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Gaming and Gamulation

The Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking at the University of Washington, and our partners, have been working over the last ten years on developing alternative online platforms for leadership, team and organizational assessment and development, now called a gamulation.

What is a Gamulation?

A gamulation is designed to integrate gamification principles within a simulation, to examine the internal e.g., organizational, team composition, leadership, decision-making, climate, culture, organizational structure, governance and processes, etc. and external factors, e.g., regional to global characteristics in which the organization is embedded), to assess how players in pre-determined roles, e.g., project leader, VP, CEO, Top Management Team, etc. navigate through the different phases of gamulation play, when dealing with strategic, team, as well as individual leadership challenges.

The gamulation concept integrates the core principles that define what constitutes a simulation, e.g., representing specific challenges that are faced in a particular job or challenge, having high fidelity in representing what the work tasks look and feel like, etc., coupled with gaming principles that enhance engagement and performance, e.g., exploration, rewards, etc.

Over the past 7 years, we have built 5 gamulation experiences for individual and group assessments, as well as developmental interventions for a range of different clients.

The 5 gamulations include the following:

  • A top management team navigating a large commercial airline (Alaska Airlines) through 4 major strategic challenges, along with both work-related and non-work-related individual challenges. Participants assume the roles of the top 5 leaders in the airline, and work together to overcome these 4 challenges, while also addressing challenges they face with their workforce and at home, or in their community
  • The second gamulation focuses on a regional director position in T Mobile, to assess and develop the leadership potential for candidates recruited or recommended for those positions, that will grow to much larger numbers and complexity, with their merger with Sprint.
  • The third gamulation was designed as part of a series of leadership development journey interventions for use by Providence Healthcare Systems, which has now grown into one of the largest faith-based systems with115,000 employees. The directive for this project was to develop interventions that could accelerate the development of future Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs), fostering the growth of this large and increasingly complex healthcare system.
  • The fourth gamulation was developed for and funded by a National Science Foundation Grant, to assess and develop entrepreneurial leaders starting up hi-tech firms in 11 regions around the U.S. The gamulation incorporates many of the ‘founder dilemmas’ that trigger failure in new startups, including not properly selecting and developing the leadership team, failing to develop a coherent operational system that can scale, and lack of attention to forming a robust and coherent culture. This gamulation also includes a set of challenges associated with operating in up to 11 different regions in the U.S., whereby we incorporate a number of regional factors/indicators, that can increase the challenge for players, including the cost of capital, shortages of talent, local government regulations, etc.
  • The fifth gamulation was designed to examine a broad range of safety issues that nurses needed to learn about and become proficient at addressing, as they moved through their nursing school education into their full-time careers.