Prof. Csikszentmihalyi: My contributions to FLIGBY


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This book is about Prof. Csikszentmihalyi's official "Flow Leadership" program.

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Paul Marer – Zoltan Buzady – Zad Vecsey Missing Link Discovered Integrating Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory into Management and Leadership Practice by using FLIGBY ® – the Official Flow-Leadership Game With an essay contribution by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


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QUICK FACTS ABOUT FLOW » Flow is a mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment. Flow, creativity, and happiness are related. » Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a distinguished social science scholar, found an inventive way to make happiness measurable. A group of teenagers were given beepers that went off during random times throughout the day. They were asked to record their thoughts and feelings at the time of the beeps. Most beeps indicated that the teens were unhappy. But when their energies were focused on a challenging task, they tended to be more upbeat. This early study and many later ones helped shape his Theory of Flow. » Studies conducted around the world have shown that in whatever context people feel a deep sense of enjoyment – even if the task is simple – they report a remarkably similar mental state that many described by using the analogy of being carried away by an outside force, of moving effortlessly with a current of energy. Csikszentmihalyi gave the name “Flow” to this common experience. » While most people enjoy working when it provides Flow, too few jobs are designed to make Flow possible. This is where management can make a real difference. » For a manager or leader who truly cares about the bottom line in the broadest sense of that term, the first priority is to eliminate obstacles to Flow at all levels of the organization and to substitute practices and policies that are designed to make work enjoyable. » A workplace conducive to Flow is ideal because it attracts the most able individuals, is likely to keep them longer, and obtains spontaneous effort from their work. It is best, too, from the viewpoint of employees because it helps them to a happier life, and it supports their skill development and personal growth. » Flow is a dynamic rather than a static state. A good Flow activity is one that offers a very high ceiling of opportunities for improvement.


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QUICK FACTS ABOUT FLIGBY » Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has co-produced FLIGBY, teaching how to generate FLOW at the workplace. » Designated by experts as the globe’s top leadership development game (Gold Medal Prize, International Serious Play Awards, Seattle, 2012). » Employs real-life simulation, in an interactive, movie-like setting; teaching how Flow can be promoted at the workplace. Aspiring as well as experienced managers will identify with it and learn from it. » FLIGBY is the “gamification” of the Flow-based leadership growth process. We show the reader how one can build an entire course around it or use it just to enrich and enliven existing courses. » Although FLIGBY is Flow-based, the leadership challenges and the options it presents are fully compatible with a wide range of leadership theories and approaches, enhancing them all. » At the Game’s end, FLIGBY provides an individual report to each player on his/her skillset, with a range of benchmarking options available. » FLIGBY brings excitement and inspiration to the teaching of a wide span of leadership topics; most players experience personal Flow during the Game. » FLIGBY is available as a powerful management-training and consulting tool with which to approach any organization interested in improving the performance of its managers/leaders. Try it in a course and see where it can lead! » FLIGBY’s large data-set offers a unique research opportunity because the players’ leadership skill measurements are based on non-intrusive observations, yielding unbiased outcomes. » Part II of this book walks the reader through the Game, not only for his or her own enjoyment, but also to provide a 21st century tool to enrich research, teaching and consulting practice.


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TABLE OF CONTENTS Quick facts about Flow Quick facts about FLIGBY Purposes and structure of the book Symbols used on the margins of the text MY CONTRIBUTIONS TO FLIGBY (Essay by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) IV V 1 5 7 PART I. FLOW AND LEADERSHIP: theory, science, values, measurement and practice 1. THE SCIENCE BEHIND FLOW AND FLIGBY 1.1 At the intersection of positive psychology and leadership 1.2 “My [Csikszentmihalyi’s] Way to Flow” 1.3 More about Flow and its context 2. LINKING FLOW AND LEADERSHIP 2.1 Leaders versus managers 2.2 Connecting Flow with management and leadership 2.3 Removing obstacles to Flow 2.3.1 Imbue work with meaning 2.3.2 Make work-conditions attractive 2.3.3 Select and reward the right individuals 2.4 The role of values 2.4.1 An ethical responsibility framework 2.4.2 A leadership responsibility framework 2.5 Flow-based leadership practices in the real world 3. MEASURING LEADERSHIP SKILLS 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Skills are measured during the Game Validating FLIGBY’s leadership skillset Business use of FLIGBY’s tailor-made skill combinations Methodology of establishing a player’s leadership skill profile 17 19 20 21 31 33 33 36 36 40 41 42 42 44 47 53 55 57 59 65 PART II. FLIGBY: game objectives, features, and instructional uses 4. FLIGBY’S PLOT AND HOW THE GAME PROCEEDS 4.1 The plot links leadership and Flow 4.2 Interacting with your team and making decisions VI 73 75 77


