Why Can’t We Play More At Work? With Alexandra Suchman

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Alexandra Suchman. Alex is the cofounder and CEO of Barometer, a company that drives real behavior and culture change through games and play.

After a decade of experience working in operations and organizational development, Alex realized that building stronger emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are key to organizational success. She noticed a gap in the industry for solutions that bridge the knowledge-to-action gap, and discovered game-based experiential learning for teams as an effective tool.

In this ‘game of a conversation’ Alex and I discuss

00:00 › Start

02:01 › Game On—How Alex stumbled into the world of games as a means for personal and professional development, why this is VERY different from gamification, and how she (and her teammates) get CEOs, CLOs and Directors to stop and listen to them

8:31 › Avatars—What the process looks like for bringing games into professional development, from the first icebreakers or proof-of-concept to massive complexity that really focus on achieving business or behavior change objectives

16:08 › Serious Fun—Alex describes how we can dispel the idea of games as just “silly fun,” to understand how there are opportunities everywhere for genuine reflection and learning, and how we play games differently, with different people

22:31 › Playtime—Alex tells us how she and her team help people to move past the potential cringe moments when playing games at work so that they really become something useful and powerful, and how this leads to tangible breakthroughs

28:13 › Game Over, Restart—Alex walks us through what it’s like when a game doesn’t work as planned and you have to adapt on the fly; and why that’s often a magical moment

33:11 › Select, Start—Alex provides her advice on getting started with games for development in your organization or school.


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This is the eLearn podcast. If you’re passionate about the future of learning, you’re in the right place. The expert guests on this show provide insights into the latest strategies, practices,

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a company leveraging open -source software to deliver effective, customized and engaging learning experiences for schools, universities, companies and government. governments around the world since 2005.

Learn more at OpenLMS .net. Hi there, my name’s Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Alexandra Suchman. Alex is the co -founder and CEO of Barometer XP,

a company that drives real behavior and culture change through games and play. So after a decade of experiencing working in operations and organizational development,

Alexandra Suchman is the co -founder and CEO of Barometer XP. realized that building stronger emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are key to organizational success. And she noticed a gap in the industry for solutions that bridged the knowledge to action gap and discovered game -based experiential learning for teams as a very effective tool.

Now, in this game of a conversation, Alex and I discuss how she stumbled into this world of games as a means for personal development. and professional development, why this is very different than what you and I usually talk about as gamification,

and how she and her teammates get CLOs and CEOs and directors and everyone of importance decision makers to stop and take them seriously and listen to them. She then talks to us about what the process looks like for bringing games into professional development from the first icebreakers or the…

the proof of concept to massive complexity that really focus on achieving business or behavior change objectives in any organization or school. Alex then describes how we can dispel the idea of games are just silly fun to understand how there are opportunities everywhere for genuine reflection and learning and how we play games differently with different people.

Alex then tells us how she and her team help people to move past that potential cringe moments when you’re playing games at work with your colleagues so that they really become something useful and powerful and how this leads to tangible breakthroughs.

Then Alex walks us through what it’s like when the game doesn’t work as it’s planned and you have to adapt on the fly. And then obviously like why that’s often a magical moment and real breakthroughs happen there too.

Alex then you know, we round out our conversation by her providing her advice on getting started with games and play for development in your organization or school and what the future holds. And remember,

we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners, in real time. So if you like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn, on Facebook, or on YouTube, just come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe.

Now, I give you Alex Sukhban. We are here to talk to you. about, you know, why we need to play more games at work, but before we do that, before we do that, where the heck are you?

We’re like, where are you in the world? I am in Washington, DC, right in the middle of the city, about a mile from the National Mall and the White House and all that good stuff.

So right where everything crazy happens. That is so cool. Yeah, I’m going to be there this weekend. weekend. I’m teaching a class a day you this weekend. Fantastic. No kidding. There you go. Super cool. Okay,

cool. Washington, DC, late September. That means it’s muggy. That means fall, and maybe wants to come in like a month or so. That’s fantastic.

