In Good Company

ASTD just put out an article on the applicability of games to innovation and learning by Pat Galagan.


I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for the piece….even more so when the only others interviewed were John Seely Brown and Clark Aldrich….two gents who I really respect and admire.

A few excerpts follow:

    Good performers have what Tony O’Driscoll, a professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, calls “reputational capital.” “What you have accomplished and how your performance has been assessed by other players is open for all to see.” Capability is so transparent that players cannot fake their skills.

    Preparing for and executing raids is a popular activity in WoW. After each raid, the spoils—such as captured weapons and clothing and other virtual trophies—are divvied up immediately. “There’s a tight link between accomplishment of activity and remuneration for it,” says O’Driscoll, referring to part of the game environment that drives engagement and performance.

    Tony O’Driscoll believes that multiplayer role-playing games are a rough proxy for the work environment that lies ahead and that they offer clues to leadership in the future. Certain of their characteristics, such as nonmonetary performance incentives, data that can be seen by all, and temporary leadership roles that allow practice leading to mastery, could be important in organizations of the future.

    “The enterprise of the future will be small, global, knowledge-driven, and dependent on web-enabled partnerships. Such organizations require a different kind of leadership,” O’Driscoll says. In the MMORPG world, leadership is a task, not an identity.

You can check out the full article here.

Or print the PDF from here.


Interview in New Online Journal

A colleague from IBM interviewed me for a new online journal called Transformative Works and Cultures.

A few quotes from the interview to whet your appetite:

    Whether you come at it from the gaming industry perspective or from the perspective of gaming sensibilities making their way into industry in general, at core is the fact that as we move from a world where we connect to the Web to one where we connect through and within it, the enriched communication and social interaction is changing how we live, work, and play.

    In the services-driven, information-age economy, the need for collaborative cocreation of new offerings at the edge of the enterprise is becoming increasingly important. This in turn raises the question whether the bureaucracy that was created to optimize efficiency in the industrial age is the best enterprise governance system to drive innovation and creativity in the information age

    I believe that as we become further immersed in the information age, it will become increasingly important to invoke play into daily work to cut through the routine and mundaneness associated with many analyst-type roles. We are already seeing this pop up in different industries where gaming techniques and incentive schema are being applied for everything from recognizing and naming craters on a newly identified planet to coming up with a commercial spacecraft.

To read the whole interview you can read it here.

HBR: Leadership’s Online Labs

I was in the Houston Airport today and saw that the May edition of HBR has finally hit the stands.

Byron Reeves, Tom Malone and I have an article in the issue that talks about two research projects we conducted looking at the application of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) and their application to Leadership. I have talked a lot about his research in previous blog posts that you can read here.

This is a big day for those of us who study learning, leadership and virtual world technologies ; )

A very well respected business journal talking about gaming and learning. I must say that I am very proud to have been part of this effort. On that note, credit is due to a number of folks who made this article happen. This research could not have happened without the foresight of David Yaun, VP of Communicaitons at IBM who leads the GIO project among other key innovation initiatives. Furthermore, beyond David’s insight, without the ongoing support and guidance from Kris Lichter, Director of the GIO program, it would never have been realized. Finally, when it came to the running the internal survey with IBMers who were also gamers my colleagues Eric Lesser and Michael DeMarco were instrumental in driving this work to completion.

18 months ago I shared with Tom Stewart the research we were doing and suggested that HBR readers might find it of interest. He put us in touch with Paul Hemp who was wonderful in helping take our research and helping us craft it into a piece worthy of publishing in HBR.

Today, a year and a half later, I see the article in glorious technicolor print in Houston. It has been a long journey, kinda like getting to level 70 in WoW, but we made it!

Thanks to all. Publishing in HBR truly is a collaborative, co-creative sport!

Blog Book Tour Stop: Gadgets, Games and Gizmos

I am honored that Karl asked me to participate in his Blog Book tour. I have had the good fortune of working with Karl on a few projects and I have always found that our interactions really pushed my thinking in new directions when it comes to how the relentless pace of technological evolution creates gadgets, gizmos and games for learning.

In many ways, Karl’s latest oeuvre is a proxy for interacting with the man himself. If your experience is like mine, as you read through the chapters your mind will be stretched in all kinds of new directions as to the as-yet-untapped potential that all this technology affords us as learning professionals.


Being the Web 2.0 guy that he is. Karl also has a companion site to the book that should not be missed. Click here to check it out.

In this book, Karl really has his finger on the pulse of what I believe is a strategic-inflection point where emerging technologies will fundamentally recreate how we conceive of and conduct learning within and outside the enterprise.

I also particularly enjoy Karl’s strategy of learning how this future will become manifest by looking at it through the eyes of his kids. I have two boys that are five years younger than Nathan and Nicholas, but already I am beginning to see signs that the tables will be changing very soon for me where I am the learner and they are the wise ones.

If you have not read this book you are missing out in a big way. Actually, you are really getting two books for the price of one as no-one told Karl that he should stop after 200 pages.

So go ahead, click here, press “buy” and let the games begin ; 0

Games and Learning? Getting Serious!

Well it has finally happened ; )

As part of IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook 2.0, I have been working for about a year on looking at the application of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) to learning. I have written a lot about this in earlier posts on this blog, but today I can finally point you to the research itself.

This research, done in conjunction with Byron Reeves (Stanford), Tom Malone (MIT), Seriosity, and Eric Lesser and Mike DeMarco from IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV), was announced at the MIT and IBM Virtual Worlds: Where Business, Technology and Society Converge conference.

Virtual World News was kind enough to liveblog the event so if you were unable to attend, you can see what was said. I’d draw your attention to the panel discussion led by Mitch Kapor where Tom Malone goes into some of the findings from the research. It can be found here.

The press was there too, Business week gave us a nice plug in the print magazine (see below) and there is even more about it in the online version that you can read here.

To get a succinct overview of the research you can listen to an 8 minute podcast here.

The first piece of work looked at gamers in their natural habitat. We used the Sloan Leadership Model to examine leader behavior in games. You can find the write up from that work here.

The second piece of work then took the findings from Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders and validated the findings via survey research with 214 IBMers who are both experienced leaders and guild leaders. You can find this write up here.

It is a privilege to work for a company that had the vision to spend the time studying this space. It was an honor to work such fantastic folks on this research. We sincerely hope that this work helps open the aperture about the possibilities at the intersection of Virtual Worlds and Learning.