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As an educational tool, the war game shows how to use business architecture by enabling people to actually experience it. Customization and personalized game play were key to designing the game. Giving players the freedom to make their own decisions motivates them to proceed and persist because the game was progressing according to their choices. My colleague Radhika Patel, a systems engineer at ARDEC, and I spent six months creating the game scenario and all of its components.

COMPETING TEAMS

The game began with two competing teams, the Tiger Team and Skunk Works. Each team comprised six or seven ARDEC government employees, mixed in age and experience, who assumed the role of midlevel managers.

Each team received an email from its respective director, played by the Control Team, that included their competency plan and explained some of the strategic goals they were trying to achieve. Their objective was to develop a budget proposal to be reviewed by the Project Management Team. The director was convinced that the project management office could use their services to help perform threat analysis on potential new projects. Based on this insight, he assembled the Skunk Works team and the Tiger Team to devise strategies to tackle the problem.

Team members got colored tokens to use with the capability map. Each token represented an enabler of a given capability. In our game, capabilities are enabled by four key aspects, including people, process, tools and information. These enablers define how well ARDEC performs a capability.

Players used a maturity rating table that outlined the four enablers and how to measure their ability on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest maturity. Every project manager needs to know the level of ability the organization has to perform a job. (In fact, the tool provides that information to anyone—office chief, director, president or anybody else in the organization.)

The game pitted two teams (Skunk Works and Tiger Team) against each other. The Market Team was a third team that role-played as an ARDEC customer: a project management team. The Control Team was made up of the author and Patel, who ran the game and influenced team actions with outside forces. (Graphics courtesy of the author)

The game pitted two teams (Skunk Works and Tiger Team) against each other. The Market Team was a third team that role-played as an ARDEC customer: a project management team. The Control Team was made up of the author and Patel, who ran the game and influenced team actions with outside forces. (Graphics courtesy of the author)

 

For example, if I lack trained and experienced people, the people enabler for the capability in the game will be red. I might have a procedure to follow that is working well, so my process enabler is marked green. That signals to me that I have an issue with my people, but not my process.

Similarly, one of the capabilities in the game had the people enabler marked as red. Determining that they needed to invest in the people enabler of that capability, the teams selected as many green people tokens as they felt necessary. It was important for teams to see that they not only had to pick which capability, but also that there could be different reasons for investment. Do you need to invest in your people? Do you need to develop a process? Those different enablers all have different costs associated with them and require a strategic discussion to determine what’s needed to get the job done.

To make the data more visible, we developed a tool using the measurement criteria from the maturity rating table to automate the effects of investments on the maturity level of each capability. This tool also automatically calculated the cost to the program manager (PM). Since they were competing, there was lots of discussion about how much money they thought the PM would be willing to spend. Teams were aware that they were competing to win a contract; this competition underscored the importance of strategic discussions on what to invest in, and how.

MEANWHILE, ON THE PM TEAM …

Meanwhile, the Market Team—made up of five ARDEC employees acting in the role of a program management office—also received an email from their director, played by the Control Team. A more scenario-driven narrative gave them a sense of urgency. This scenario focused on an anti-access and area denial situation in which adversaries are able to destroy our GPS technology, causing a serious problem with navigation and communication. In the game, participants kept returning to this threat and why it was so important to make certain moves, because ultimately they were keeping our Soldiers safe.

We added another variable to the mix. Changes in resources prompted the director to request the cost to outsource the work to an engineering services group at ARDEC. He assigned the team the task of determining if the value ARDEC could provide was worth the cost.

The PM team knew ARDEC’s capabilities, but had no insight into the ratings of their enablers. Selecting and ranking ARDEC capabilities that they believed needed to be used for a threat analysis provided a basis for comparison with what was in the ARDEC proposals.

To help make a decision, the team created a decision-analysis-and-resolution tool. Decision analysis and resolution is a structured approach to evaluating alternative solutions against established criteria to determine a recommended solution. Some of the criteria the PM team established were correlated to their strategy and whether the capabilities aligned with their capability prioritization.

THREAT ANALYSIS STEPS In the war game scenario, the project management office sought to outsource work when doing a threat analysis. The two teams evaluated their capabilities to see if they could support the PM and created a proposal that included the cost to the PM to build up capabilities that were not at a sufficient capacity to meet the PMs objective.

THREAT ANALYSIS STEPS
In the war game scenario, the project management office sought to outsource work when doing a threat analysis. The two teams evaluated their capabilities to see if they could support the PM and created a proposal that included the cost to the PM to build up capabilities that were not at a sufficient capacity to meet the PMs objective.

 

THE GAME CONTINUES

The game continued over the course of three days, with two three-hour sessions on days one and two and a one-hour session on day three. The driving motivation came from two main forces built into the game: urgency and competition. In addition to competition, the anti-access and area denial scenario provided a sense of urgency and explained the strategy behind the decisions.

By giving the teams the business architecture artifacts, ARDEC was able to create the right environment for decisions that allow us to align with the future. Teams aligned their decisions with where they wanted to go—our strategy for the future—and their proposals included the business decisions required to back up the technical ones.

KATHLEEN R. WALSH is a business architect at ARDEC. She is a Certified Enterprise Architect from Carnegie Mellon University, and holds a Master of Engineering degree in systems engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and a B.S. in computer science from Ramapo College of New Jersey. She holds a Certificate in Leadership Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania; earned certificates in game design, story and narrative development from California Institute of the Arts; received business architecture training from the Business Architecture Institute; and studied filmmaking at the Barrow Group in New York City. She holds professional memberships in the Association of Enterprise Architects, the Business Architecture Guild and the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), and she has spoken at the Business Architecture Guild’s Innovation Summit, the IIBA Building Business Capability, the Twin Cities Business Architecture Summit and the National Defense Industrial Association’s systems engineering conferences.


This article will be published in the October – December 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

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