Complex Learning Online

I’ve just played BT’s Better Business Game (thanks Kim for the link). It’s a simulation-slash-decision-game that takes you through a year’s worth of decisions with some impact on corporate social responsibiity. As a game it was an elegant way of pointing out that corporate social responsibility is about being able to manage different sets of stakeholder relationships, sometimes at odds with each other.

I didn’t do too well, I pretty much alienated my shareholders, and my top rating was from the external pressure groups. So when the Board lets me go, I guess I know where I can look for a job… However, the closed options approach of a simulation (three choices for each decision point) and the ongoing graph of stakeholder sentiment meant that towards the end I was making decisions just to try to keep all my stakeholders happy, and not so focused on doing the right thing any more. This worries me a bit, because in real life you can be inventive, and in real life, you can manage relationships and trust in other ways than single-point-decisions. That’s why I prefer decision games to closed-option simulations with predetermined answers built in. And I don’t think CSR is just about keeping stakeholders happy. It’s important to keep them on board, but it involves more than that, and the game suggests your popularity rating is the main thing.

So a neat learning device, not sure completely about the messages underneath.

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