Thursday, October 15, 2009

Knowledge Games

David Gray’s lecture on Knowledge Games demonstrated Gray’s interest in games as models of thinking and working. He argues that right now there is a transition of power from large corporations to smaller groups and individuals. Gray believes that success in a knowledge economy requires a different way of thinking and working. He argues that the focus of a knowledge-driven company must be on creativity and systems thinking rather than planning and efficiency.

Gray’s selection theory of evolution outlines two strategies of growth:
1. k large companies (i.e. elephant)- this strategy of working struggles with adapting to change. This structure is hierarchical, improves incrementally, albeit slowly, over time and has a tendency to be lasting. However, eventually this system will collapse. This structure is organized from the top down in that there is cohesion between management that is separate from the cohesion between the workers. Gray provided the example of factories to demonstrate this strategy of working.

2. r small companies (i.e. birds)- this strategy of working embraces trying and failure is common. This structure is anti-hierarchical, creative and adaptive to its environment. There is a tendency for r ‘species’ to be successful for a shorter period of time compared to k ‘species’. This species manages from the bottom up since there is a shared common goal. To exemplify this mode of working Gray referenced creative companies such as Yahoo.

Gray also believes that new k ‘species’ will continually emerge that are new and successful. (i.e. google)

The company MetaMemes shares Gray’s passion for games. Text from the MetaMemes website echoes Gray’s emphasis on non-hierarchical structures over hierarchical structures in a knowledge economy: “Infusion of innovation shouldn’t hinge on a company mandate. It can organically emerge from the bottom-up through changes in individual behavior.” Kes Sampanthar is a creator of ThinkCube, a game originally intended for “game-playing geeks” according to MetaMemes, which sold out within one year to an unexpected market of innovative professionals intending to use the game for brainstorming purposes. ThinkCube is available to purchase online and includes The Idea Library- a collection of ideas, creative techniques and words, The Idea Handbook- a guide to the ThinkCubation process and The Idea Notepad- where the participant’s ideas are saved.

Check out free sample of ThinkCube at

Now I know what you’re thinking, 100 dollars is steep for students who may or may not have at one point resorted to eating edamame, stale banana bread, a cup of spaghetti sauce and jam directly out of a jar for a meal, but what would your response be if someone asked you to put a price on your Scattergories or Taboo board games?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tiffany,

    Thanks for the kind words about ThinkCube and MetaMemes!
    This is a great post about the different types of companies 'k' and 'r'. ThinkCube is aimed at helping people in 'k' type companies organically evolve innovation and also people in 'r' type companies that already 'get it' but are always looking for more tool/games to help them keep their edge.

    Kes Sampanthar
    Inventor of ThinkCube