"FLOW is Good Business" (FLIGBY) project at CEU Executive MBA

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Information about "FLOW is Good Business" (FLIGBY) project at CEU Executive MBA
Business & Mgmt

Published on February 3, 2014

Author: zadvecsey



“When Developing Managers and Leaders, Have Them Play Games...” - It’s one of your first days as a general manager of a small, family-owned winery in California. Minutes into a meeting with your new executive team, your sales manager insults your tasting room/hospitality manager. Do you continue the meeting as if nothing happened or reprimand the sales manager in front of the group?
That is one of the opening scenes of “FLOW is Good Business,” or FLIGBY, a 23-part management and leadership simulation game that executive MBA students at CEU Business School recently completed in Professor Paul Marer’s “Strategic Management” course.

FLIGBY®  at  the  CEU  Business  School       “When  Developing  Managers  and  Leaders,  Have  Them  Play  Games…”   It’s  one  of  your  first  days  as  a  general  manager  of  a  small,  family-­‐owned  winery  in  California.  Minutes  into  a   meeting  with  your  new  executive  team,  your  sales  manager  insults  your  tasting  room/hospitality  manager.  Do   you  continue  the  meeting  as  if  nothing  happened  or  reprimand  the  sales  manager  in  front  of  the  group?   That   is   one   of   the   opening   scenes   of   “FLOW   is   Good   Business,”   or   FLIGBY,   a   23-­‐part   management   and   leader-­‐ ship   simulation   game   that   executive   MBA   students   at   CEU   Business   School   recently   completed   in   Professor   Paul  Marer’s  “Strategic  Management”  course.      “The   game   teaches   effective   ways   to   manage,”explained   Professor   Marer,   who   played   an   advisory   role   in   developing  FLIGBY.  “A  manager  or  leader  must  deal  with  personal  conflicts  and  reconcile  multiple  objectives,   such  as  profitability  and  sustainability,  to  arrive  at  a  long-­‐term  strategy  that  most  everyone  can  enthusiastical-­‐ ly  support  and  implement  in  the  nitty-­‐gritty  of  day-­‐to-­‐day  management  and  almost  continuous  interruptions.”     In  addition  to  those  obvious  managerial  objectives,  a  key  focus  of  the  game  is  putting  people  into  “flow.”  Flow   is  a  theorized  state  in  which  a  person  is  so  engaged  and  motivated  by  a  particular  activity  that  he  or  she  ig-­‐ nores  all  other  concerns,  like  time  and  hunger.  You  could  call  it  “being  in  the  zone.”  When  in  flow,  managers   and  staff  are  most  inspired,  and  thus  most  productive,  a  win-­‐win  for  the  individual  and  the  organization.   FLIGBY,  which  won  a  gold  medal  at  last  year’s  international  Serious  Play  Conference,  is  based  on  the  work  of   Professor   Mihaly   Csikszentmihalyi,   creator   of   the   flow   theory.   He   emigrated   from   Hungary   to   the   United   States   at   age   22   and   became   an   internationally   famous   researcher,   professor   of   psychology   and   writer.   His   insights  have  been  used  to  help  people  become  more  satisfied  with  their  lives  and  make  organizations  more   effective.       ALEAS  Simulations,  Inc.,  California,     v1.0   1  

In  FLIGBY,  the  player  assumes  the  role  of  a  new  general  manager  whose  predecessor  sapped  his  employees’   morale.  The  player  watches  short  clips  of  team  interactions  and  one-­‐on-­‐one  exchanges  with  members  of  the   executive   team.   At  points   during  a   scene   or  conversation,  the   player  must   decide   between   options   on   how   to   act.  Once  decided,  the  scene  resumes  based  on  the  option  selected.  Along  the  way,  the  game  keeps  score  of   the  player’s  performance  and  a  neutral  third-­‐party,  Mr.  Fligby,  tells  the  player  what  he  or  she  did  right  and   what  facts  or  subtleties  the  player  missed.  Over  the  course  of  the  game,  the  player  makes  150  decisions  and  is   tested  in  29  competency  areas  —  from  conflict  management  to  communication  skills.  The  game  takes  seven   to   nine   hours   for   most   to   complete.   At   its   conclusion,   a   feedback   report   shows   players   their   strengths   and   weakness  in  an  effort  to  make  them  better  managers  and  leaders.   In   Professor   Marer’s   class,   students   earned   points   equal   to   about   20%   of   their   course   grade   based   on   how   they  played  the  game.  They  received  a  maximum  of  10  additional  points  for  earning  a  high  score  and  for  class   participation  during  the  post-­‐game  debriefing  where  they  reflected  on  their  experiences.   At   that   debriefing,   students   remarked   on   how   the   situations   FLIGBY   placed   them   in   not   only   challenged   them   to   manage   complicated   employees   and   a   fractured   team,   but   also   to   manage   their   own   reactions   to   what   many  would  consider  unprofessional  behavior.  And  while  some  of  that  behavior  is  extreme,  it’s  all  too  familiar   to  many.    “I  have  had  students  say  that  characters  in  the  game  reminded  them  of  their  current  boss  or  colleague,”  ex-­‐ plained  Professor  Zoltan  Buzady,  director  of  CEU  Business  School’s   MBA  programs,  who  has  used  similar  role-­‐ playing  games  by  FLIGBY’s  creator,  the  e-­‐learning  company  ALEAS,  in  his  leadership  and  organizational  behav-­‐ ior  courses.   Zsadany   “ZAD”   Vecsey,   founder   of   ALEAS,   which   is   based   in   California   and   Hungary,   explained   how   he   and   Csikszentmihalyi   approached   FLIGBY’s   development.   He   said   that   they   followed   universal   rules   of   gaming,   mainly  that  “you  have  to  win  something,”  and  the  idea  that  “it  should  be  fun  and  motivating  while  education-­‐ al.”    “FLIGBY  and  similar  games  are  the  next  step   in  business  education  after  case  studies,”  said  Professor  Buzady.   “They  bring  business  scenarios  to  life.  Full-­‐time  MBA  students,  who  typically  have  fewer  years  of  work  experi-­‐ ence,   find   the   game   beneficial   because,   unlike   in   the   real-­‐world,   there   are   no   wrong   decisions.   Executive   MBAs,   many   in   managerial   positions   currently,   also   enjoy   the   game   because   they   can   immediately   put   the   learning  into  practice.”   Anita   Somloi,   a   member   of   Professor   Marer’s   “Strategic   Management”   course   and   a   supervisory   examiner   for   the  USAID  Representative  Office  in  Budapest,  expressed  a  similar  perspective.  “I  could  get  out  of  my  comfort   zone  by  making  a  decision  I  might  be  reluctant  to  make  in  a  real  setting,”  she  said.  “And  I  could  see  the  impact   of  my  choices  in  a  safe  environment.”   How   does   that   “safe   environment”   compare   to   the   actual   work   place?   Jitesh   Jayarajan,   also   a   member   of   the   class  and  head  of  pre-­‐sales  and  business  solutions  at  TATA  Consulting  Services  in  Budapest,  thinks  real  life  is   easier.  “In  real  life  you  have  more  options  and  time  to  talk  to  people,”  he  said.  His  classmate,  Nenad  Apos-­‐ toloski,  a  senior  IT  expert  for  IPA  Project  in  Macedonia,  had  a  different  take:  “The  game  is  easier  than  real  life.   In  real  life,  people  don’t  come  to  you  as  much.  You  need  to  go  to  them  when  you  sense  something  isn’t  right.”     ALEAS  Simulations,  Inc.,  California,     v1.0   2  

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