Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Observing impact

I've been running an experiment looking at how mapping changes gameplay. I've taken 181 executives through a basic mapping course (i.e. you learn how to map, learn basic economic patterns, basic forms of gameplay) but before I do, I give them a scenario.

In the scenario they are members of the board of a company. They have financial information including P&L, competitor reports, market data, operational reports and a range of strategic options that are presented using SWOT diagrams to business model canvas. They usually work as a small team of 2-4 and are asked to prioritise the strategic options or add their own. Invariably they decide to build some form of digital cloud service, invest in efficiency, expand overseas and invest in product development.

I then teach them how to map and ask them to look at the scenario again. It's worth noting they are giving no additional information on the scenario other than the ability to map. There's a noticeable change in choice with a little more confusion over what to do. The confidence of previous choice is questioned.

I then teach them basic economic patterns and forms of gameplay. Again, they are asked to look at the scenario and no new information is provided to it. At this point a radical change seems to happen. Overwhelmingly after mapping and applying basic patterns then they want to invest in marketing to "pump up" the company in the eyes of outsiders, flog it quickly and rebuild a new company. They've gone from viewing the company as having a great future to viewing it as going over the cliff and hence they need to maximise return.  Their perception has fundamentally changed by simply mapping the environment. 

It's a small sample, 181 executives and we shall see how this develops. Details of the results are provided in the figure below.

What's interesting is they now start to question the basis of previous strategic choices. It's a particular delight to watch someone map something they've done and go "crap, we need to fix this". Makes it all worthwhile to see grizzled executives change.