Organizational Learning Through Serious Gaming

Serious gaming can contribute to organizational learning, by addressing seemingly intractable awareness and attitude issues.

Cosent participated in a Service Science Factory project that developed a game simulation for Siemens Energy, product line Compressors. Players can earn points by communicating pro-actively and defeating the "pirates" that want to steal customers.

The game fosters organizational learning by:

  • Raising awareness of 'soft' problems, which are out of the scope of documented procedures, and require paying attention to interpersonal dynamics;
  • Providing direct feedback, in a safe learning environment, on the consequences for customers resulting from a lack of adequate communication by employees;
  • Presenting a holistic overview of the whole system of interaction between the customer and all the internal departments involved, empowering employees to take a big picture perspective on their role.
  • Reinforcing the importance of the end customer experience by literally viewing the long chain of interactions from the customer's viewpoint.

The game design is one of three outputs of the Service Science Factory project for Siemens Energy. We also developed a service charter and a World Cafe workshop concept, where Siemens employees will discuss and co-create new solutions to improve communications and customer satisfaction.

Inspect, Blueprint, Construct

The challenge as defined by Siemens was, to come up with innovative approaches to improve customer satisfaction for their compressor service business unit, without changing business processes or the structure of the organization.

The Service Science Factory uses a 8-week project format, in which a multidisciplinary team composed of academics, designers and business professionals, works through 3 stages called inspect, blueprint and construct. Those of you with an organizational learning background, will recognize the similarities with Theory U.

Inspect
In the inspect phase, the team conducted many interviews with Siemens customers and employees. From these, we extracted typical actors, called personas which we later used in the game design.
Blueprint
Our analysis enabled us to model a blueprint of the communications flows between customers and various departments within Siemens. We validated this blueprint by performing a social network analysis on some typical email conversations, which highlights how reality typically is more messy than your model.
Construct
In the construction phase, we elaborated upon the blueprint to construct a game engine that simulates the communication dynamics. The game engine identifies all possible game play states and the choices that players can make, in terms of performing actions and communicating optimally. The game design team then visualized an example game play sequence and produced the video above, to explain the game concept.

Siemens Energy representatives are happy with the outcomes of this Service Science Factory project. A report documenting the game design, World Cafe workshop concept and service charter recommendations can be used, to guide implementation and improve communications and customer satisfaction.

This result was made possible by a unique multidisciplinary team of people who were brought together specifically for this project by the Service Science Factory. A great example of design thinking in action, to produce an innovative solution for an organizational learning problem.

What are your thoughts on using serious gaming as a vehicle for organizational learning? Your feedback is appreciated!

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