Turning the Board Room into the Game Room

Amber Johnson Culture

Photo used with permission from Marco Arnet

If you have a child over the age of five, you may be asking the same post-holiday question: how much video game time do I allow my child?

And if you’re a leader with a staff that’s expected to have a solid understanding of critical business concepts, you may be asking the same question: how much video game time do I allow my staff?

As Millennials reach the marketplace, more and more managers are discovering that previous forms of business training fail to ignite the imaginations (and hold the attention of) workers who spent their adolescent years glued to a game controller. More importantly, resourceful leaders have discovered that gaming can actually transform training opportunities, making them more engaging, more memorable, and more effective.

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article highlighted the professional benefits of gaming:

Traci Sitzmann, an assistant professor of management at the University of Colorado’s business school, says games can make employees better at their jobs. She spent more than a year examining 65 studies and data from 6,476 trainees in a study due to be published in the journal Personnel Psychology. Those using video games had a 14 percent higher skill-based knowledge level, an 11 percent higher factual-knowledge level, and a 9 percent higher retention rate than trainees in comparison groups, Sitzmann says.

Developing games that can compete in quality with Electronic Arts and other video game manufacturers takes significant resources. Software maker SAP has developed an iPad app that helps business directors prepare for meetings without reading endless binders of information. Target, the big box department store, scores cashiers on each customer check-out, allowing them to compete against their best scores.

How can you gameify your business training if you don’t have the financial resources of SAP and Target? Mashable offered a primer on using game mechanics that can be found here. Start by clarifying your vision, figure out what behaviors will be required, and motivate those behaviors. Create a game you’re willing to play, and you’ll find your colleagues are too. (For more principles of gaming, see this site.)

Have you found something that works – for your staff or your customers? Share your experiences here.

Amber Johnson is the Center for Values-Driven Leadership‘s corporate relations and social media advisor. She is a non-profit and small business communications professional. 

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