Simulation game for organisation development : development, use and evaluation of the Work Flow Game

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Report / Helsinki University of Technology, Industrial Management and Work and Organizational Psychology, 20
This study concerns the simulation game for organisation development focusing on the development, use and evaluation of the Work Flow Game (WFG). It is a method for participatory improvement of work processes and knowledge work. The WFG is tailor-made and based on the simplified model of the real work process and work activity of the employees. The theoretical framework of the study includes the discipline of simulation gaming, organisation development tradition in behavioural science, the sociotechnical systems approach and the business process re-engineering. The aims of the study were to develop and to use the simulation game for work process improvement, to evaluate the experiences of the participants, to evaluate effects and outcomes of the WFG and to create an evaluation framework of the simulation game. The WFG was constructed in close interplay between academic research and practical organisation development in ten organisations. Longitudinal, intensive case studies in three organisations described the use of the WFQ including its planning, the game day and the debriefing, and evaluated its effects and outcomes. The evaluation focused on the participants' (N=98) experiences in the WFG and ideas for work and organisational improvements collected by questionnaires and interviews before and after the WFG. Video recordings were used for documenting. Performance measurements were collected on the quality and efficiency of the work process. Occupational health checks on personnel were used in one organisation. As part of organisation development, the WFG proved to be useful for analysing the present state of work processes, and for testing new operational modes, particularly when planning and implementing new information system. The WFG integrates work process improvement, use of information technology, and participation and learning by personnel. The WFG promoted the participants' interaction, communication and co-operation across organisational borders. The participants obtained an overview of the work process and its development needs. The WFG promoted participants' idea generation and also creation of organisational innovations, which were not presented before the WFG. The improvement ideas were implemented in the organisations: the work process was redesigned, division of work was clarified and the new information system was implemented smoothly. These activities indicated improvements in the quality and efficiency of the work process and in customer relations, overtime work and workload peaks of employees were decreased. The participants had positive attitudes towards the WFG and perceived it a useful method. In conclusion, a model was created on the effects and outcomes of the simulation game within the context of organisation development. The role of the WFG can be described as that of a catalyst for organisation development.
simulation game, the Work Flow Game, organisation development, work process, knowledge work, evaluation
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