Team building from City Challenge
The Benefits
The Core Competencies
High Performing Teams
Team Summary
The Analysis

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Analysis of City Challenge Business Management Game Continued

Properties & Processes generated by the crafted Cryptic Clues

Each team is presented with a cryptic clue set that contains a fixed number of clues. This number is adjusted according to the total number of participants, the number of teams and number of participants in each team.

The clues are ranked according to level of difficulty and are assigned a corresponding point value upon successful solution. The point scale is defined in terms of Euro. The maximum points or Euro that can be achieved by a given clue set is equal for both teams. For example, a one-day event with two opposing teams with eight members in each team may typically have a clue set consisting of about 75 clues with a maximum of 500 Euro achievable.

Since the gathering of information for individual clues is connected to precise physical locations in a city, determining the optimum plan of access to the information sites requires mapping skills and a critical evaluation of estimated navigation times. Leadership, co-ordination of actions and co-operation of team members is essential in the mapping-navigation process.

The process of deciphering cryptic clues requires interpretation, logic, ingenuity and keen awareness. This learning process is further enhanced when focused towards the next stage when the collected data is analysed and discussed, and solutions are agreed and confirmed by team colleagues.

The information provided by some clues are deliberately interrelated, so that a solution cannot be achieved without all the components of the linked clue data. Such clues demonstrate how linked parts combine to form a whole. The combined effort of data analysis promotes increased interaction and co-operation of team members in order to arrive at the correct solution.

The exchange of vital cryptic clues held by opposite teams and exchanged at an agreed time adds the dimension of negotiation strategy to the competition. Successful negotiation tactics will foster team analysis of likely outcomes for different strategies and final agreement on the strategy adopted. Such a scenario encourages participants of each team to think, share ideas and discuss various approaches to reach a final decision. The implementation of the strategy adopted will necessitate correct timing, negotiation and delivery of the vital clue to the opposing team.

In-game objectives of participants/teams

Team participants work co-operatively to achieve an effective team and consequently solve the maximum number of cryptic clues. Team participants experience the impact of leadership qualities and the key value of communication in team problem solving and negotiation.

Game Rules and Regulations

Team participants receive a set of written rules, which are rigorously enforced by the team facilitators. Disqualification and certain failure result if cheating occurs or if one team withholds exchange of the critical cryptic clue required by the opposing team for completion. A graded penalty scheme is applied to team member rule infractions for example: 20 Euro deducted for each member failing to attend scheduled meetings, 300 Euro deducted for use of mobile phones during the game.

Critical Assessment of Game Elements, Motivation, the Effect of Subject Matter & How the Game Works

Game Elements

The cryptic clue set is characterised by a range of difficulty levels. The optimum challenge condition is met in that levels of difficulty are constructed appropriately to match the abilities of participants.

Each participant must engage in the information gathering process demanded by the cryptic clue solution. In so doing each participant affects the outcome for the team. Collecting and interpreting the data enables each participant to contribute to discussions with peers, so solutions emerge from linked clues in a team-supportive environment where communication is vital to success.

The co-ordination, organisation and behaviour of each team as an entity is the responsibility of the team leader(s). Team members through consultation and discussion early in the game decide the format of the team leadership. The leadership format may consist of a panel, different leaders for each part section, day, or a single overall team leader, etc. The attributes of leadership include: the ability to engender trust and confidence in team members; the ability to integrate the abilities and interests of the team toward achievement of predefined objectives; the ability to set limits, accept responsibility, make critical decisions in the absence of a team consensus; the ability to communicate decisions with clarity and explore their implications within the team.

Motivation

Participants in City Challenge easily make the commitment to join the game since the balance between increased perceived benefits far outweigh the personal costs of insecurity in facing new situations. This is made clear by understanding the relevance of City Challenge: that by achieving the objectives of increased communication, co-operation and leadership skills the boundaries of interaction are expanded allowing wider development of personal goals as well as achieving a more valued status within the organisation. Moreover, within the game itself, participants experience activities, which increase knowledge, as well as those, which indicate observable progress. The process of working through problems with team members demonstrates the power of co-operation. In addition, there are obvious external benefits inherent in taking time away from the home organisation to visit a beautiful historic city with a unique cultural and intellectual heritage.