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4.3 How do I win this Game? 4.4 How much time to play the Game? 5. THE WORLD OF SERIOUS GAMES 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Definitions and key features Growing demand for simulation videogames Serious games in (business) education and training Creating and using serious games 79 84 87 89 96 97 102 107 115 117 117 120 122 123 127 6. PLAYING FLIGBY: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE 7. MULTIPLE FEEDBACK TO PLAYERS AND INSTRUCTORS 7.1 Overview 7.2 Feedback during Game-playing 7.3 A report on the strengths and weaknesses of a player’s leadership profile 7.4 Debriefing discussions 7.5 Summary of the Game’s multiple feedback points 8. FLIGBY: A PHOTODOCUMENTARY PART III. LEADERSHIP AND FLOW: new vistas for teaching and research 9. FLIGBY AS AN ISTRUCTIONAL AND RESEARCH TOOL 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Summary of the book through this penultimate chapter FLIGBY as an instructional tool FLIGBY as a corporate leadership development tool Digital Appendices supporting instructors and scholars 155 157 160 165 167 171 173 175 178 182 186 188 VII 10. “LEADERSHIP AND FLOW”: A RESEARCH PROGRAM 10.1 FLIGBY offers a creative platform for academic research 10.2 Example of a planned research project 10.3 The research program and network Glossary Authors Acknowledgements


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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 1.1 - Summary of Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s contributions 1.2 - “States of Mind” during an individual’s everyday experiences 1.3 - The Flow Channel 1.4 - Flow Dynamics 1.5 - FLIGBY’s dashboard with the “Flow Meter” 2.1 - An individual ethical responsibility framework 3.1 - Leadership skillset identified and built into FLIGBY 3.2 - FLIGBY skills and categories juxtaposed with those of the ECQ system 3.3 - Strengthsfinder's leadership skills arranged according to Strengthsfinder's themes 3.4 - FLIGBY-Csikszentmihalyi leadership skills arranged according to Strengthsfinder’s themes 4.1 - Snapshot of FLIGBY’s main user interface: what the player sees 4.2 - Listen to a brief introduction of your Turul Winery team 4.3 - Stylized examples of typical dilemmas 4.4 - FLIGBY’s “Triple Scorecard” and the “Spirit of the Wine” award 5.1 - Serious games at the intersection of learning, games, and simulation 5.2 - Key game-enhancing features of FLIGBY 5.3 - Age distribution of video-game-players in the USA 5.4 - Teaching with FLIGBY: a blended learning approach with a “flipped” classroom 5.5 - Seven types of digital learning products 7.1 - Example of Mr. Fligby’s personalized coaching feedback 7.2 - Core elements of FLIGBY’s software architecture 7.3 - The constellation of FLIGBY’s feedback system 10.1 - Distinctive elements of the "Leadership and Flow" research program. 10.2 - Organogram of the planned “Leadership and Flow” program and network 62 63 76 77 78 82 91 95 96 99 104 119 121 124 178 180 19 22 26 28 29 43 55 61 VIII


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LIST OF TEXT BOXES 1.1 A glimpse of how Flow is handled in FLIGBY 2.1 How we use the terms “manager” and “leader” 3.1 FLIGBY players’ scores: India versus the USA 4.1 Interpreting “winning” and “not winning” 7.1 Core elements of FLIGBY’s software architecture 9.1 An example of FLIGBY as a leadership development tool 10.1 FLIGBY’s classification of job categories 29 33 68 80 120 166 176 IX


