Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Great ILS Challenge

Presentation: The Great ILS Challenge
Mark Oehlert - Referee, Defense Acqusition University
Jan Cannon-Bowers - DOD, Institute for Simulation and Training
Kevin Corti - PIXIE Learning
Alan Levine - The New Media Consortium (cogdogblog)


Intro: This is not about fast implementation. Focus on whatever you need to do to get people to learn.

Challenge: You are a CLO. Your company has just acquired 2 other companies with vastly different cultural backgrounds (Asian - South Korea and African). Have to meld the divisions quickly. What can you create to get the divisions working together.

BTW - Annual stockholder meeting coming soon. (time pressure)

Jan Cannon-Bowers

Game Requirements
What do we need the game to accomplish?
- Build shared organizational culture
- Develop Common Understanding
- Build effective teams

Desired outcomes
- Maintain productivity (short-term)
- Improve workforce efficiency and performance (long-term)
- Impress shareholders (Stressful)

How to do this?
- Consult the literature - teams and team tracking, learning science, game-based learning.
- Collect best practices - organizational, game design, training
- Hire brilliant multi-disciplinary team (artists, SMEs, designers, etc)

What research says
- Shared Knowledge and Mental Models.
- Interpositional knowledge
- Cross training
- Back up Behavior
- Closed Loop Communication
- Goal: Implicit Coordination. See the world from the perspective of teammates. Minimal discussion - stuff just happens organically.

Initial idea - MMOG (Multi-Player Game)
- Foster collaboration among players - MMOG forces folks to collaborate
- Vicarious learning - Watching other people. Can scaffold performance by having more senior player help junior player. Can also model roles.
- Build Interpersonal Relationships - Guilds and team-level outcomes. Success of team dependent on team-members

Is MMOG the right solution - Constraints?
- Socio-economic differences
- Mix of languages, backgrounds, etc
- Folks in different time zones

Anericans - 40% have access to internet. Account for 27% of world total

Asia - 14% have access to internet. 38% of total. South Korea - 71% and familiar with MMOGs. Major part of culture. Kids ostracized for not playing Maple Story.

Africa - 5% of Africans have access. 4% (or less) of World's total. Almost no computer access.
- MMOGs fail several requirements Infrastructure differences, experience levels. Might lead to poor team building.

What would work in Africa?
- Games that don't require technology (Board and card games)
- Board games - expensive to manufacture, easy to lose pieces, hard to modify
- Card games
+ Fixed deck (Poker, Uno)
+ Collectable (Magic, Pokemon)

Collectable card games
- Good - print in any language, cheap, graphical, play on own time
- Bad - lose shared culture thing, lose common understanding, maybe too low tech (US and Korea)

Decided - Workplace Magic - the virtual gathering
- Combine MMOG and Collectable Card Game
- Anyone who want to play card game pair with those playing with MMO.
- Gotta play well with both.

MMOG side
- Player explores virtual environment that mimics 3 work location
- Learn about functions and processes at each location
- During game, players collect cards for the collectable card game
- Can also plan Duals. for card playing partner. (can schedule who will play who in the card game

Card side
- Players build deck based on what the MMO player finds.
- Game play relates directly to function and processes of company
- Winner earns rewards for the MMO player

Does it meet the goals? Yes.
- Implicit coordination - game requires players to anticipate needs of teammate
- Backup behavior - can monitor and correct behavior of teammates
- Cross training/ Interpositional Knowledge - game requires players to learn more about each other.

Kevin Corti

Quantify the Objectives - Organization and audience needs / modes of use etc
Picked through request and pick up potential objectives

Question and change a bit so more quantifiable
- What do I (the ILS designer) need to understand?
+ Why did they acquire them?
+ What are they trying to achieve?
+ Where do acquisitions go wrong?
+ What factors influence this? Priorities?
+ How do successful companies leverage diversity?
+ How do companies undertake "merger repair?"
+ Who is my audience? - Leadership, Sr. Mgmt
- OK - how do I leverage the "power of difference?"
- Realized, success determined by abilities, attitudes of people and their environment.
- How do we get all on board working towards common purpose?

Research - understand practical issues and challenges
- Time zone differences
- Different processes
- May need to point to presentation. He's talking very fast.

