DDI develops a video game for leadership development


The game not only allows business leaders to see the immediate impact of the use of Key Principles on their team’s performance and level of engagement, but also improves  their situational judgment as to which key principle to use and when, in challenging situations.

Development Dimensions International (DDI) has launched an animated game that claims to solve problems in leadership development in an organisation. If this game turns out to be effective and useful, it will indeed be a great creative and innovative solution for the learning and development of business leaders.

The animated video game engages learners and drives behaviour change in a fun and interactive way.

Named Zapp! Zone: Jane’s Dilemma, the game provides leaders with the opportunity to practise and refine their use of critical interpersonal skills, called Key Principles, in a video-game format.

These skills—esteem, empathy, involvement, sharing and support—are proven to be the core behaviours that make leaders effective and successful.

It allows business leaders to see the immediate impact of the use of Key Principles on their team’s performance and level of engagement. It also helps improve their situational judgment as to which Key Principle to use and when faced with challenging workplace situations.

It facilitates the practise of critical interpersonal and leadership skills and allows the players to experience the consequences of their decisions in a safe learning environment. This strengthens and sustains essential skills that drive behaviour change and business impact.

Prior to playing the game, learners need to be familiar with DDI’s Key Principles by completing a course from the Interaction Management® system.

The game features five levels, and learners must pass each level before advancing to the next. A learner can replay levels to achieve a higher score.

A Zapp! Zone meter continuously monitors progress and identifies opportunities for improvement.

Working with Pittsburgh-based Simcoach Games, a spinout of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Centre and leader in adult learning and behaviour-change game design, Zapp! Zone incorporates the latest gaming techniques and critical design elements including—achievable goals, learner participation, practice and application, consequences and actionable feedback.

“Today’s overwhelmed learner must be pulled into engaging learning reinforcement options that enable their new knowledge to stick,” said Barry Stern, DDI senior vice president, accelerated development solutions.

“This game does just that by providing a unique, fun way to draw the leader learner in, and at the same time reinforce knowledge of the skills central to a leader’s success. We are excited to add this to our growing collection of knowledge acquisition and reinforcement practices,” Stern says.

Playing the game, the learner assumes the role of ‘Jane’, the leader of a team comprising different personality types. As the game progresses, Jane interacts with her direct reports through player- selected responses indicating the most appropriate Key Principle. Situational judgment is sharpened by allowing the player to gauge the immediate impact of the Key Principle used. A Zapp!Zone meter continuously monitors player progress along the five levels of the game. The meter also identifies opportunities for improvement along the way and at the end of the game. The game, or sections, can be replayed to determine the impact of different choices.

Ken Smith, president, Simcoach Games, had learned DDI’s Key Principles 20 years ago at a previous company. “I don’t recall another game we have built that has had such a direct impact on our own company culture,” he said.

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