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the solution—the blade that can cut through the massive mounds of data to enable businesses to adapt quickly and compete.

Transformation is not optional but it doesn’t come easily to companies. Organizations that wish to be agile must transform their processes and decisions, embrace rapid, adaptable integration, and have a flexible and efficient infrastructure. For example, in a recent report, Gartner states that by 2015 more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will “gamify” those processes—make them more accessible for adoption by engaging and teaching executives, managers, and employees through game techniques.2

In this article I explain how organizations can incorporate “serious games” to add value and agility in an increasingly complex environment.


Play is a universal language characterized by enjoyment, established rules, and tangible, clear goals. Digital games can create deep, immersive experiences or quick bursts of excitement. Serious games, designed for a primary purpose other than entertainment, focus on clarifying goals, excising irrelevant information, and developing tangible, measurable improvements in a particular activity or task. They create realistic environments for testing strategies, tactics, theories, and ideas, leveraging the best aspects of games to make modeling, prototyping, experimenting, training, and skill acquisition faster, cheaper, more enjoyable, and more visible.

Whether for a training exercise, supply chain, or cyber defense scenario, smart games techniques can help participants visualize and understand complex systems through video and online gaming, engaging them through competition, teamwork, intrigue, curiosity, and problem solving. These features attract participation, encourage creativity, and help establish a path to collaborative work and analysis.

Although technology has changed the appearance and interactions associated with games, the experience associated with the best games has not changed: the challenge of any game or simulation should match the skills—and test the limits—of the players and the surrounding system in a meaningful, enjoyable way. What better test of game and gamer limits than the most serious challenges facing the world today?

Game Playing to Enhance Business Processes

Business simulations have been around for many years. They allow inputs and, given a set of business rules, produce new outputs. What they lack is the collaborative environment that motivates people to optimize. Keeping a business process locked up in a castle turret with fortified walls does no one any good.


2“Gartner Says By 2015, More Than 50 Percent of Organizations That Manage Innovation Processes Will Gamify Those Processes.” Press Release, April 12, 2011;

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