Richard D. Duke and Jac L.A. Geurts
Policy games for strategic management
Pathways into the unknown
A book on strategic 'macro' problems
Decision quality refers to the situation in which those who had to take a dramatic decision and those who assisted, can without doubt and remorse say:
"We took the best decision we possibly could and we did everything in our power to prepare for its successful implementation."
This book explains how and why gaming-simulation techniques have been used in Europe and the United States to improve decision quality on a special class of bewildering and threatening strategic problems that are defined as strategic volcanoes or "macro-problems." Eight case studies of the strategic application of policy gaming (a derivative of war gaming) in large and outstanding organizations are described and analyzed.
Summarizing 30 years of practical and academic work, Duke and Geurts reveal how traditional management methods need to be integrated and supplemented in situations that have macro-problem characteristics. The new approach must be faster, employ many different persons, be reasonable in cost, be flexible and be capable of assimilating a very large number of variables that derive from both internal and external sources.
The process: war gaming for corporations
Policy gaming is a participative strategy process; the book illustrates this with the eight cases and several chapters on methodology. These describe the architecture of the policy exercise: five broad phases in which specific steps are followed.
The design process is an interactive and sequential process which guides the client through a series of collective inquiries and communication activities that help the organization to arrive at a holistic understanding of a complex problem. As the participants move collaboratively through the final gaming/simulation exercise and towards the assessment of possible impacts of major decision alternatives, they become involved, reassured and motivated.
The process of objectification that takes place helps to reinforce memory, stimulate doubt, raise the right issues (disagreement forces further discussion), and control the delegation of judgment (those who are affected can check the logic of action). This "virtual look into the future" also helps to explore the unfortunate situations wherein an elected strategy gets off track. The exercise places the potential of failure on the agenda and that makes it much easier to re-direct a failing strategy. Games serve as vehicles to develop realistic, mature, and well-grounded strategies.
The discipline: gaming/simulation for strategic management
The monograph is oriented toward a professional/academic audience. Duke and Geurts have written a major addition to the field of strategic process management. It is also a significant contribution to the discipline of gaming/simulation - it presents the logic of the policy exercise as well as a detailed design process. The content is well-grounded in academic theory and research. However, the authorsí main focus is on applied science; citing many examples, they present the reasoning and experience of reflective practitioners employed to reach pragmatic goals.
The book provides a distinctive intellectual contribution in that it combines a broad analysis of the existing academic literature in strategic management and policy gaming. It integrates these two into a new, theoretically grounded practice of managing strategic issues that permits an organization to simultaneously master complexity, optimize communication, stimulate creativity, develop consensus, and trigger a commitment to action.
The result: pathways into the unknown
Knowing the future is not a managerial responsibility, preparing for the future is. Organizations often face new situations that are threatening, complex and urgent. Facing this uncharted territory, policy makers must lead their organization into the terra incognita, the unknown land beyond the borders of past experience and strategic planning.
Designed for organizations facing crisis, the technique provides a multiple-perspective, small-group problem-solving and decision-making approach for organizational strategic management.
Richard D. Duke and Jac L.A. Geurts are academics of long standing; both have also been professionally engaged as consultants and practitioners in the areas addressed in this book. They are leading members of the International Simulation and Gaming Association, ISAGA and have both served as presidents of the organization. They have taught invited professional seminars on policy gaming in many different countries in Europe, America and Asia. They have published extensively over their careers. This book is the logical fruition of two lifetimes of research, practice and teaching.
Richard D Duke is Professor Emeritus of the University of Michiganís College of Architecture and Urban Planning and former Chairman of the Certificate in Gaming/Simulation of the Rackham Graduate School of his University.
Jac L. Geurts is Professor in Policy Science at the Social Science Department of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and he teaches strategic management at the TIAS Business School of this University.
Table of contents
Section I - Setting the stage
1. About this monograph
2. Entering uncharted territory
Section II - Practice: Description and analysis
3. Eight case studies
4. Five key criteria and the case studies
Section III - Theory and research
5. Multilogue: A language for complexity
6. Empirical research and the policy exercise
Section IV - Designing games for strategy
7. Understanding the policy game construct
8. Designing the policy exercise
Section V - Conclusions
9. The potential of the policy exercise