Gamification, the introduction of elements of play in everyday life, has gained traction in management sciences – as a way to lure participants to achieve pre-defined objectives.
What we do with LEAF Inspiring Change is radically different. We bring real life issues to the universe of gaming, as a way to better address these realities. The games we design have no pre-defined victory conditions. We give freedom to our clients to explore new strategies, break and create new rules, in their quest for innovative solutions. We invite the clients to explore all possible outcomes rather than force them into a narrow path. Unlike in real life, it is possible to start again from scratch, revisiting errors and exploring new solutions. The synergy between mindful facilitation and the games ensures the lessons from the game sessions are taken to the full, and the client is able to establish links between the game and the real world. We empower our clients and help them make better decisions.
What kind of problems do we address?
There are simple problems and complex problems. The former have clear solutions, whereas the latter require time, money and brains, but in the end, can be solved. And then there are wicked problems.
Wicked problems involve multiple stakeholders, that all disagree on what the problem is. They have conflicting agendas, there is uncertainty at many levels, opposing worldviews. These problems cannot be solved, no matter what amount of money one throws at them. They can only be addressed. And most of us don’t know how.
Standard handling of wicked problems, such as breaking down the complexity into smaller, easier-to-deal-with components, have proven to be inadequate. In most cases technical top-down approaches fail to provide a way forward and the problem holds nasty surprises, with mounting frustration as progress is stalled or even new facets of the problem cropping, sometimes even worse than the ones that initiated the process. Wicked problems are not new, researchers acknowledged for the first time in 1973. They have been identified in many different fields, from natural resource management to urban planning to business management. However, there is a long way from labelling a wicked problem to successfully addressing it.
We refined an innovative approach to tackle wicked problems. It relies on two elements, facilitation and the use of models, more specifically strategy games tailor-suited to the problem at hand. The process of model design takes into account the perspectives of the different stakeholders – with their values and aspiration – as well as their capacity to learn and adapt to evolving conditions. Classical approaches often overlook these components that ultimately determine the future of the systems. Taking them into account is critical for the success of any strategy developed to address the problem.
We combine people’s perceptions and existing scientific knowledge to develop the adaptive capabilities of our customers.
We engage stakeholders through a process of exploration, learning, adaptation and creation. Thus our models are evolving until solutions are found.
If you want to here more about our concept, listen to the TED talk given by Claude Garcia during the TED X event in Zürich.