Tell us about who you are and what you do. So obviously we’re teasing this out. It’s like you’re somebody who plays games and you use Gling games. learning, but how do you deliver that? Are you in the company? Or what’s your professional shtick?

Yeah, I have my own company. I first went out on my own about seven years ago as a consultant. Then through a series of different events,

we could talk about the idea for this kind of game -assisted learning. We call it game -based experiential learning. The idea came about and we tested it and we realized,

“Hey, this is really good. This is really enhancing a lot of the other learning that’s on the market, especially in the professional development and organization development spaces.” And so now I have a co -founder of a startup that’s trying to get this out into the world.

And what does that mean? So your co -founders started trying to get it out in the world like gamification. like gamification and game playing and simulations and those kinds of things are not new. Like what’s the, is there,

is this truly like a different look or is this like, look, let’s put games at the center or what’s the, what’s the pitch? Yeah, great question. So it’s using games in spaces that games haven’t particularly been in.

There’s a lot of games in the professional development spaces and you mentioned the word gamification and that’s a little bit different from what we. we do. Gamification is using game elements to make something that is inherently not a game more engaging or to incentivize different behaviors.

We are literally playing games, but for learning. And so these are games that you need multiple people to play and they play them synchronously. It can be in -person or it can be virtual. But the idea is every game at its heart,

there’s some sort of problem you’re trying to solve. There’s some objective. And when you’re playing games with other people, you’re solving problems with other people. And you have to negotiate different perspectives and have a certain degree of grit and persistence.

And you have to have people who have different skill sets coming in at different times, all which very closely mirror the dynamics that happen in the workplace. So you’re almost using the game like a controlled experiment.

environment to work through some of the interpersonal challenges that come up in the workplace, isolating how people work together, how people think and act and feel in real time,

and bringing that to the surface and making that the explicit content. Yeah, sure. Like the critical, the other critical outcomes that you’re getting to. So I mean,

this is not a joke question. That’s what I do. you like, every time you go to a dinner party, like everybody’s like, oh, you’re the game lady’s here. You know, like, is this become like who you are in your professional life or whatever?

Like, and, you know, was this, you know, you love playing games and you’re like, or was just like, wow, hey, I stumbled, you know, you and whoever your co -founders are, like you kind of stumbled on something and you’re like, let’s run with that. – I think it’s a combination.

I think, I know the people in my life that will get excited if I’m like, hey, let’s play a game. game. And I know that people will stop inviting me to things. So I have to use that information wisely. I will say that when I am playing a game with somebody,

friend, family member, totally just for fun, once you lift that switch of seeing games as a way to understand how people feel and think and act and what does this say about them,

you can’t unsee it. So I’ll be playing a game with my husband and I’m like, oh, he’s going into his, you know, know, competitive, outfoxing me mode. And, and I can tell that he’s trying to,

you know, stump me on something or if I’m playing with my seven year old niece, I can tell when she’s grappling with really wanting to understand a more complicated set of rules.

And it’s just a really fascinating way to see what’s going on with other people. So as long as people are willing to have that meta conversation with me, we’re going to have have a great time playing.

But if people are like, let’s just do something superficial and not go deep, I’m probably the wrong person for them. Well, okay. So then take me there because you said you’ve been doing this for seven years or you went out of your own.

And this is where you’re going. I can already see the CEOs, the chief learning officers, the heads of training departments in my life going like either the other is a nice little thing.

Maybe we’ll do that. If we have time or if we have some leftover slush budget at the end of the year, we’ll do that.” Or you can’t be serious. This can’t be a serious pitch.

Walk me through those two objections to your common proposal or however you start to introduce yourself to an organization. Yeah.

So, I think … in the last five years, I think it was trending up even before the pandemic and then that just blew everything up. There was more of a focus on culture and not being this series of statements that this is how we want to treat each other and this is how we are.

