes up to maximum 10 hours; measures 29 skills and gives feedback on them; a joyful way of making the managers acquire new ways of thinking and be more engaged.


(The author of this entry is Judit Nuszpl)