Sometimes when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I work for an organization that sells board games. “Oh, like Candyland® or Life®?” they usually respond. “Nope!” I excitedly say. “A board game that is a business simulation, allowing the participants to run a company, make financial decisions and balance income sheets.” I often get a mix of curious or confused faces. Why would anyone want to play a board game that simulates running a business? How can that be fun?
I’ll answer both questions right now. Why would they play? Because it works! Gamification has been proven to be extremely effective for onboarding and business acumen training in today’s workforce. Traditional training methods just don’t work. No one in today’s market wants to experience death by PowerPoint or sit on a computer for five straight hours listening to videos, clicking on all too obvious answers for pointless quizzes. I guarantee you all the information they just received will go in one ear and out the other past their glazed eyes. A board game simulating the training and information they need is a perfect way for information retention and to get them invested and interested in learning.
How can a business board game be fun? Well, have you ever played Monopoly®? It’s a game about buying property, charging rent, building houses and hotels and getting money from the bank. If you had never played before, from that brief description, you wouldn’t think that would be very fun, right? Yet I have family members that will spend HOURS on that board game. A true game is one that builds excitement and competitive natures. And you don’t know true competition until you witness two people argue for twenty minutes over who gets to be the racecar. But it doesn’t matter how the game is played or what the backstory is, it’s what you take away from it. If a game is fun and engaging, you’ll remember the rules and begin thinking of new and innovative strategies to win each time you play.
And that’s what businesses need today; a way to train their teams to think creatively while teaching them the ins and outs of the company in a fun, engaging way. The answer is found in classroom training. Classroom training that utilizes gamification is a perfect method to get people in one room developing financial acumen with one another. And this kind of training provides the correct takeaway. Too often organizations will promise ribbons, certificates, badges or small trophies for completing a “fun” training piece, as though that’s the main goal. It’s fine to encourage competition and the desire to win, but that’s not what it’s about.
The real prize to walk away with is the knowledge. Know your specific role in the organization, know how you contribute, think like a business owner and understand how decisions impact EVERYTHING. If I win a board game against my family or friends, the prize is the feeling of victory and the knowledge that my strategy (and yes, sometimes luck) gained me a triumph. Create that feeling of triumph in your organization today by getting into the game.