But there actually has to be some intentionality there. People actually have to be following through on what those principles are really. They’re pretty worthless. And that means investing in in how do people feel like they’re treated,

do they feel like they have agency is work distributed, you know, in a fair way, all sorts of people challenges.

So there is slightly, there’s more attention to that now. And there’s been, you know, huge investment in all the different personality and behavioral assessment tools. tools a lot in the DEI space,

trying to get people to interact in different ways. And there’s really excellent content out there, but most of it is targeting… It’s like, let me introduce you to this new framework or let me give you a new vocabulary to use.

So here’s history or theory, which is all really valuable, but it doesn’t lead to behavior change. So I think companies are spending a lot of money. They’ve identified the problem.

and identified that it takes some sort of intervention to solve it. But to get people to change their behavior on like a conversation to conversation,

these micro levels, if you’re asking me a question and you’ve asked it to me 10 times and my assumption is you just don’t listen to what I say and you don’t value my time, that’s a behavior change for me to be like,

oh no, you just need this information in a very different way than I’m giving it to you. You need more detail than what I’m offering for you to do your job. So seeing those assumptions and those reflections,

reactions that we have in real time are hard behavior change. And so you can’t just present it as let’s build knowledge, let’s hear the framework, you have to give people a chance to practice that in real time, and to do it with the people that they’re going to be working with.

So they’re building that trust and building that familiarity and those new muscle memory pathways together in real time. So I would say you’re already spending money on this problem,

but you’re not doing it in a way that best aligns with how people learn this information or how these skills really get operationalized. Hi there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now,

but if you’re enjoying this show, if you are challenged, if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re going to be able to get. something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor. Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now.

It doesn’t matter which one, just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now, back to the show. So let’s say we’ve moved past the objection phase,

right? And like, okay, let’s do you usually come in with an easy starter game? Do you come in? I guess even more important question is, how big are the teams that you’re working with of these games?

Is it five people? Is it a hundred people? How big and complex can this be? – Yeah, it can be pretty big and complex. You would just want to have multiple facilitators because for any experiential learning,

there has to be, each individual has to be able to engage a certain amount. And so if you have a hundred people and so if you have a hundred people and so if you have a hundred people and so if you have a hundred people and want to be able to engage a certain amount, room and and everybody’s trying to do something together Only a few people will actually get to actively participate in the game But even more so

in the reflective piece, but you can split a group of a hundred people up into little groups of eight or ten people Where they can have the experience the game is almost someone using algae wants of a trojan horse Mmm,

what was the Trojan horse for the learning you create an experience and then you have people people, it’s building that self -awareness and situational awareness about that experience and then extrapolating,

extrapolating what’s useful. So if we’re working with a team, it’s usually between four and 20 people, if it’s an in -depth longer -term engagement, but if it’s part of a big retreat or is that a conference or we’ve done things,

we’re at networking events, events just to spark different types of conversations You can do it with larger groups. Wow. I’m dead like this is this is really kind of fascinating what? And so kind of going back to that initial question I had is is you do you have to kind of Proof of concept with the companies you work with where it’s like Hey,

let’s you know, let’s let’s play a game right now. Like let’s you know, let’s you know know, you have your, do you have your like a little go -to things or, and sort of secondarily, the sub question to that is, how do you then say this is the problem you want to solve?

You know, do you open up your, your, your menu and say, look, hey, here’s five games that would probably work for this, or are you designing a new interaction every time? Um, so a big part of what we have developed is how do you match the right game for the right situation and outcome?

And that’s a big reason why, I think one of the situations you mentioned at first is like, why would we play games at work? I think people have done a lot of, whether it’s quote unquote like fun,

team building, social activities that are pretty awkward and fall flat. And there’s, we know why that happens. And we want to set it up. and believe we’ve come up with the framework.