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Introduction PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK The seeds of this eclectic book originate in Budapest, Hungary, at the crossroads of East and West. This country – that many consider to be a “periphery nation”– has also been known, historically as well as today, for the innovative ideas of its people, creating products and services that have gained global acceptance. Contemporary innovations, like Prezi, Ustream and LogMeln, are just some of the examples of recent global startups originating in Hungary, that were conceived through fruitful cooperation between academia, people with technological savvy, and business entrepreneurs. This book is introducing just such an innovation that, we believe, has the potential of becoming an educational service product that will gain global acceptance. The overarching purpose of this book is to describe, discuss, and analyze an entrepreneurial innovation: an attempt by a group of extraordinarily creative individuals to transplant Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s widely-known Theory of Flow into a teaching and research tool which will illuminate and enhance effective managerial and leadership practice. The “missing link discovered”, referred to in the title of the book, is the global-award-winning serious management game called FLIGBY. Referring to this innovative Game, Csikszentmihalyi, in his essay that follows, professes that FLIGBY “is a bridge between my lifetime of scientific work and aspiring and practicing managers and leaders who are interested in my ideas but are not sure how to apply them in everyday practice.” FLIGBY is an exciting Game in which each individual player assumes the role of the general manager of an imaginary Californian winery. Each player has to make 150+ decisions, applying the key ideas embodied in Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow concept and Flow-related value system, as best as she or he can. During the Game, the player receives continuous, individually-tailored feedback, designed to guide her or him toward Flow-based managerial practices. The feedback continues after the Game ends: each player is sent a report about his or her relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of both the general leadership skills and those that are especially important if one wishes to live, 1


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PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK Introduction work, and lead according to Flow-based values and Flow-promoting practices. This makes the Game an innovative management/leadership development tool. A basic purpose of this book is to discuss how to teach the application of Flow-based leadership skills via FLIGBY, first in academia, then also in business and in other types of organizations. University courses (especially in graduate programs) are targeted because most university graduates will have managerial/leadership responsibilities during their careers. The Game – whose lessons are likely to be remembered long after the play is over – is an effective general preparation for performing well in future managerial/leadership roles, irrespective of the nature of the organization, position in a hierarchy, or the type of culture where the graduate will find himself or herself. Given that CEU Business School faculty and students have contributed to FLIGBY’s development by providing detailed feedback on its early versions and participating in troubleshooting small problems, this book’s faculty coauthors have acquired a good understanding of the Game’s nuts and bolts and perceived its large potential as a modern teaching tool. In the process, they came up with alternative ways about how FLIGBY can be used effectively in the classroom. Before this book was written, there existed only a general and as yet incomplete set of digital instructions on using FLIGBY in university courses and business training programs. This book now also serves as a comprehensive user manual to FLIGBY. We hasten to add that much of the detailed technical and other “manual-type” documentation has been placed into two-dozen, so-called Digital Appendices (DAs), available to interested parties upon request. Another fundamental purpose of this book is to discuss how new areas of leadership research can be supported by combining (1) the theory of Flow, (2) the concept contributions embedded in FLIGBY, and (3) the large and uniquely unbiased databank being generated by the growing number of players who had – and will have – fully completed the FLIGBY game. Below are brief statements on each of the three components. 2


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Introduction PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK ① The theory of Flow has been highlighted already (p. IV). Chapter 1 discusses the concept of Flow in greater detail: how it was discovered, with what methods, what the theory is all about, and what practical applications it has in the lives of individuals and organizations, in business especially. ② Chapter 2 links the concept of Flow with leadership, with statements and examples showing what actions by managers and leaders help create a Flow-friendly organizational culture and environment. Embedded in the concept and practice of Flow-promoting management is a set of values and leadership responsibilities. A key conceptual contribution of FLIGBY’s design to the academic and applied work on leadership is the identification of those leadership skills that are particularly important for helping to generate and maintain Flow at the workplace. While there is a substantial overlap between what might be called the mainstream sets of leadership skills and FLIGBY’s “Flow-supporting” leadership skills, FLIGBY and this book make a contribution in this area by introducing, or putting greater emphasis on, certain types of leadership skills. An example is “feedback”, a leadership skill more comprehensively defined in FLIGBY (in terms of specifying what content and delivery will make it effective), where feedback (or its absence) are given a greater weight in the FLIGBY skillset than is usually found elsewhere. (Chapter 3 provides details.) ③ The large and uniquely unbiased leadership-skill databank generated by FLIGBY’s players is a tool for supporting new types of both academic and practice-oriented research on leadership. FLIGBY’s contribution here is the unbiased nature of the skills-data-observations generated by its players. Both of the widely-used standard approaches to obtaining leadership-skill data – self-assessment and third-party evaluations – tend to be biased, for reasons explained and documented in a recent Harvard Business Review article, summarized in Chapter 101. Let us give just one example here of a promising research project that would combine the above three resources – one that can make a valuable contribution in a relatively new and rapidly expanding field, called #predictive-people-analytics. 1 3


