Jun 22, 2010

Managing Incompetent Jerks, Lovable Fools and Developing Leadership Skills Through Multiplayer Online Games - a Summary

Article Reflection
Article: Competent jerks, Lovable Fools, & the Formation of social Networks
Leadership's Online Labs

The article "Competent jerks, Lovable Fools, & the Formation of social Networks" talks about how people choose their work partners according to two criteria:
  • Competence at the job
  • Likability

What is more important is how these two criteria matter in forming informal relationship at work. Naturally people tend to pick the lovable fool over the competent jerk. Personal rapport really matters when forming a relationship at work. The benefits of working with familiar and similar people are immense. The work flow is smoother and expectations are clear. This openness clears a path to new ideas and develops trust between the work partners. With that comes liberal access and free sharing of whatever intellectual information the lovable fool might have. But the shortcomings of working with similar minded people lies in the limited range of perspective it offers.

In contrast working with a competent jerk provides varied perspective and leads to innovative solutions. You might have have a really good time working with somebody you like and not get anything done whereas working with a person with serious skills can bring about the intended results. Creating innovative ways to leverage the skills of competent jerks and lovable fools can be very challenging indeed for managers. But by foster work relationships between such groups of people can yield beneficial results to the organization.

The second article "Leadership's Online Labs" talks about online role playing games where the issues of leadership are very similar to what you would find in a traditional organization. The study talks about "successful leadership in online games has less to do with the attributes of individual leaders than with the game environment, as created by the developer
and enhanced by the gamers themselves".

While the problems and tasks are structured and predefined in these online games, the tasks of accomplishing them are similar to what happens in an typical organization. You form groups, recruit talent, assign tasks, and focus to completing the goals. So essentially the skills acquired and developed in a multi player game have value in real world as well. So in a sense these online games offer a chance to develop leadership skills necessary in today's ever changing business environment.

The ability to take decisions on incomplete information at lightning speed and then modify later when more data is available encourages risk taking. Facing failure is an accepted norm and the idea is "let's try that again". Organizations can create such environments where failure is tolerated. The ability to switch roles from leaders to followers in multi player games offers valuable insight and brings forth talent in previously overlooked situations. The concept of temporary leadership in traditional organizations is unknown, but can prove very valuable by bringing the real talent in forefront by doing so. The notion of the right environment can lead to the development of leaders is rather unwelcome and the traditional view of leadership is an inherent or developed skill is more accepted in today's world. But "gamifying the work environment" in future can actually help improve the quality of leadership.

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