Is there a one, is there a one sentence answer there? Like why is it, why does it, why do they fall flat? Yeah, because it was an arbitrarily chosen activity and it’s not really presented with any type of context.

So even, even a happy hour, let’s say all of a sudden I’m, I have a company of 20 people and I’m like, hey, everybody, let’s come do a happy hour tomorrow. tomorrow. People are going to say,

did somebody do something wrong? And they’re just trying to win our favor over. Are performance reviews coming up? Are we supposed to schmooze? If I go to a happy hour, can I be silly and really be myself?

Or do I have to be buttoned up? And who’s going to be there? People don’t really know why are you doing this thing, what’s expected of them, how is success going to be measured? And so no wonder it’s– going to be awkward,

and they’re not going to be fully engaged because they don’t know what’s expected. So being really clear, is this the purely social event, in which case make that clear, make it optional,

you know, maybe have some activity or something there so that people can see that it’s purely social. If there is a learning component, or if there is, people are going to be evaluating some way,

you have to tell them, or they’re not going to be able to see what’s going on, or they’re to show up the way that you want. So one of the frameworks that we have is, so I guess that’s the one sentence thing is expectations and context are really,

really important. And that’s sort of where we’ve created a way of defining the expectations and making sure you’re matching it with the appropriate context.

And so how do you discover that with, let’s just say, I’m a new client or you’ve just acquired a new client. What’s your process? Is there a fairly complex discovery and design phase before you,

and do you need months to set one of these up? Or is it kind of like, hey, we could do this next week. We need to know like A, B, and C. Mostly the latter. If somebody somebody was like,

Hey, we had a client last year that wanted, it was a county health department and they wanted to do a leadership and culture development for all of the leaders. And it was multi -session.

So that took a couple months to develop because it was not just the game is what we were also designing basically a leadership development program and putting all the content together. But I’ve also had somebody say, Hey, we need someone to facilitate a whole day retreat.

We have, some content areas, but we want activities here and there.” After a half -hour conversation, I could show up and do that in a few days. Because I’d asked the questions of,

“What are you hoping to accomplish with the game?” So you’re trying to just help people think creatively and feel a little bit more informal at the beginning of what’s going to be a long day. Great. We’ll play a more fun game that gets into more storytelling.

We’re not really going to to introduce a competitive element or anything where there’s heavy strategic thinking. We’re going to keep it very light and connecting. If it’s later in the day and they’re going to be getting into value setting and want people to feel like they can share different perspectives and challenge each other,

we might play a game where there’s some element of debate or negotiation in it. So they can practice doing that and get comfortable doing that with the context of the game. And then those skills will immediately translate into the activity they’re going to do next.

So it’s about fitting the game in the right space where it goes in the event. I got to admit that the thing that’s really surprising to me right now is just like the different layers of games.

Like, you know, I think we’re maybe and I’m putting myself in this this bucket as well. I’m just guilty of when I hear the word game, I equate it with fun and silly fun, right?

Like silly funness, right? Most of it probably because I only play games with my kids. I don’t know. That’s not that. But that’s a lie because I played a tennis game this morning and that again is, is, is diversion, but a very different type of diversion that,

you know, I’m connecting with the other person. It’s social, but there’s, there’s some intensity there. You know what I mean? Like where I’m competing, um, I don’t know what question to ask around that.

Take me around the complexities of that because if I go across a spectrum of silly game to highly competitive strategic sort of like a risk game or something like that,

what are the different things I’m going to get out of each of those in terms of team building or in terms of getting to know someone else or in terms of whatever?

like, help me there. – Yeah, well, let’s take into those two examples that you just gave. It’s been put, Twists that’s around in New York with it. So when you play a game with your kids, like, give me an example of a game you play again and what it’s like.

