Fun and Games the Finnish Way Could Bring Innovation to the Board

By Helen Beckett, Community Manager

The Finnish Ambassador’s residence seemed an appropriate place to learn the latest about how gamification is helping businesses be more innovative. The Scandinavians with their small populations and vast territory are good at technologies that connect people. Hence they’ve been leaders in mobile communications – remember Nokia – and also have a pole position in e-learning.

‘Serious games’ are a next phase of e-learning; applying the ethos and technology of computer games to business introduces a new, helpful dynamic into learning and problem-solving. Sara de Freitas, director of research at the Serious Games Institute lists fast feedback, playfulness and role playing as factors instrumental in unleashing innovation and behavioural change.

And with peer learning being lauded as more important than tutor-based learning, it’s no surprise that boardrooms are looking towards games to help them find that competitive edge or breakthrough idea. Nor that one of the newcomers on the market was launched at the Finnish Ambassador’s residence, care of Altogame.

“We are at a transformative moment “says Eija Mäkirintala, CEO and co-founder of Altogame. A former musician, Mäkirintala became interested in coaching musicians to get the best out of their performance while under pressure. “It’s a competitive space, and musicians are dedicated and talented so the difference between success and mediocrity are small.”

Excited that these marginal differences in performance could be applied to the business world, she went on to develop a gamification method and product that has strong parallels with the Agile technique.  You start with a prototype – or vision – in response to a key question refine it continually in iterative and collaborative ways to reach the desired destination.

A Finnish software company in the health sector is an early user of Altogame and has declared itself happy with the result. “We had more ideas in 45 minutes of gaming than in a year of boardroom discussions”, was a rather frank testimonial. Apparently the problem overcome was a talkative MD and a deferential board, which limited the ideas being thrown out for discussion.

Mäkirintala says the beauty of playing the game is that it lends anonymity to players. A simple game levels the ideas playing field and offers the prospect of transformation in a board, an organisation and even nations.

Have you ever applied games to serious problem solving? Be good to hear your ideas.


Also by Helen Beckett

Helen BeckettHelen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange.  She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.