This interview is dedicated to Dr. Zoltán Buzády, a professor of Leadership at Corvinus Business School, Hungary, the leading university in the Central European Region and beyond. His area of expertise is in Flow-promoting Leadership combined with simulations and serious games, as the third element into it. Our interview focuses on a virtual game FLIGBY (www.fligby.com) that can teach us all quite something… This leadership development game is based on the principles of positive psychology, #Flow. Flow is as a scientific concept, a phenomenon and a useful tool to find meaningful experiences in your life. Flow was first described by world-famous professor Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who is also a global expert of creativity and happiness studies. More on the content of Flow and Fligby can be found on www.flowleadership.org.
What is the gap Dr. Buzády and his team aim to fill with FLIGBY? Why is it needed at all?
There is no cognitive gap in understanding what Flow is, anyone can read about it in global best-seller books. But the trouble is the question of your personal time constraints, your own interests and focus. There are lots of self-awareness and mindfulness training available also – thus, there is no gap in experiencing Flow in your own life. One way of developing mindfulness is a classic exercise with sultanas: you start to look at a single sultana for a very long period of say 3-5 minutes. You try to feel it and smell it, taste it and slow down. Then your brain is actually focusing on the activity and your senses become more developed. But this is not a gap of knowledge, the trouble we are addressing is HOW to turn Flow into practice in your own work life and as team leader?!
The real gap we have discovered and now can resolve is thus: ‘how to use Flow theory and its advantages in practice as a leader, to the benefit of your own employees, to promote your team spirit and results, for the overall benefit of yourself and of all your colleagues?! This is why we have elaborated and published a new, Flow-promoting perspective on leadership. Together with professor Csíkszentmihályi, we have developed an official leadership program,called FLIGBY, which stands for: Flow is Good Business for You.
FLIGBY thus fills the gap of how to explain and how to train people leadership along the principles of Flow. For this purpose we use the most modern technology, a simulation game. It is like a safety zone, i.e. you can safely learn by making mistakes and receive corrective and stimulation feedback from our virtual coach but drive by the intelligence of the IT system.
During our game is all about managing a fictional Californian wine company online www.turulwinery.com. The characters in the game will be your management team members, and they tell you their business ideas, their personal ambitions and frustrations, as well as their dislikes and conflicts at the imaginary company. Now, your task is to find out how you can help your employees to enjoy their work under your management. You take 150+ decisions over the simulated wine season, about 1 year, and you aim to move all of them closer to their Flow zone. But if you take unfavourable decisions your colleagues experience anxiety or become bored.This is shown to you constantly on a scientific Flow-radar, a feedback tool based on positive psychology experiments.
So, we can train our players, business school students and managers, any person how to lead themselves in a business environment so that they and the others can also move into Flow Zone. We have the system and global perspective for that to fill this gap by training the people in totally new, modern digital, fun and effective way.
It is not enough to know what good leadership theory is, the essence is to turn it into practice!
What are participants expected to learn from playing and developing with FLIGBY?
Students who are rather young when starting the game, they would typically discover the complexity of governing a company. They have been typically taught easy tasks,things to calculate and to apply algorithms to a situation. In FLIGBY you can develop the Fingerspitzengefühl: you discover the implications of your decisions, so that your brain can focus on that complexity of individual vs. group vs. financial impacts of any managerial decision. There are lots of data the students need to remember – like who is the chief winemaker, who is in the team, you need to discover the alliances.The game characters, - by-the-way we do not use simple avatars or animation,but professional Broadway actors - they all like or dislike each other for various reasons – sometimes it is professional, sometimes personal reason.Sometimes there are historical company events and personal stories inside this company you need to discover for yourself and to be aware of. Just like in areal company! As a result of playing the game, the BA students discover: Wow,this is it like how to manage a company and they often will be overwhelmed with that. FLIGBY is a unique opportunity to start working with the strategy, finance and leadership later on. (MORE on this on on-line interview - What can Fligby teach us?)
This is great, but what can FLIGBY offer for MA/MBA students and managers?
It is much better to use FLIGBY with MA-level, for advanced students. This is because they can already integrate their existing prior knowledge on strategic management and decision science and HR. They also need to decide operative questions which have real business dilemmas, such as ‘should the employees work during the night or day time, when the harvest season is extremely hot?’. Master students also will benefit from developing new skills of ‘how to give feedback’. In universities and even in business schools they do not learn how to give feedback for each other. So in FLIGBY this is possible because they experience good and negative feedback themselves during the game play. After each decision or action the characters tell them whether they liked or did not like your decisions.
However,the most learning is done by those who have some years of work experience already: they get a personality profile of 29 leadership skills, a global benchmark and start to think which of their skills they should explore even more to find more personal Flow at their real work places. They often replay the game to get deeper personal insights and experiences also! – (MORE on this on on-line interview - Who could benefit from the game the most?)
How the universities could join Fligby?
As university professors and Director of the “Leadership & Flow Global Research Network“, I am interested to bring Flow and FLIGBY to a much broader field, to leadership education and management training. Our network is looking for future local partners across the globe, who want to cooperate in the development of the knowledge around the Flow-promoting leadership. This can be done by developing new teaching materials around FLIGBY. For instance,combining new or existing case studies with the FLIGBY game process. I expect people to play FLIGBY first for themselves, to discover what it is, and then to send me a concrete proposal in which they describe their ideas. In return we can sponsor their training and teachings with some subsidised FLIGBY access codes and intellectual-professional support of our research network. We are also encouraging more fundamental research. There is lots of conceptual work to still be done about the new role of good leaders, about gamification and simulation games such as FLIGBY, and how it can enhance the modern learning process. So, we can also engage in testing of other Flow leadership programs, but without modern technology. Anybody, who is interested in this, should thus first explore the FLIGBY web-page and use Fligby as it exists in his or her academic context.
In order to play the game, simply write me a letter with your professional and institutional background, your interests and future teaching or research ideas.After playing the game, make me a proposal about how you want to use it.
Let’s go with the Flow!
Interviewed by Marge Sassi
junior researcher/lecturer/PhD candidate
Estonian Business School