– You know, Settlers of Catan, that’s a favorite in our house, if you’re familiar with that one. – Okay. And how old are your kids, if you don’t mind me asking? – Sure, no, everybody knows here on the podcast,

by the way, I’m Settler. 12 and 9 right now. OK, so. They’re all of the age where they. They could they can think more complex,

right? They can like it’s a game in a stage where they can participate, right? Like there is especially like the 15 and 12 year old and my wife, who’s super competitive, you know, they there’s their real strategy that happens.

There’s real like, you know, there’s ups and downs, emotions, right? Yeah. game. We find that I’m pre -answering your question here, I think, but it’s like, as over the arc of the game,

there’s moments of, “Oh, no, you’ve got to come back to the table. I’m sorry. I just took all your stuff.” And there’s also, “Ah, you took my cards, or you blocked me out here,” or whatever. There’s lots of those moments,

so we find it really, it’s complex, right? Yeah. Yeah. And so, like, every one of those inflection points, it probably starts off and everybody’s, “Hey, this is really fun. We’re spending time together.” And then somebody does something that puts someone else at a disadvantage,

then the competitive side kicks in a little bit. And maybe the person who’s winning is going to feel really pumped. The person who’s losing is like, “Oh, I could be doing. I should go check my phone or I’m going to snap and I’m a little bit less engaged.” And then somebody else might say,

“You’re being too competitive, you’re making it less fun for all of us. So those are all really interesting threads to pull of what’s going on and why is this happening? It’s not to say that any one of you is right or good or bad.

It’s just what is it about now being no longer winning or being a little bit behind in the game that’s so upsetting to certain people?

And is it the fact that they’re no longer winning? winning or is it the fact that the person who did beat them is is gloating or that that’s you know if it’s like your youngest kid who really just wants to beat you and thinks they have it and then can’t get it and there’s that frustration there’s so much more going on in our brains in in those moments than just what’s happening on the surface of the game and so

digging in into that and what’s behind each person’s experience what would make it the game more fun or less fun? Are they in it more to have fun or more to win?

It says a lot about what our own individual behavior patterns are. And by recognizing those patterns and seeing how they show up in the game, you could think, does this same sort of emotion get activated at work?

And what would help me in that work environment? I mean, when you’re playing the game with your family, I’ve been a board flipper in my life. I will say it was not– the best. But the point of playing games is my brother wasn’t,

we have to solve this game, because, you know, a client, you know, life depends on it or whatever. It was, okay, well, you’re still my brother, I’ll be mad at you for half an hour,

then we’ll start another game. So the outcome is different. But when it’s people that you have to produce something with, you have to work together. together, you have to have these shared goals,

you can use the game as a way to say, given these different behavioral patterns that we all have, how can we make it more likely that we’re all functioning on a higher, more positive level, because we don’t have the choice to walk away and never play this game.

And so I’m thinking a game has fluidity, right? Especially depending on the context where you’re at, usually there’s a a cordon off section of time and it’s like,

okay, look, Alex, go, it’s your time to facilitate this. Are you pausing the game at specific points and calling people out on behaviors or are you in the background as a psychoanalyst sort of recording things and you’re debriefing afterwards,

all of the above, like what? Yeah, so that’s where the the level of expectation expectations comes in. We have, imagine in iceberg, picture the iceberg,

there’s a million analogies at the tip of the iceberg. But the way that we use the iceberg is, what’s above the surface, if you imagine, here’s the water line, here’s the part sticking out on top where there’s polar bears or whatever. Just on the surface level,

games are a way to spend time with other people outside of your normal interactions with them at work. And that’s really valuable, you get to know them, it brings out stories, it’s going to create… shared memories, so it’s gonna be some shared frame of reference.

That’s very valuable, that’s the social element. We call that team bonding. But there’s very little reflection. It might be, hey, was that fun? What’d you like about this game? What didn’t you like about this game?

If you go one level deeper, so the part of the iceberg that’s like just below the surface, you can take the exact same games, but pair it with some reflection. You know, what did that game bring up for you?

