“Polyphonic Games” for Leadership Training
This paper examines theoretical aspects of games’ designing in the context of training managers and leaders. Successful leaders are required to be flexible and adaptable. Effective performance as a leader must be learned actively. Around the world various theoretical frameworks are in use for supporting the use of games and simulations as part of this process of connecting theory to action. The work reported in this paper begins with an examination of current understanding about the importance of learning to enact transformational leadership. It begins with a rationale indicting requirements for simulations and games as learning contexts for leadership development. Then it introduces Bakhtin’s theories on ‘polyphonic’ and ‘ventriloquistic’ learning designs and describes how this work can assist those educating others for leadership roles to choose wisely when planning and implementing leadership development programs. The concept of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ designs for active engagement in learning has been explored in simulation and games literature in other cultural contexts and Bakhtin’s contribution extends and enhances the relevant conceptual frameworks. It emphasizes the value of using learning processes that do not include pre-determined outcomes, thus allowing participants to co-create processes and results demonstrating their capacity for flexibility, initiative and responsiveness to what is actually present within the context of the moment.