Teaching Strategy Skills With Simulation Games

At our Lab at Purdue, we teach the multiple skills of complex collaboration with simulation games.

Every organization is facing complex, wicked challenges. We are unprepared. Traditional management practices do not work well. We do not yet have the skills or the light weight collaborative processes we need to do deep, shared, strategic thinking quickly.

Customized strategy games have proven an effective way to introduce these skills. The games are designed just slightly away from the reality facing the team. If the game is too closely associated to the team’s current situation, participants have difficulty separating themselves from their day-to-day roles.

At the same time, if the simulation game is too far detached from their current situation, participants have difficulty emotionally engaging in the role play.

For example, to address the challenges of opioids in our community, we have developed a game around maternal morbidity. To introduce the skills to a pharmaceutical company, we designed a game focused on a medical device manufacturer.

We developed our first game, Midville, to enable neighborhood leaders in Flint see how they could address the complex challenges of their neighborhoods.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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