You know, what did you like about this game? You know, what did you like about this game? do you think made certain people find that game more fun than others or be able to be more successful in those games? What did you notice about how other people approach the game versus how you approached it?

And you’re going to learn really important things about those behavioral patterns. And so in that case, we might stop midway. We call that team building. And in team building, we either will play a few different games and reflect in between.

or we’ll play a game where you can do several rounds and we’ll iterate between rounds and just dig into what was the experience during that round. The deepest level is where you’re really trying to get it.

How does this group of people work together? What– usually, there’s some sort of culture change or environment change that you’re working through. And so what does this group of people need?

And in that case, you would want to do a lot of midpoints. check -ins to get what would help you all do better here is it maybe you put more of a process in place or maybe you have some clear goals or clear roles for different people or maybe you’re trying a different way to communicate because what’s working for isn’t working and that’s where we call that team development and that’s where you would want to have

these pauses and check -ins and give people a chance to apply what what they’re seeing and to do different and evolve together. So it depends on which of those three levels,

the team bonding, team building, or team development you’re trying to get to. – So take me to the participant side. I see the value. I think most people listening right now can see the value from sort of the corporate business goal side.

If I flip the script on this and give people a chance say, you know, I think you mentioned it a few minutes ago where it’s just like, hey, my boss is telling me to come to a game session.

Okay, this could be not fun. Or how are you introducing the activity? Is this kind of like, is there any time you sneak it in here or is it like there’s a real big run up so that you get big buy -in from everybody?

Let me pause there. Like, how do you get people to show up and like become a part of this game or these games? – Yeah, so that’s the other piece of the expectation and matching the right game.

Even if we’re not, let’s take it. Let’s say I was like, okay, we’re gonna do a communications training next week. Well, is that because somebody said something really stupid at a meeting last week? week and this is a corrective action?

Is this something that’s maybe been on the books for a long time but just wasn’t communicated? People don’t know and they’re gonna jump to conclusions. So in picking a game and in how we introduce it,

we have a framework that we’ve created. It’s nine different dimensions of team culture of organizational health. Things like identity and belonging, clarity and complexity, tools,

use of tools. bunch of things like that. And so we created an assessment out of that. It’s very quick, but it’s just getting at how do people experience their culture? What do they experience as the strengths and what do they experience as the pain points?

And we get that data, we can say, okay, across the team, this is how aligned people are, this is what people see. So then when we go to say, okay, we’re going to do this game, or more likely this is why we’re doing this workshop,

or this is why the retreat is framed in this way, it’s because we heard what you said. We heard you say that you have a strong sense of team identity, you feel like you’re valued, but in terms of process,

it’s very reactive and this is something that’s really stressful. So we’re going to do a couple exercises that address how do we get better ideas for process? How do we start using our tools? So you can frame it in a way that’s in response to what their needs are,

what their priorities are. So it’s not arbitrarily, they know it’s not an arbitrarily selected activity. And you’re telling them that it’s outcomes that matter,

whether it’s let’s play a game that’s gonna celebrate something that you’re really already good at and we’re gonna build confidence and just help you leverage these strengths even more, or there’s some sort of course correction or skill building that’s needed.

– Mm, yeah, so what’s a… I’d love to hear like your favorite aha moment, you know? Or as you’ve been doing this for quite a while now,

is there a moment like you can almost predict, you can smell it, you can see it coming where it’s like, here it comes, here it comes. And like there’s that moment where everybody kind of like, whoo, steps back and realizes something. Is it a tangible thing?

Do people call it out? Or is it something that you get in feedback, you know, sort of post event? No, it’s tangible and we want, we call it out and then we talk about it,

we talk about it a lot. Celebrate it. You celebrate it. You celebrate it. Yeah. Well, because it’s proper, I can give a couple of different examples. One was a group,

this is last summer and they were, it was their first time all in person after being remote and there was a new director for this team and they were doing that. whole day retreat and I just came in to do a game at the beginning of it and The the new director she was tough.

