The Great Game of Business
“Business is a game,” proclaimed IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. “The greatest game in the world if you know how to play it.” That’s right, games aren’t just for kids anymore. Increasingly, people are realizing that games have a place in the professional work environment, and while it may not be time for us to pick up the sidewalk chalk just yet, it is time to use Game Theory to uncover powerful insights into how we solve problems and reach solutions.
Game Theory, most traditionally utilized in mathematics, has more recently been applied to the social sciences. Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo, who recently published a book on the subject called “Gamestorming,” articulate the primary focus of Game Theory as exploring how groups of people interact. It’s rooted in the idea that almost any situation can be seen as a series of systems that create a game. This is in direct contrast to the traditional model, which views business as a linear, predictable chain of cause and effect. Game Theory doesn’t strive for predictability as much as it aims to unleash breakthrough ideas and creativity, and it’s used to create a framework for experimentation, exploration and trial and error.
Applying Game Theory
Of course, understanding Game Theory in, ahem, theory is one thing, but what’s great is that it’s relatively simple to begin integrating Game Theory into everyday work environments. Games can be used to keep people more engaged in meetings, help them get to solutions faster, and develop action steps and priorities that everyone is actually excited about.
Kaizens and Work Sessions
We were pretty thrilled to stumble upon “Gamestorming” at Brandtrust®, as we’ve always used Game Theory in our work to unleash breakthrough thinking and ignite participants’ passion and energy for the project at hand. Each of our client engagements culminates in either a post-research accelerated work session or a kaizen meeting (kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “improvement” or “change for the better”). In these work sessions and kaizens, participants are arranged in small groups that diminish hierarchical distinctions. We create a supportive, facilitated environment that encourages everyone to build ideas upon a common foundation of insights and work together using games that encourage collaboration, reflection and actionable outputs.
Let the games begin! It’s not just child’s play!