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Playing to win: serious games for competitive advantage

By Harmen van Os, PA manufacturing expert and Michiel Krol, PA decision sciences expert

Serious games allow employees to experiment with different approaches and behaviours in a safe environment and, by simulating the consequences of their actions can help to encourage behaviour change and awareness around particular issues. Serious games can also support strategic thinking and training.

According to PA's Harmen van Os: ”Daily operations and even management disciplines are often stuck in ’proven’ and familiar routines, which can make change difficult. A serious game creates a different business environment in which it is safe to trial new approaches and make mistakes, break through current thinking patterns, and experience the impact of behavioural change.”

PA has worked with a number of major clients to develop serious games to support strategic planning, prepare for change and manage uncertainty.

Using serious games to anticipate competitor behaviour

Role-playing can help you to understand your competitors’ thinking and anticipate their next move. We supported a blue-chip company when it saw one of its highly profitable niche markets threatened by major corporations from adjacent sectors entering the market. By role-playing their competitors, the company was able to fully understand the threat they faced; and the valuable insights they gained enabled them to revise the business strategy and enhance their competitive advantage.

Experiencing a new reality through serious games

Nyenrode Business University wanted to help insurance business leaders prepare for the Solvency II directive. This required business leaders to understand the impact of their business decisions on risk, capital and long-term performance. We developed a serious game that showed how core business decisions on acceptance or claims-handling policy, product development, product-portfolio management and pricing structures all have a direct impact on managing risk and capital. This serious e-game has helped more than 200 leaders in the insurance industry to experience the new reality of Solvency II regulations, raising industry awareness about managing risk, capital and long-term performance.

Helping employees ‘Live through’ an organisational change 

A large insurance company changed the relationship and processes between local business units and the central IT organisation. To help employees understand how this change would affect them, we designed and implemented a serious game that clarified the impact on roles and responsibilities, created buy-in and awareness, and established new ways of working. According to PA's Michiel Krol: "Serious games make business transformation highly interactive and engaging."

Serious games to enhance strategic planning

A global chemicals firm was great at strategic planning but needed to become more agile to respond to unplanned events. We created a computerised game that replicated the firm’s competitors, customers, products, the innovation pipeline and operations. Small teams ‘played’ five years into the future, taking business decisions with the objective to achieve strategic targets and responding to a large number of external events. Our behavioural scientists then assessed the teams' agility. By rolling this serious game out across the top 80 managers of the firm the company gained valuable insight into how their people could adapt their behaviour to become more agile.

Exceptional results from serious games

Our experts can help you understand how serious games can increase your competitive advantage – whether this is through behavioural change, creative thinking, awareness or learning. We use your objectives to plan the format of the game, including the required level of realism and complexity; whether it should be computerised or not; how to construct teams; how to facilitate the game; and whether or not to use role-play. By getting the details right and involving behavioural scientists from the outset, we help to ensure your investment delivers exceptional results and creates a lasting impact for your business.

To find out more about how serious games can help transform your business, please contact us now.

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