Playing Games is Serious Business
Every project needs workshops. They are essential tools for gathering and spreading information, brainstorming ideas, and solving problems. But too often they are woefully under-utilised. Many project managers see them as a means to save time, when in fact they are excellent opportunities for team building, creativity, and fun! You just need the right approach.
By creating a workshop within the framework of a familiar game we can encourage a ‘strategic’ perspective that supports creative ways to solve the problems facing an organisation or team. By removing the jargon and formality of a typical meeting, problems can be stripped back to their core, with solutions offered up more readily by more participants. Leveraging the amount of human capital in that workshop room is a missed-opportunity for most projects, but when it is taken advantage of, remarkable solutions can be achieved.
Transport NSW | RailCorp
RailCorp managed each property well, however, they didn’t have an overall property portfolio strategy. They could identify and manage individual assets, but they didn’t come together to view their overarching strategy. They lacked the creativity and motivation to take time out and strategize the problems facing their property department. We needed to take them from tackling problems on an individual level and start viewing the department as a whole and the relationship between their different assets.
The Solution – Monopoly
The real estate driven gameplay of Monopoly provided the perfect familiar context for our team. The game board now functioned as our catalyst to set the agenda. Real estate squares along the board would relate to real-world assets, and other game mechanics like community chest or chance cards would allow us to address a set of predetermined questions or problems in a randomised order. Soon we had the whole property team bonding, having fun, throwing out ideas, and asking for the ‘workshop’ to keep going! The outputs from this workshop contributed to the development of a new Target Operating Model for the Property group within RailCorp.
NSW Police Force
Building a new police station sounds easy in principle, you buy a block of land, then build a station there. That was the perspective most of the internal customers and their external service providers had at Police when we arrived. We needed to show them just how many different factors have to be accounted for, how many people are involved in the process, and how many operational challenges there are. Up until that point no one could properly articulate what everyone else did, and what benefit they gained from that knowledge.
The Solution – Lego
Instead of just getting everyone to take turns telling the team what their role was, we got them to show us!Building a police station in a day… using lego. The task set for the team required them to use a scale-map of an area currently owned by PoliceNSW, then set about building a police station that would fulfill all the needs of its users, while complying with legislative, financial, and organisational requirements. We then threw up ‘real-world’ operational obstacles for them to overcome as a team that would affect their ability to build the station in one day. This demonstrated the challenges the department experienced during “a day in the life” of providing property services. This created a tactile situation where everyone could now visualise all the different aspects that go into building a police station. The success of the team relied on sharing the knowledge about their day-to-day operations. By having different departments and vendors all in the same room working together, they got to see how others worked and where they fitted in the bigger picture and they realised just how complex it was to build a police station. This increased understanding resulted in a more collaborative working environment.