Friday, June 27, 2008

Learning Leadership Online?

It was an interesting experience to be part of the seminar on The Play Element of Learning Leadership in Amsterdam last Tuesday. It was a seamless combination of speakers and audiences in several locations: there were speakers and an audience in Amsterdam, speakers participating from North America with a video link and we had an audience in Second Life watching a video feed of the whole thing and asking questions. My congratulations to Eduverse for putting it all together.

Tony O'Driscoll came to us by video link to highlight the main points from the Seriosity/IBM reports that were central to this seminar. I followed up with a short keynote on the managerial relevance of games and especially game design. The most important part of the seminar was formed by the presentations of Utrecht University graduate students who had elaborated on the Seriosity/IBM reports. One of the main points of their research papers was that it is difficult to transfer elements of online games to organizations because the two domains are so different. This was further emphasized by David Williamson Shaffer, who pretty much took apart the Seriosity/IBM research by re-interpreting some of the figures in the report (after Tony O'Driscoll had virtually left the room, for which David apologized). His main point matched that of the students: isolated skills do not transfer well at all between different contexts. So no, you cannot learn to be a corporate leader from playing World of Warcraft because the two contexts (what David calls epistemic frames) don't match.

I tend to agree. My answer to that problem is to take one step back. To look at the game design instead of the game. And to see how you can apply game design to improve the design of organizations.

1 comment:

Vincent said...


interesting post. I'm still arguing with myself on the statement presented by David Williamson Shaffer. I tend to (dis)agree (or I might have read it incorrectly).

I agree on the fact that isolated skills don't transfer easily. But, are they so isolated? I think there is truth in the fact one cannot "learn" to become a business leader solely on playing a MMORPG and being a guild leader. But if for instance, besides the gamer you are, you are also a trainer at a sports club, the chairman of a student organization, the captain of your team, et cetera, et cetera...

When reading Manfred Kets de Vries, I got a good insight in the different aspects that "aid" in becoming a leader (or being one; imho both are possible).

I think being a guild leader aids in the process, it isn't the sole driver. I think this is a common human anomaly: when something new comes we tend to think "that this is so disruptional, it surpasses all before". I tend to disagree on that one...