How is Gamification Revolutionizing Training?
At first, I was afraid, I was petrified…to mention the 4 letter ‘G’ word to clients. I’m embarrassed to admit that ten years ago I scolded my team when they talked about our serious business sim being a mere ‘game’. Back then I believed that accomplished B2B global leaders would not pay for their team to spend valuable company time playing games.
Yet, it’s become trendy to use gamification in training courses. But what is gamification good for? In this post, I will share with you our discoveries from using our sim game as the core component of our negotiation training with clients such as Honeywell, ABB, Cisco, Skanska, Collins, and IAG.
Why Create a Game?
Creating software is expensive and time-consuming. So why do it? We were frustrated with the limitations imposed on our facilitators by classroom training. Allow me to explain.
Think of a course you took that included role-play exercises. Do you remember the facilitator’s feedback at the end of the exercise? I’ll bet it was heavily focused on your final outcome. What’s wrong with that? That’s like a sports coach giving their team feedback after the final whistle, but having little to say about how each player performed, or areas each should improve upon. With a classroom of participants, facilitators struggle to keep track of all your moments of brilliance and your mistakes. This has completely changed thanks to gamification.
Now, ten years later, when I look through our graduates’ feedback forms and scored assessments (3 months post-training), the most loved part of our courses is our sim game. So, how has gamification in training succeeded in winning our hearts?
Beat Your Colleagues
Negotiation calls for a healthy level of (friendly) competition, and everyone loves talking about where they’re at on the leaderboards. Our leaderboards and many feedback graphs work on a point-scoring system.
We’ve figured out how to convert the business value into a point-scoring system. When an agreement is reached, graphs emerge, answering questions such as who won, who lost, if negotiators or teams achieved the much-vaunted win-win, and how much gold was left on the negotiation table.
Don’t Miss a Beat
The sim game keeps track of every offer made: the good, the bad, and the ugly. This enables facilitators and negotiators to pinpoint the moment leverage was used, when value was created, who claimed it, and when value was given away. This is the equivalent of a coach giving each player detailed blow-by-blow feedback on their match performance.
The result? An explosion of light bulbs flashing creates satisfying “aha” moments, as players finally pinpoint their areas of need and how to improve, dramatically accelerating behavioral change and delivering increased confidence and skills.
Big Data Breakthroughs
One of the biggest gifts the negotiation sim game has given us has come from our analysis of hundreds of negotiators’ games. Remember, our participants are using the sim game to negotiate their way through true-to-life business deals. We have uncovered the most successful negotiation habits and the most common, painful mistakes that hurt your bottom line. These powerful new insights allowed us to rewrite key elements of our negotiation curriculum. I’m not ashamed to say that we were placing our focus in the wrong areas before we had the data to show us the right way. We fell into the trap of following the herd. What was the herd doing?
Another insight we found is that the Pareto rule holds true in negotiations. This knowledge means our clients can focus on the 20% of negotiations that reward them with 80% of business value. This translates into dramatically accelerated learning curves. The herd squanders most of their training time studying things like the minutia of interpersonal communication. This typically includes your body language, tone of voice, and wording your questions and responses. We used to slow everything down in the classroom to use wide-screen video recordings, and then we would analyze the video footage on the big screen for the class. While this is entertaining, we now know this doesn’t move the negotiation value needle.
What Really Matters?
By contrast, our sim’s graphs and other data points enable us to track and explain over 90% of the drivers in any deal. What does this mean for negotiators? For the first time, negotiators learn which pivotal moments caused their deals to be win-win or lose-win. We pinpoint negotiators’ strongest and weakest offers. For most deals, even in the early stages, the sim enables us to predict who will come out with the win and by how much.
What are some of the key success habits of the most successful negotiators?
- Make the first offer and anchor it.
- Have a target in mind, and use decreasing increments to hit your target.
- Be mindful of the styles holding sway and be alert to influence those styles. Styles are competition, collaboration, compromise, accommodation, and avoidance.
- Craft your meeting’s agenda and send it before the meeting, using a sequence that keeps you in control and allows you to use your leverage.
- Two heads are always better than one, so buddy up and at least prepare together on the deals that matter.
- Use pre-meetings to gather vital information, build a good relationship, and set the style for the negotiation.
At the start of our courses, even with highly experienced negotiators, almost everyone is unconscious and on auto-pilot for the above crucial value drivers. We have a webinar where we unpack the above lessons and more.
Customize or Generalize?
If you’re working with a training provider or creating your own course, you’ve probably asked yourself: “Is it worth the time and expense to customize our role-plays?” We have learned many lessons from customizing sim games for our global clients.
Customizing requires working with a senior associate on your team to craft a scenario that reflects your commercial reality. You’ll ideally base the role play on your products and services, and choose a market that’s familiar.
Here are some advantages and considerations:
- Participants’ energy and attention levels will be measurably higher when playing customized sims. It’ll be clear to you from their feedback that they loved their customized sims the most.
- More importantly, you’ll notice higher skills conversion, toolset mastery, and confidence level. And the confidence factor is critically important. Skills won’t stick, and toolsets won’t be used without a high level of confidence.
- You can re-use customized simulations to train new members of your team.
- In recruitment, you can use your sim games to test applicants for a good job fit, and see if they have what it takes.
Computers have forever changed the way we humans play the game of chess. Like our negotiation sim, after a game is over, chess players scrutinize their moves using sophisticated algorithms to uncover mistakes and discover optimal moves.
In chess, players also use computers to prepare for tournaments and find breakthrough ideas. We believe this is the sim game’s future role in business negotiations. What will this mean for society? We will consistently achieve optimal win-win deals, unlocking a windfall of value that will be measured in bottom-line results.
How do we know? Before training their teams, clients who found themselves in highly competitive markets have confessed to us that they felt challenged to hold the line on margins. Honeywell Aerospace is such a client. Honeywell increased revenue by over 10% and margin by over 8% year-over-year for two years. Their internal global survey named our customized sales negotiation training as the main reason for their higher win rates and higher margins. Here’s a short video from Honeywell.
Please reach out if you’d like to see our negotiation simulation game and discover how it could enable your teams to drive improvements in your top and bottom-line results.