She people were kind of scared of her She was one of those people that she’s like, hey I’m gonna give you instructions and you have to do it exactly the way I want you to do it And she gets really mad if it’s not the way that she wanted and people were definitely kind of scared of her And so we did this one game Where you have somebody is looking at a photo and they’re just describing the photo and other people

have to draw it based on what that person’s instructions were. You know, it’s a pretty simple photo. To me, if I’m looking at it, it’s super clear. Whatever I say is gonna describe exactly what it is.

How could other people not understand exactly what I’m seeing? But that’s not what happens. Your words are so limited, you only have so much time. People are gonna interpret things in different ways. So we did a few rounds of that.

And at the end, she said, “It is so unfair.” unfair of me to expect that you can all read my mind, that I just say things one way in a way that makes sense to me and expect that of you. And I’m gonna make more time for you to ask me clarifying questions.

It sounds so simple, but you could feel the air in the room change. You could just feel that and it never occurred to her. We go through our brains just inside of our brains.

And so we don’t know how other people are perceiving the same situation very differently. You’re hearing in… and interpreting it really differently. So that those moments are so one satisfying as a facilitator,

but also to be in and see like, this is what’s going to lead to real change. Me just going up to her and saying, you need to give feedback differently. That’s not that’s not going to motivate her to change.

But seeing in the moment what the consequences are and how it directly leads to her not getting. the outcomes that she wants and recognizing that she’s not being as effective as she wants to be.

She sees herself as a really competent person and this is something she wasn’t doing very confidently. That’s always wonderful when you have a situation like that where somebody who, you know, she’s a director for a reason. She’s competent.

She’s achieved. She’s… But then… Hey, wait. Here’s a couple of limbs, you know, along the way that would make you even better or the team… Yeah. That’s got to be so, so satisfying. – Yeah,

and one time it is on the like people side of things. Like, yeah, you’re a director because you know all about the subject matter area, you understand the office politics, you’ve been doing this for years, but do you know how to get great performance out of other people?

That’s such a different skill set. That’s a whole other topic that we don’t have to go down today. (laughing) – I don’t know, we got time. Anyway, no, I agree that it’s bringing the best on teams as well.

So then take me down the alternate path, the alternate universe. You’ve come into this, you know, you’ve done the expectations, you’ve talked about outcomes you wanna achieve and the game’s falling flat.

Or, you know, like it’s just, you know, what’s, you know, have you ever had to like pivot and come up with a new game on the spot? Or like, what’s your worst case scenario where you’re like as a facility,

you’re like, you know, stuff’s hit the fan and that’s it. got to I’ve got to do something or and why like what what you know can you walk me through like why wouldn’t a game work or like or why would you find yourself in that place?

Yeah, so the beauty of it is because it’s the the insights come in the reflective piece, if a game doesn’t work you can dig into why and I mean that’s definitely happened where you know you go in you think this team is going to do great and they’re going to succeed in this game and we’re going to be having this conversation about let’s celebrate all the things we did.

Well, that doesn’t happen and why is it? And usually they’ll say, I felt really stressed because there was a timer component of the game and anytime there’s that tight of a deadline,

I just get so distracted that I can’t fully engage. And somebody else will say, I just assumed, I didn’t really know what was going on and I assumed other people would take over. So I just took the backseat roll,

but then nobody took over. And somebody else might say, I hate games and this was stupid and this doesn’t relate to anything I’m doing. So I’m just not gonna participate. And all three of those are,

I mean, they’re valid. – But they’re not like pro -social. They’re not gonna, they’re not helpful in any environment. And you can gently point out, does anything like this ever happen at work where you don’t have the choice of opting out or there’s gonna be a real conflict.

for for not engaging, what would have made you know how could you have asked for help in a way that would have made you feel more supported or you know if why wasn’t this situation engaging to you or what wasn’t resonating and is there something,

is there an assumption that you had that maybe wasn’t correct so digging into why something was unsuccessful is maybe even more valuable to digging into why it was successful, because I think there’s this innate tendency to want to do things better,

to want to figure out how to fix a problem. One of my favorite things to do is to call out the person that just sits there and is like, this is dumb, I’m not, I don’t have time. – Yeah, look, so talk to me about that.