Effect of Subject Matter

There is a good match between the subject matter of the cities and its history and the City Challenge management game format. The material is more than acceptable to most participants; the subject may be new but has sufficient scope to stimulate interest and motivation even for participants with a good previous knowledge of the specific city; the knowledge gained may later prove inherently useful. Although it may be argued that knowledge of an historic city per se may not be of any particular value, it cannot be denied that the methods by which the knowledge is collected, analysed and processed within the team environment leads to an invaluable appreciation of learning and the expansion of interpersonal behaviour. It is relevant to point out that the actual subject matter need not directly reflect the game's primary objectives. In fact, it may be argued that it is preferable for the subject matter to remain independent of the primary game objectives: the selection of neutral subject matter is acceptable to all participants regardless of bias or previous knowledge, while serving as a source of motivation. The game's methods and structure deliver the understanding, appreciation and absorption of the primary objectives.

How the Game Works

By completing the game process, which includes discrete tasks, participants experience the fundamental team building elements required to achieve the game objectives. The discrete tasks include planning exercises, information gathering exercises, and information sharing exercises, analysis exercises, communication exercises, and negotiation exercises. The game process is in part governed by the design of the cryptic clues. The design of linked cryptic clues provides a mechanism, which fosters team co-operation in order to obtain the required solutions. Communication, negotiation and co-operation between competing teams is promoted by the mechanism of vital cryptic clue exchange between opposing teams.

Critical Assessment of Behavioural Game Mechanisms

The strength or weakness of City Challenge depends less upon the splendid subject matter of a city and its history, than on the expected behaviour of participants which the management game is designed to elicit. A measure of how well the internal design structure meets known management game criteria is indicated by the following analysis:
  • Success depends on all team members interpreting the task in exactly the same way. In City Challenge, the competition element is made abundantly clear. The cryptic clue set must be completed against the clock to obtain the maximum number of Euro.
  • Critical data has to be gathered from separate linked clues obtained from many different sources. Such information has to be recognised and combined to complete a solution. In addition, critical data has to be obtained from the opposing team and processed correctly in order to achieve a successful outcome. This process ensures that awareness of relationships occurs and that these relationships are recognised and translated into a practical solution. To achieve the solution most efficiently requires the maximum use of communication, negotiation and co-operative skills.
  • In City Challenge, the highest standards of conduct apply. Certain failure will result if critical rules are broken: cheating, or failure to exchange the other team's cryptic clue.
  • The processes generated by the carefully crafted clues naturally create a high degree of correlation between the expected behaviour of participants and the intended outcome engendered by the internal game design.
In City Challenge, the elements of competition, team building and enjoyment combine in a focused way on a single subject - City and its history. As a result a powerful learning process is forged.

Conclusions

The analysis demonstrates clearly that the City Challenge game is well formulated and that the design structure of the City Challenge business management game facilitates the achievement of the stated game objectives.

Summary of Game Format

City Challenge management game is summarised according to the format scheme devised by Chris Elgood in Handbook of Management Games and Simulations, 6th Edition by Chris Elgood (Gower Publishing Limited, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 3HR, England. ISBN 0 566 07753 1). This format provides a quick overview of the game properties, principles and objectives.

City Challenge Business Management Game

Principle uses: Team-building; Team Development
Background: General.
Type of game/simulation: Information gathering, interactive problem solving.
Suitable for: Senior / middle management.
Acceptable numbers: Up to 40 teams of 8-15 members each.
Time requirement: 1 day
Intellectual/behavioural balance: Primarily concerned with the development of interpersonal skills.
What participants will be doing: Team participants gather information and work together to solve a set of cryptic clues within a fixed time period, against opposing teams.
How the game/simulation works: By completing the game process which includes discrete tasks, participants experience the fundamental team building elements required to achieve the game objectives. The discrete tasks include planning exercises, information gathering exercises, and information sharing exercises, analysis exercises, communication exercises, and negotiation exercises. The game process is in part governed by the design of the cryptic clues. The design of linked cryptic clues provides a mechanism, which fosters team co-operation in order to obtain the required solutions. Communication, negotiation and co-operation between competing teams is promoted by the mechanism of 'vital cryptic clue exchange' between opposing teams.
In-game objectives of participants/teams: Team participants' work co-operatively to achieve an effective team and consequently solve the maximum number of cryptic clues. Team participants experience the impact of leadership qualities and the key value of communication in team problem solving and negotiation.
Knowledge area covered: Human interpersonal group behaviour; motivation; analytical and inductive reasoning; time management, time risk assessment, planning and negotiation strategy.
Behavioural skills/qualities developed: Awareness; building trust; communication; co-operation; leadership; decision making.
Availability: As a consultancy presentation. Price on application.
Source: City Challenge, Read Edge Events, Culham Innovation Centre, D5 Culham Science Centre, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3DB, United Kingdom. Tel. +44 1865 408370 Fax. +44 1865 408373.

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