Design walkthrough

Sell it to the Board - Time, Costs, ROI

His steps once he gets all of his information
- Embellish the back story.
- Focus on the goal(s)
- Went through each of his options and game-types.

Decided on Blended Game-Space learning.

2 types
- Single Player mode - for leadership and newbies and folks with low bandwidth. Success dependent upon meeting the business objectives defined by the board.

- Collaborative player mode - Force them to work as a time and undermine the acquisition. Destroy the business. Achieve catstrophic failure. Thinking - more fun and if understand what goes wrong, can better avoid it in the real world.

Make sure give many options. (again - need to look at the presentation. Can't type fast enough.) The presentation will give the jist of the structure.

Level design
- Level 1
+ Pitch for the project. Unveil background/tell explicit tasks and hint at hidden ones
+ Teach them how to use the tools
+ Introduce characters
+ If get enough information, can go to next level.

- Level 2
+Objective - convince CEOs
+ Add limited resources
+ Interview NPCs
+ Collaborate with team
+ Did you meet minimum criteria

At each level - earlier decisions can bite them later. Challenges / objectives harder. Resources more limited. More red herrings and random events. Higher levels - embed mini-games. Released just before you need them for the main task.

Final part outside of game - take the virtual experience. Implement for real.
- High score chart and performance benchmarking
- Communication, relationship-building, expereince sharing, mentoring, P2P support, internal communities of interest.
- Ideas, suggestion, feedback look for senior management.

- 2 months intensive design, 3 months intensive development, 2 months testing and debug. $500K.
- ROI - global dominance. Priceless.

Alan Levine

Mulled over the issue. What really unifies us?
- Mothers!

Built a prototype - music and picture presentation (which I hope will be posted).

Can you think of anything more challenging than teaching your Mom to use a computer?
- Connects to technology.

Solution - bring Mom into virtual world. Mom + technology.

OK - trans-global international company (ACME).
- ACME diversified from anvils to everything (cars to toilet brushes)
- (think Wile E. Coyote / Road Runner)
- ACME acquires company in Gabon. That company - oil and beer and transportation
- ACME (acquired company 2) starts in Korea (13th century) - wanted the voice

OK - 24 hour coverage with handoff times.

Bring your virtual mom to work day.
- Help real-world Mom enter the virtual world. ACME has access to "rent-a-Mom", but better to have real mom do it
- By end - rent-a-mom will know what work you do.

There is a survey - how much of the avatar was done by yourself?
- did have embedded technology - recording in real-time actual time with mouse. Looking for unusual patterns.

ACME has a virtual office in the virtual world.
- Past - virtual exhibit of history of ACME. Have to carefully pull out of the clip. Mom helps you bring back some historical artifacts. Embed Mom's story into the exhibit. Do for each new company.

- Present - Starts with virtual reception center / business center. Still 3 different cultures. As go higher, cultures merge more.

- Future - The laboratory. Not built yet. Do modeling and prototyping in this space.

Assessment - how Acme is doing -ask Mom. Everyone must do it.



Mark: How would the design process be different if we were asked to build a course rather than a game?

Jan: Easier to build a course because it is more familiar. We understand courseware. The interactive part throws a loop. The key is interactivity. Both with people and artifacts.

Kevin: Easier. Familiar.

Alan: I thought you would have given us a harder problem.

Mark: If we looked at this as a way to evaluate the acquisition beforehand. How would that change the design process.

Kevin: My game much better at that. If you gave people at all levels opportunity to experiment, I think the integration would happen more smoothly.

Alan: Have result be the actual acquisition.


My thoughts - I like Jan and Co's consideration of the technical issues that may confront the players. 2 of them used a low-tech/high-tech blend. Jan in her game design (cards and MMOGs), Kevin in his post-game exercises.

The Mom idea was cool - where I see this working better is encouraging people to get to know each other outside the "workspace" through their Moms (though I can see this being a very emotionally charged issue).

Cool session.


Angela White said...

I'm at the conference too and we haven't met in person yet (that I know of). Are you here Thursday? Tracy and I have been sitting in the second row right in front of the stage for the keynotes if you want to try to meet. I'm on the AG08 Meebo channel as cupoflizard...

Alan said...

Closest approximation to my slideshow are linked from

Thanks for the write up notes