Like you are sitting in DC, I mean, at least when I lived there, you know, I’m Dean years ago, but also I’m just kind of thinking through the thread of the pandemic and other things like being an introvert has been lifted up and we’ve got books about,

“Hey, why it’s cool to be an introvert now?” Like I can see people coming to us something like this and be like, “Hey, look, I’m not a social person. I’m not an extrovert.” So what’s the experience there?

Do you have a way to bring them into the fold? Yeah. – Yeah, what we like to, we usually like to start out, if we’re gonna be doing a game where differences are gonna become really apparent, we like to start with an exercise that’s gonna highlight some of those differences in a different way.

So there’s one activity that we have that we’re, people say, we don’t say introvert or extrovert, but one of the questions you might say is, when you’re presented with new information that that’s important to you,

do you need some time to think it over internally and process it before you do it? can engage, or do you need to talk about it right away, whether it’s to yourself or with other people? And then,

you know, people sort of sort themselves out to where they think they fall on that continuum. Sometimes you’ll dig into what situational elements affect that, but then you could say, great,

what assumptions do you think people who fall somewhere else make about you and what assumptions do you make about them? And a lot of the times the people that are more extroverted that are– the you know process out loud and immediately will think that the people who are more introverted or internal processors are not engaged that they’re tuning out and um making other people pick up the slack.

When really they can’t engage in that conversation until they feel like they understand it enough themselves and they need that time and they’re feeling like well you’ve already left me in the dust before I even have a chance to to step foot it.

you know, on the playing field. And so understanding that and thinking, great, so how can you share new information that’s important in a way that’s gonna give everybody some time to process it before the work starts,

before there’s real interaction on it. And so once people recognize, oh yeah, I’m just misinterpreting this behavior, the thing that I’m doing is unintentionally making the experience.

worse for somebody else. People are willing to come to some sort of compromise and understanding and really appreciate that. Nice. Awesome. If I’m somebody listening right now,

I mean, I’m still surprised at how quickly 40 minutes goes by in a conversation like this. It’s pretty fascinating. If I’m somebody who wants to get started with this, what are your advice in terms of of Here’s one or two things the two things that you could do to get started with this or is it always call Alex?

No, I mean we we want other people to be using this And we have a whole catalog of games and then we have you know stuff on our framework on our website and everything But even just as you’re playing games Notice what it’s bringing up for you.

What are you? What kind of games do you think are? fun or not fun? Or who do you like to play with and what is it about that situation? And what are some analogies in other aspects of your life that where those same dynamics come up and where you could use a game to start a conversation?

– Fantastic. Alex, if somebody wants to get ahold of you, if somebody wants to learn more about gaming or hopefully hire you to come play some games with me, with them, what’s the best way that they should reach out to you?

Yeah, so our website is barometerxp .com. So there’s all sorts of information about our services and our games and our frameworks and everything.

My email is just alex @barometerxp .com. Or if you go to LinkedIn and you put Alex Barometer, I’m the only one there. So not too hard to find.

me. – Well, thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. It has been the light to have you on the show, and I wish you a wonderful day. – Thank you, it’s been really fun. – Thank you again for listening to the E -Learn podcast here from OpenLMS.

I just wanted to ask one more time, if you enjoyed this show, if you learned something, if you were inspired, if you were challenged, if you feel like this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor or end me.

now, on your podcast player, hit subscribe. That way you’re never going to miss a future episode. Also, come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well because we have tons of great information about how to create killer online learning outcomes.


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