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Walking into the office yesterday morning I knew it was not going to be your average day. I felt like a kid in school when the teacher pulls out the TV as an Easter treat. I was excited and a little nervous of what was to come.

As a member of the Future Focus development programme, I get exposure to a wide variety of different sessions and resources that I would not ordinarily come across in my day to day role. Yesterday, myself and my peers in the programme, took part in Fresh Biz’, a board game with the strapline ‘playing a better game of leadership’. I hear you, a board game? What could possibility be learnt from a board game? My thoughts exactly. I was a little sceptical but having been on the programme for six months and knowing the skills and expertise of those behind the session, I had every faith that this would get us all thinking differently.

The group entered the Ingenuity room, a purpose built space designed for open thinking and group discussion. It was clear that my apprehension and excitement was also felt by others in the group as for once it seemed a very quiet space.

As we sat down and were split into smaller groups, Bluehat Develops, who delivered and facilitated the session, asked what we wanted from the experience. From the outset, you could see that people were looking at the session quite differently. What was very evident were the different levels of competitiveness within the room. This certainly was going to be an interesting afternoon.

After a short briefing on the rules of the game, a loose objective and armed with $5 million and a series of action cards we were off.

As the game went on it became a really immersive experience. I completely forgot we were in the middle of the office, in a space which is on looked by the rest of our colleagues. I was in this mad bubble of stock markets, buying property, paying expenses and collecting profits.

At the halfway point we weren’t anywhere near the finish. It was clear that our strategy of working in isolation was not working. It was time to re-assess. Suddenly, it clicked, by collaborating and sharing resources we could help each other out. An action card I had been saving for an emergency of my own suddenly become an invaluable resource for Millie.  It felt amazing, getting $1 million for myself (if only it were real!) and even more so being able to support Millie in her quest through the game. This was perhaps the turning point in our game, what was to follow was a very different way of playing.

And so it began, we shared our individual action cards putting them face up on the table in everyone’s view. It was quite amazing how this impacted our energy and creativity. We came up with so many ‘hacks’ together that saw us all collectively sailing through to the ‘Winners Island’. We made it within five minutes of the final time – success!

So, to my earlier sceptical self; it’s apparent there’s a lot to learn from a simple board game:

  • Working collaboratively and openly– it created a dramatic increase in our effectiveness and the number of ideas we were able to generate.
  • Multi-dimensional approach – there were lots of ways in which to progress through the game, it’s clear that if you played again you would not have the same journey. It appeared that a combination of these approaches would be the winning formulas and that flexibility and awareness were crucial to making the right decisions at the right times.
  • You don’t need to wait your turn – In this game you needn’t wait for your dice roll like you would in other board games. You could make a difference and play at any point in the journey. This was a strong take home message for me, take the plunge and make the move – what’s stopping you?
  • Finally, and perhaps most significantly, it’s so important to have fun along the way, whether it be a personal or work journey. For me, what is instrumental to ensuring this happens is the people around me and having a shared end goal.

I can’t quite believe how much a ‘simple’ board game has got me thinking! Thank you Bluehat Develops.

It’s really showed me the value of the Future Focus programme and the importance of working collaboratively and learning from others to develop and enhance our individual and collective skills. This is something that I know I have the ability to take back to my team and external networks to make a positive impact.

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