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PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK Introduction For example, the data generated when a group of managers of an organization play FLIGBY could be used to predict the management group’s future behavior under different strategic challenges that the organization may face. This kind of sophisticated strategic modeling is becoming an ever-more-important part of the strategic planning of organizations because it helps to identify leadership skills gaps, one of the frequent causes of the strategic failure of organizations. The authors of this book are not yet in a position to present conclusive research findings. Nonetheless, one contribution of the book to scholarship is proposing potentially significant research projects, such as predictive people analytics, which have the potential of making important academic as well as applied business contributions. * * * Part I of the book discusses the science and value propositions of Flow, how leadership and Flow are linked, gives many examples of Flow-promoting leadership practices, and introduces a new method for systematically measuring the skill-levels of those who complete FLIGBY. Part II is all about FLIGBY: its plot, the Game’s objectives and features, the assumptions and methods employed in its construction, and its wide range of uses in teaching, training and research. Its concluding chapter tells the story, via an annotated set of photos, of how FLIGBY was produced. Part III introduces the reader to the authors’ planned global Leadership and Flow research program. The research initiative, which is just beginning, is an open invitation to academics from various disciplines and to managers and leaders of organizations, to join us in an endeavor to advance the science and practice of effective leadership. This initiative is being supported by the organizations with which the authors are affiliated. Professor Csikszentmihalyi – whose essay on his contribution to FLIGBY follows next – is a founder and participant in the Leadership and Flow Research Program. 4


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Introduction PURPOSES AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK SYMBOLS USED ON THE MARGINS OF THE TEXT Throughout the book, the reader will see on the margins three types of icons: Instructional innovation (INO) – whenever we recommend innovative approaches to teaching Flow, and the Game FLIGBY, that go beyond what might be considered traditional teaching approaches (i.e., lectures, slides, simple case studies, class discussion, and exams), those instances are signaled. The INO icon thus calls attention to innovative teaching applications that represent a set of contributions of this volume. Information technology application (ITA) – the purpose here is to signal to those who are not yet intimately familiar with all the whizz-bang IT stuff (that are as natural to today’s computer-literate generation as water is to fish) that there may be something “new” here for certain readers. Flow-based value statement (FVS) – The authors wish to emphasize that this book, focusing on Flow and FLIGBY, is not just about reporting scientific findings and technical explanations and recommendations concerning the Game, but it also incorporates important value statements that are integral parts of Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory as well as of FLIGBY. The FVS icon signals where such value statements are found. Added insight in the text will be occasional hashtags (placing the symbol # in front of a word or an un-spaced phrase) calls the reader’s attention to a specific theme or phrase related to the content of this book that some readers may want to explore on blogs, discussion forums, and other professional and social media platforms. Most of our hash-tagged items are concepts defined in the Glossary at the end of this volume. Digital Appendix (DA), where further details about the indicated topic can be found. The list of Digital Appendices, with their numbers and titles, can be found at the end of Chapter 9. # DA 5


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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi MY CONTRIBUTIONS TO FLIGBY MY CONTRIBUTIONS TO FLIGBY by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 1 Why this book, why this essay? I am not a disinterested outsider who does a favor to his colleagues by writing the foreword to their book. I am a passionate, involved, and grateful insider who welcomes and celebrates this book because it translates and extends my research in ways I could not have accomplished myself. The title of the book, Missing Link Discovered, is apt because it captures well its ambition and contribution: The book – together with the innovative FLIGBY game, which is the focus of the volume – has created a bridge between my lifetime of scientific work and aspiring and practicing managers and leaders who are interested in my ideas but are not sure how to apply them in everyday practice. 1 The photo shows Prof. Csikszentmihalyi holding his new passport, upon regaining the Hungarian citizenship he had before the Communist era (Los Angeles, November 2014). 7



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