Why play games at work?
We get this question a lot of times when we guide entrepreneurs, small and large enterprise organizations. Or a plain remark: “Pfff, playing games?! That’s not work!”. So what is the answer? Why would we like to use games to do serious work?
We encounter a lot of organizations that struggle to keep people motivated and engaged in their change projects, innovation projects and/or business as usual. The obvious consequences of this struggle are sub-optimal results for the business and/or projects involved. We strongly believe that the best results come from motivated and engaged people, who know how to collaborate with everybody involved. Work is serious and will always be so, but this does not mean we cannot change the way we work and it definitely does not mean that we cannot have fun while doing serious work. This is why we frequently play games as a team, but also with our customers.
When people enter a game of any kind, they are often instantly engaged in the game. When I enter a squash room and close the door I do not just stand there and hit the ball when it happens to pass by. No, I engage in the game and move automatically. You’ll notice similar engagement in soccer, computer games and other playful things we enter into. It is this kind of engagement that we want to have in the room when we tackle serious problems. When people are less or, in the worst case, not engaged to try and solve the problem at hand, you most probably will end up with a sub-optimal solution. This kind of sub-optimal solutions to problems will accumulate tension between team members, employees and, in some cases, your customers. A tension that builds up and up until it explodes.
A second benefit we see, is that game play is perfect to channel conflict resolution between people. It helps to channel emotions and builds flow into the discussions people have when working together. No matter if it is a brainstorm, improvement, status or other meeting/setting, where more than one person has to work with another. It helps people to stick to the topic, focus and, as such, generate amazing results. By applying game techniques and psychology to the situation, context and culture, we achieve better results faster!
I have a 7 year old son who likes to play games as well. We were all young, weren’t we?! When he plays his favorite game on the iPad and it is time to go to bed, or bath, or do some homework or… he tends to start negotiating to just play 1 more game, just this 5 minutes daddy. Sounds familiar? Wouldn’t it be great if we could change the entire work floor, or parts of the work activities into games where people would react the same way?
Throw away any prejudice you have about playing games at work and start figuring out what activities or processes you can turn into a game! As company culture is playing a big role in the success of this, we also recommend going slowly, one baby step at a time. Now you know why we, Co-Learning, are using a lot of game play when working with our customers, partners and internally. We like to create eco-systems where we have similar engagement, collaboration and fun as when we play games. If you want to discover more about the subject of game play at work, we recommend to have a look at
- ROI of Innovation Games®
- Innovation Games® for Agile teams
- Innovation Games® for Customer understanding
- Budget Games for City of Kortrijk
- Gamestorming: design for collaboration
- But also Management 3.0: Engaging leadership practices as it contains a lot of playful techniques to do serious work
- And last but not least our upcoming 2nd edition of “Work = Play?!”
Or just contact us to see how we can support you in your quest to a more engaged, collaborative and fun environment to work in. PS: do not make the mistake to think it is easy, it is not! It is a people thing, and as people are different, cultures are different, and therefore the approach should be different.