Taking board games to board meetings

Playing the corporate strategy game

Traditional board games such as chess focus strategic and operative thinking on just a few dozens of squares, pieces or stones and rules, yet resulting in an astronomical number of possible states. The aim of the game? One or other of the following outcomes: an outright win (a clear upper hand resulting from the specific relative position of the pieces) or a situation comparable to a win (a superior state resulting from a better position of the field of play with respect to the overall relative position of the pieces). The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Risk Management has developed a game for different strategic and operative decision making scenarios in everyday business management.

The game was a playful by-product of management consulting and development projects. The roles of each piece are dictated by specific rights and responsibilities. Aims are dictated by the specific state on the board. The hardware: a hexagonal board and pieces made out of solid wood. The software (in other words aims and roles) is literally written on paper.

The board and figures are used to make the goals, strategies and measures more visible. By changing the rules, roles and aims, the system can be made deliberately complex and cater for different types of games. The games are not driven by random selection from a tumbling dice. Chance, and with it unforeseeable future circumstances or outcomes, emanates from the decisions made by players for the coming move or a variety of possible moves. Chance also results from less prudent decisions. Basically this is the type of complexity governing enterprises and their business environment. Stimulus foe the development of the game has always been the context of enterprise and business. The game also involves practical and theoretical considerations. One of the key starting points for the inventors was to show how taking gambles relates to decision making, and to demonstrate complexity (and with this: the limited predictability of future scenarios) in the form of a game.

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