Sriram Padmanabhan, CEOThe goal of leadership development is to find out—today—how your future leaders are likely to handle organizational leadership responsibilities tomorrow, and to prepare them for aspects of the job that they are not yet ready for. It is hard to get an accurate read on this. No amount of analysis of their current jobs will give us an idea about what they would do in a higher role, in different circumstances. Hypothetical questions would only get answers that they know you WANT to hear. You could use sophisticated tests to assess them, but knowing competencies or personality is not the same as knowing how exactly they will tackle very specific situations, under pressure, in a dynamic organizational context.
This is precisely what Cymorg does. Cymorg offers a platform on which organizations can configure a gamified model of their own business and allow their senior employees to try out their decision-making skills. Padmanabhan, President and Founder of Cymorg, says, “I think it was Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, who said that we are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of a child at play. We make sure the player is completely focused on winning the game. The more they are immersed in this activity, the more they find the context true to life, the likelier it is that their actions in Cymorg reflect their judgment, capabilities and beliefs.”
Cymorg has a database of over 250 scenarios to test managers, for organizations to pick from and include in their game. New scenarios can be added as well. These critical situations are carefully woven into the gamified environment along with the company’s real data or realistic data. At the outset, an employee (‘the player’) is informed about strategies and organizational goals that the current leadership has set, and the time period to achieve them. Every scenario that takes place, and every decision made by the player, changes the data somewhat. Based on how the data changes, Cymorg’s machine learning algorithm picks new challenges and scenarios from the database to present to the player. At any point in the game, if the value of certain critical parameters like profitability, investor confidence or client satisfaction dips below a threshold, the players get “terminated” and the game ends.
Leaders learn decision-making by making decisions, not by reading books
Learning happens in a variety of ways on the Cymorg platform. Detailed reports of participant behavior in the game helps leadership teams make informed decisions on the development needs of their teams, their readiness for future roles, and the level of alignment of the key employees with organizational objectives, strategies, values, risks and opportunities. The employees learn from the analytical reports (about their competencies, priorities and preferences), as well as from social channels—their coaches, mentors and peers, whose advice they can seek during the game. Through repeated use players hone their skills at tackling dozens of different situations.
As a cloud-based platform, Cymorg supports participation from any device with an internet connection, anytime anywhere. Moreover, the platform can be configured for any organizational domain in the world.
Last year, the CEO of a small fintech company wanted to revamp the firm’s product portfolio, but recognized that unless his senior executives were willing to transform their behavior, it was going to be difficult to transform the organization. Partnering with this company, Cymorg studied the link between strategy and individual decisions at this company, and configured a contextual game that highlighted the desired behavioral shift in every transaction. Soon, Cymorg will be deployed across all business units and all top management levels.
Cymorg continues to build new features into the software: next stop, chatbots and natural language processing! They also plan to have a version out soon targeted at would-be entrepreneurs.