Grad Students Find Business Flow

Grad Students Find Business Flow

Have you ever found yourself so effortlessly absorbed in what you're doing that you've lost track of the time and maybe even forgotten to eat?

Renowned psychology professor and TED presenter Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state of pleasurable immersion “flow" and believes that it comes about when a person's skills are matched with a challenge that's just difficult enough to be interesting but not so hard that it's overwhelming.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, individuals aren't the only ones able to experience flow. Organizations can too. With the right management techniques, an entire company can be brought into flow. And when that happens, productivity increases and managers, employees, and even customers are happier and more satisfied.

This winter, Oregon MBA and Master of Accounting students in Avamere Professor of Practice Michael Crooke's leadership course had the opportunity to test their own flow-inducing skills through an interactive online leadership simulation game called FLIGBY (Flow IS Good Business).

Originally developed as a training tool for C-level executives and managers, FLIGBY lets players try their hand at managing a fictional California winery. Crooke's students were the first students in North America to use FLIGBY in their coursework. Their feedback and comments will help Csikszentmihalyi and his team of game developers fine-tune a version of the game designed for graduate students.

During eight to ten hours of game play, each student tried to tame the winery's warring staff and enable team members to work together in harmony while tapping into their own best talents. Throughout the simulation, participants received immediate feedback from Mr. Fligby, a virtual coach. When the game wrapped up, students received reports showing how they rated in active listening, strategic thinking, time management, and 24 other leadership skills.

For Emilie Proulx, MActg '15, the FLIGBY experience confirmed a key personality trait of which she was already aware—an organized, get-things-done attitude—and also revealed a surprising new aptitude.

“My number one strength, according to FLIGBY, was social responsibility," said Proulx.

This self-knowledge is something Proulx will take with her into the future—whether it's her current elective course in impact investing, when she starts as an auditor with Deloitte later this year, or in the leadership roles she'll take on during her career.