Friday, April 11, 2008

Presentation at Game Research Lab Spring Seminar

This is the presentation that Marinka Copier and I gave yesterday at the Game Research Lab Spring Seminar in Tampere, Finland. Overall it was a high quality seminar with interesting papers and fruitful discussions.

With regards to our presentation, I would say that people in the game studies community are curious as well as hopeful about the application of game design principles in education and organizations. On a conceptual level, there are some issues with our approach that were discussed. I will not bother you with those here. Some members of the audience wondered why we look at game design in specific as a source of inspiration. What is wrong with traditional organization design, they asked. One of the problems is, of course, that these traditional organizational structures are not fitting anymore for our current (network) society and for the new generation entering the labor market. Also, there has traditionally been a tendency towards "overdesign" in organizations (describing and prescribing everything down to the smallest procedure). Game designers know that this doesn't work and have developed ways around this problem.

However, what we took away from those discussions is that the time has come to test our ideas in the field and come back with some case studies. Conceptually, we have gone as far as we can go.

What was interesting to note is that not everyone agrees that interesting and new types of behavior can be observed in World of Warcraft. Almost diametrically opposed to our view was a presentation by Stef Aupers and Dick Houtman of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Based on their research, they argued that the social pressure experienced by team leaders in World of Warcraft was indicative of bureaucratic structures being imported into this environment. However, one of the commentators pointed out that you could also interpret their results as an indication of bottom-up organizations: the fact that the team members have so much power causes stress for the team leaders.

One of the most important questions that kept going through my head while listening to the different presentations was: how can you design an environment inside an organization that creates room to fail and thus allows for trial-and-error? Because that seems to be both one of the most promising as well as one of the most difficult things that game design has to offer to other domains. Promising because trial-and-error means (organizational) learning and innovation. Difficult because it is the game context itself that creates the necessary safe environment for this behavior. Here is a little insight into how Blizzard (the company behind World of Warcraft) deals with this. But there were many other ideas related to this that came up during this seminar and that Marinka and I will be exploring further. And more importantly, that we'll be testing out in the field later this year.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Enteprise 2.0, an adhoc or a strategic approach

What do you do? Choose a adhoc approach to enterprise 2.0 and just let it happen in your company or choose a more strategic approach and build an enterprise wide platform? The AIIM report is very clear, an enteprise wide approach will get the best results. Because everybody uses the same platform it is far more easier to find your stuff and collaborate with everyone. Think about the problems you get using three project collaboration platforms inside your company. Due to the three platforms your projects will be set in silo's and projectteams will be formed by the platform and not the capabilities of each teammember.

But do you have to roll out to every part of your organization. When you truely believe in the wisdom of the crowds you have to give everybody access to the enterprise 2.0 platform. But enterprise 2.0 will only be used by knowledge and collaboration intensive parts of your comapny. Not everybody will use it so why give them access? These other parts just need other platforms and applications to do their jobs.

Another thought on this is that the adhoc approach is the ultimate user control. Everybody in the enteprise can just start an enterprise 2.0 application and look what happens. The need for integration will come eventually and then it will get done.

In rolling out culture is a very important factor. Digital work and enteprise 2.0 is more culture then technology. Almost everybody uses office applications and stores documents on a network drive, but is this digital working and are you ready to really use an enterprise 2.0 platform?

I think a strategic approach to the right parts of your organization will yield the most benefits. Culture must be ready to even start with this enterprise wide!

What do you think? Let me know and lets discuss this!