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Transforming Organizational Work Culture Performances with Cascade Effect War Games

David John Patrishkoff, President, E3 – Extreme Enterprise Efficiency, Orlando, FL, USA

Keywords: Military War Games, Business War Games, Cascading Risks

Industry: All

Level: Intermediate

Abstract

War Games, in the context of real military or business war games, are intended to elevate the self-confidence and competency levels for professionals in a fast-moving gaming environment that requires rapid and multiple decision-making responses to protect your organization from harm or defeat in a simulated battle. The word “battle” is a literal term for military war games. However, for businesses, the term “battle” refers to an organization’s attempts to achieve stretch goals while wowing internal and external customers and outsmarting competitors. War Game participants may be exposed to many diverse, unique, and aggressive attack scenarios in a short period of game play time. War gamers can be exposed to more attack scenarios in these games then they may be exposed to over their entire lifetime outside of the game. These “friendly fire” learning experiences can offer game players with an unprecedented opportunity to master new skills in the shortest period possible with war games that closely simulate reality.

Most, if not all of the military and business war games currently in use are designed to improve the strategic skills of top leaders with little or no inputs from the rest of the organization. This represents a major shortcoming as well as an opportunity for improvement. War Game designs should offer broad organizational participation and learning experiences to rapidly develop more professionals as great future leaders.

Another shortcoming of the current war gaming environment for military and business war games is that they do not include the impacts of the organizational cultural health on the outcome of the war game. Peter Drucker, a famous management consultant, offers a great tip that applies to war game designers who only focus on strategy: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. We can refer to the class of war games that only focuses on strategy and external enemies or competitors as 180-degree scoped war games. Organizations need to supplement these existing 180-degree scoped war games with inward-probing cultural risk war games to offer 360-degree protection and success of the organization.

This presentation will document a new family of war games that is referred to as Cascading Organizational War Games that fills both before-mentioned gaps in the current war gaming environment. This comment should not be construed as a declaration of war against other war games but rather food for thought to expand the family of war games to offer 360-degree protection for organizations. After all, war games are probably the lowest cost methods of testing new strategies and defenses in a semi-realistic environment.

The author of this presentation has facilitated Cascading Organizational War Games at the Pentagon because the military had never seen this type of war game before and wanted to test it. These war games run at the Pentagon tested the defenses of US Air Force facilities against internal Cascading Organizational attacks. Four different random attack scenarios were run against selected military facilities with a card-based war game. The attackers in this war game were not of a military nature but were the theoretical cultural weaknesses of the organizations themselves.

The attack scenarios run in this Pentagon war game created great theoretical internal damage to the organization’s efficiency, effectiveness, and mission readiness. These War Games launched the worst-case cultural seeds of self-destruction in the most realistic cascading attack manner possible to see how the gaming participants would react. With Cascading Organizational War Games, we learn that undesirable Organizational Cascade Effects can disable the effectiveness of any healthy culture and strategy with the stealthy flash of a destructive cascade. In its full War Game mode, the participants are tasked to brainstorm methods and to create detailed action plans to fight back, with the help of various realistic best practice tips displayed on cards, defense and counter-attack templates, war gaming guides, learning pyramids, worksheets, counter-attack training videos, game rule videos, and other learning resources. This game can be run in unsupervised or in umpired mode which ensures that the war game rules are maintained and that all proposed actions are feasible, detailed and realistic.

These new cascading cultural risk assessment methods have also been developed for another government agency to identify internal organizational risks. These same risk assessment methods have also been applied at other non-government organizations in varying levels of applications to solve serious mission-critical problems in a short period of time. These methods can be applied to any size of organization and group.

Extensive research has been conducted that supports the foundation of these Cascading Organizational War Games and its 57 different organizational weaknesses and 57 best practices to counter the organizational risks.


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