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KPI's - keeping score

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Whilst most companies use measures, key performance indicators and dashboards, they may work against the overall company goals.

KPI's work in a similar way to a score track or health points etc in a game or simulation, offering visualisation of, how well a player is performing in the context of the game.

In most cases, a game or simulation needs a defined winning condition. If this is unclear to the participants, they cannot play to their best abilities and may become completely disengaged. Knowing the winning conditions will generally inform and influence any decisions taken during the game. This is dependent on two other points:

relevance - understanding how to achieve the winning condition

ability - being able to to achieve those conditions.

This second point, ability, can also be affected by personal perception, believing one is able to achieve something irrespective of whether that belief is well founded.

So, it is in the real world. A lack of measures leaves the individual unsure of their progress or whether they are doing the right thing. Measures that don't relate to your work-life or ones you feel ill-equipped to affect do not inspire and may demotivate. Visible measures that are achievable and understood inform and influence decisions. Where the importance of measures is increased through bonuses or other reward mechanism, they truly become the scoreboard of your working life and may disproportionately influence decisions towards an unanticipated and detrimental direction.

One difference between the simulated world and the real world is that in the real world the measures are not necessarily directly linked to a goal and the goal may not be clearly defined and articulated.

Exploring measures in game-based learning

The impact of measure/KPI's can be usefully and practically explored in game-based learning by having different players or teams with different success criteria or winning conditions. The session facilitator can also investigate the how the impact of these criteria differs when kept hidden or shared with the other players/teams.

Simulations can provide a very powerful tool in understanding the interplay of these elements and in transferring this insight back to the real world.

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