Detecting development challenges in a gamified workshop – Digikompassi has already been played widely across Finland
The Digikompassi game is based on a co-creation model in which the effects of different change drivers on one’s own organisation or shared activities are identified. During the game session, the players formulate concrete challenges based on the change drivers and start to look for solutions to them. At the end of the game, clearly defined steps are set for how to proceed to solve the identified challenge.
In our role as facilitators alone, we have been able to play the game in municipalities, multiorganisational cooperation groups and government agencies ranging from Rovaniemi, Kajaani and Pori to Helsinki. Even just the game sessions facilitated by us already total dozens and we still accept new invitations if our timetables allow it.
The game sessions have been praised overwhelmingly. While the game experiences have proved to be rewarding for the players, they have also been rewarding for us facilitators. Based on feedback and the observations we have made, the game and the way of playing it have also improved. The version of the game that we currently use was redesigned in the spring and seems to be suitable for solving an extremely wide variety of development challenges.
The topic of the game session organised in Pori was the promotion of employment and the collaboration of the different operators involved in it.
Where did we start and where have we got to?
The development of the game began in spring 2018 after a need for some kind of help in the formulation of digital strategies had been discovered by the Digital Municipality Trial project of the Ministry of Finance. The game was developed by playing its different test versions, which were then used to further develop the game during summer 2018. At the time, a diverse team was developing the game: there were representatives from the Ministry of Finance, from the D9 service-design team of the State Treasury and the from Population Register Centre. In addition, an expert in gamification supported the team in the development work.
The game was played in different organisations during the autumn, winter and spring. Some of the game sessions were held internally by the organisations and some were facilitated by the makers of the game. Because we noticed that the model structured by the game worked well in the identification of development challenges and forming an understanding of the solutions related to them, we decided to gather the feedback emerging during the game sessions and further develop the game. This way, the game originally planned for municipalities would be easier to adopt in government agencies and other (public) organisations as well.
In the context of co-creation, gamification means combining elements familiar from the game world with a goal-oriented workshop. A structure familiar from the game world directs the progress of the workshop but instead of finding a winner, the game is aimed at formulating a shared goal, which in this case is a framework for the development plan. The game-like elements such as the cards and the game board support the structure created by the game and provide inputs that direct the discussion. What is most rewarding about playing is not the game itself but the discussion emerging between the participants when they work towards finding and achieving a shared goal. There is normally very seldom time for this at work and the game gives all players the opportunity to take part in the discussion as equals.
We have requested feedback from the participants after each facilitated game session. The feedback is constantly used to further develop the game.
Is there any sense in this?
Yes, a lot of sense. Now that six months have passed from redesigning the game and after numerous game sessions, we can to say that the update was worth it and all the objectives set for it were met. The game works well with differently composed groups of players and with different substances. In past game sessions, we have developed digital steps for a large organisation, looked for cooperation methods for the promotion of employment, discussed the development challenges and solutions of municipalities of different sizes, and pondered how an organisation consisting of multiple organisations and providing multisectoral support could operate more efficiently and better listen to the needs of its customers and employees.
The game sessions organised in the different organisations have also taught a lot to us, the makers of the game. We have had an opportunity to learn about sectors that we knew nothing about before. We have learned to know some wonderful people, heard about the development challenges that different organisations have, and seen very closely the everyday work of those who develop different organisations and services. The challenges are seldom about digitalisation, but digitalisation is where they culminate.
The observations we have made during our visits will significantly help us further plan (together with other promoters and developers of digitalisation in the public sector) the new Suomidigi platform. I don’t think there is a single digital solution that could on its own solve the challenges of operational development. A change in the operating practices is always required in the background. By developing Suomidigi, we want to ensure that the developers and promoters of digitalisation are not left on their own with the development challenges they face.