Want Next-Gen Management Skills? Get Your Game on

Ann All

Got an employee who plays World of Warcraft at the office? Instead of punishing him, maybe you should promote him.


A new study from IBM and Seriosity (which sells solutions that "use psychological and economic principles from multiplayer games to improve collaboration, innovation and productivity," according to its Web site) highlights a connection between the kinds of skills needed for multiplayer, online role-playing games and those needed for next-generation management.


BusinessWeek reports that such games foster a willingness in even introverted folks to step up and give leadership a try. They also promote skills that are especially useful in our increasingly flat and fast-moving world, including gathering information from diverse sources, assessing strategic risks and rebounding quickly from failures.


Big Blue has much at stake in promoting this new game theory. In addition to its vocal support of the virtual community Second Life, IBM has created a business division for Internet technologies. Its first product is a game called Innov8 that helps folks develop and test their process improvement abilities.


Gartner believes that 80 percent of Internet users will have avatars for work and play by 2011 and that half of U.S. companies will have "digital offices" or other such virtual environments by the end of 2012. With the business case for such environments just beginning to shape up, we think this may be a little overly enthusiastic.


But the IBM/Seriosity study makes many of the same points as "Everything Bad Is Good for You" author Steven Johnson: Video games and other widely derided aspects of popular culture are just as or more likely to help us than they are to hurt us.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 11, 2007 10:33 AM Paul Paul  says:
Awesome Read, and Sooo true. If only I can convince Corporate of the same. Now...where is my guitar hero axe. Reply
Jul 11, 2007 11:38 AM Ken Ken  says:
Just what I didn't want my son to see!! :-) Reply
Jul 11, 2007 1:07 PM Michael Michael  says:
Very interesting. I have been a gamer for 30 of the 33 years I have been on this earth (My parents introduced me to Pinball at age 3 and I was hooked.) I have always been better at Multitasking, problem solving, critical thinking, and more importantly, outside thinking. When I play a game, I try to find out everything I can about it, not to BEAT the game, but to disect it and find ways to do it BETTER. These are very important traits in todays buisness world, and I think that big blue has the right idea. About half of my generation and 7/10ths of the current generation are gamers. The traits that we have honed so well over the years are being recognized for what they are. Critical thinking. problem solving. Innovative ways to do things. THAT'S what a gamer does. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go camp scarlet monestary for cloth and greens. Peice. Reply
Jul 12, 2007 8:09 AM jayanta adhikari jayanta adhikari  says:
very good one...even I have done some research on this during my MBA and I am a gamer also. I also believe in the same cause as a gamer we have certain skills that others don't have. Like Attention to every details, strategies next moves and anticipating others move also, the puzzle solving skills specially all the logical possibility and etc. So, corporate world...please take a note are here to help you in better way if you only cud possibly understand us and the capability of ours.... Reply
Jul 13, 2007 6:14 PM Everett Lockhart Everett Lockhart  says:
This article cannot be 100% serious. Why don't we make all gamers who play flight games airplane and fighter pilots? It is dangerous to imply blanket statements such as the ones that I have seen in this article. Gamers are not the only people in society with the skills in question here! What about the fact that a huge number of the gamers are minors? Should we then make them managers? Are they better at multitasking than all adult non-gamers? Simply because these qualities have been found in some gamers, we should not get carried away and start saying that this is where the next wave of leaders, managers, etc... will come from in the future, and the now.... Reply
Jul 16, 2007 12:37 PM Chris Bower Chris Bower  says:
Interesting.At 40, and an engineering manager, I am one of the more mature gamers on the Azjol Nerub Warcraft Server. I only play to switch off from the stresses of the day (10-15 hours a week), but I believe there may be something in this.Organising a guild (a group of players) to ensure we can run a bi-weekly 10, 20 or 40 man raid (raid= group of players working together to beat a common challenge), with the correct character class mix (you rely on certain character classes such a priests to heal, warriors to take damage), and employing correct tactics (who stands where, who does what when) can be a massive management/co-ordination challenge.Not only do you need to get people together at the right time and get them working together, you need to build the team by ensuring correct preparation in terms of armor and weapons as well as potions etc.Communication is absolutely key to success.Quite often it can take up to 20 attempts to defeat a new boss in a dungeon which can take many many hours.The team needs to have improvement sessions after failures and needs to be kept motivated. We encourage people to take turns in leading the raids, and have to work out player rotation schemes to ensure everyone gets a turn and loot distribution schemes (such as DKP points which reward contributors to the team).A raid can take 4 hours to complete, and keeping people focussed whilst having fun needs good interpersonal skills.Our guild (over 100 players) pays for its own website and teamspeak (a way of communicating via voice) accounts and so logistics around getting contribution from players is required.So I guess my point is that certainly warcraft players get to practise many management skills on a regular basis, which can only be a good thing.I'm not saying that leaders will come from here, but for any manager its a good way of practising skills and should be used as an easily accessible and fun development tool. Reply
Sep 25, 2007 8:31 AM jayanta adhikari jayanta adhikari  says:
"What about the fact that a huge number of the gamers are minors?" - Everett LockhartWell, i am strongly opposing your point. As from various research it has been proved that 50-60% gamers are in the age bracket of 25-35 years. So do you want to state that these people are minor??..As for your other comments like, they are not able to do Multitasking...think and observe carefully. These gamers are far more capable than your imagination. They are better in competitive situation, they are good at leading and multitasking as well. Because while playing games they have to take care of there fellow players (in case of online games like Counter strike)..they has to do Micromanagement as well as Macro management...(Such as Railroad tycoon 3/ Railroads..) even they has to also strategies the moves...regarding investing, share trading etc..in all those tycoon based games. I am a strong believer that gamers have good managing, leadership quality. Reply

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