The Critical Success Factors of Running A Game


October 18, 2019

In our latest video series, Chris Paton talks to Richard Withers, a consultant specialising in Decision Games for the Pharmaceutical Industry. After 11 years of building up his very successful consultancy firm, he sold it and now works as a strategic advisor. Here’s Richard’s very own honest opinion of how he ended up in Decision Games due to his self-professed misdemeanours: 

“After securing a well-deserved 3rd in Physical Education from Cardiff I was launched into my first negotiation lesson – pacifying my father, who suggested sensibly the military may knock some sense into me. A short time later I left the army having led an “average” career leading unfortunate soldiers to places which I cannot name, not on the grounds of secrecy, but because I was lost. Halcyon days indeed. After (in ascending order of stress) business school, several different jobs and children, in 2004, with my wife Sarah, founded a consultancy serving the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Amongst other services we ran many, many “war games”. It seemed to go very well and our business was acquired in 2015. Now, after a 3 year non compete, Sarah wants me “out from under her feet”, she makes a good point, I need a fresh challenge”.

In the latest instalment of our video series, Chris highlights how it is virtually impossible to facilitate a pressure test from within because the facilitator will not be impartial. Richard discusses the importance of buy-in during the planning phase and how pressure testing can help you save face by ironing out the flaws in a plan before it is too late.

Chris highlights how psychologically important it is for the team to have enough time to implement a plan. Having time to implement a plan is an obvious practical consideration. However, on a much deeper level, it allows team members to adapt to the change psychologically. There is always a degree of emotional attachment to developing a plan that the leader must be aware of. The individual can feel like it’s a personal attack, rather than a challenge to the plan. Time allows them to adapt and gain perspective, avoiding drops in morale in the process.

Chris and Richard discuss what the factors are that lead to successful decision games. These can include the management of expectations, the inclusion of a wide selection of participants, skilled facilitation and sufficient time to implement the agreed-upon plan.

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