Simulation Games: A Way to Improve Communication in the Team

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The most important part of the game is a debriefing. During debriefing, participants have the opportunity to share their insights, experiences, and ideas. The final "brainstorm" is the time when the team develops new standards of cooperation and solves problems.

Simulation Game Example
HydroExtreme is a game designed to improve communication in an agile team. The game takes place in a small dive center. During the game, players become dive center staff and a customer who wants to take part in a dangerous underwater expedition. The team of divers is organizing a fantastic trip that will meet customer requirements, quality of service, and safety standards. Unfortunately, the customer is a beginner who lacks experience in recreational diving. But, he wants to go down to the bottom of the dive tank and enter the wreck of a sunken aircraft. There is one main goal for the dive team—to satisfy the customer. Each player also has a private task to perform, which in some cases may prevent the team from achieving a common goal.

The game is constructed to highlight the weaknesses in the team’s current procedures. The aim is to inspire the players to discuss how to modify and optimize their processes. The game consists of four main stages, each of which may consist of any number of sub-steps, depending on the needs of the team. After each sub-stage, players have time to discuss the current situation, analyze the mistakes, and try to design effective solutions. Everything takes place in an informal atmosphere to provide a sense of security and comfort. The gamification element stimulates team member’s creativity and engagement.

During the first stage, participants use their current communication procedures to accomplish their tasks. During the second stage, players have the opportunity to learn about alternative approaches, test them, and evaluate. The third stage is the time for the players to create their own solution. The last part of the game is verifying the final solution and then implementing the new process.

Here’s an example of the first stage of HydroExtreme:

DummyGuy will soon celebrate his fortieth birthday. His daily life is calm and peaceful, so he decides to do something crazy. Fascinated by the colorful stories of wrecks, DummyGuy decides to SCUBA dive in nearby waters. He had never been diving before, but he is adventurous and wealthy. After a bit of research, DummyGuy found a company that promised to "fulfill underwater dreams." DummyGuy quickly packed a towel and swimwear, and started a trip of a lifetime.

DummyGuy goal: Participate in extreme expedition (dive a dangerous wreck).

DummyGuy task: Persuade the dive center staff to make his dream come true. He withholds information about his lack of skill and experience.

Dive staff goal: Fulfill customer requirements (design underwater expedition). Dive center is in a difficult financial situation, which motivates the divers to do anything to satisfy the customer.

During the first stage the team has a chance to look at their current communication methods. The first stage is designed to end up with failure. At this point we are planning how to minimize weak points and find the causes of bright spots. During the next stages, players have a chance to introduce small fixes, design, and test new methods. The goal of the last phase is to make players confident and happy; they need to feel the power of their new communication framework. The underwater expeditions ends up happily.

Simulation Game Advantages
The most important part of the game is debriefing after each stage. Participants have the opportunity to share comments, thoughts, and ideas. Having this knowledge and experience, players can design their own effective solutions during next stages. It is also the initial phase of implementation of the new procedure. Active involvement in the process of change creation has a positive impact on its adoption and reduces time of implementation [5].

About the author

Monika Konieczny's picture Monika Konieczny

Monika Konieczny graduated from the Faculty of Computer Science in Poznań. Monika is a PhD student at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In her research she studies broad aspects of the soft project management, especially effective motivation and use of gamification and simulation games to make the team happier :) and more productive. She works as a Director of Engineering/Scrum Master at Archer, where she coordinates the work of the teams (distributed and on-site) creating tools necessary to run mobile adds campaigns. Monika is interested in traveling around the world, diving and photography.

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