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Leadership Skills from MMOs: From Guild Master to General Manager

HBR agrees with Joi Ito. MMOs can provide a social environment where you pick up leadership skills like people management, challenge navigation, and resource allocation. Not only that, you could get a job at Yahoo!

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Wagner James Au provides highlights from a more recent study on the topic  "World Of CEO-craft"
"The best sign that someone’s qualified to run an Internet startup may not be an MBA degree, but level 70 guild leader status, according to the latest issue of Harvard Business Review."

  • Embrace Failure As a Rung on the Success Ladder
  • Rotate Individual Managers to Individual Goals
  • To Get Better Management, Change the Game

Interview with Joi Ito in The Chronicle of Education
Q. I’ve seen you quoted about your love of playing World of Warcraft, the multiplayer video game, and how it has taught you to be a better leader. How has online gaming prepared you for this job at the Media Lab?
What’s interesting about a World of Warcraft guild is that you’ve got a group of people who are showing up and actually paying money to play this game, and as a leader of a guild, you’re trying to encourage a bunch of people to do a bunch of administrative work, come up with guild bylaws, and cooperate. And this is similar with volunteers at Creative Commons and open-source projects. It’s trying to lead a bunch of people who are just there because they want to be. It’s a very different kind of management than say managing a bank or an investment bank, where you’ve got sticks and carrots and structure. The leadership method of online communities and World of Warcraft and open-source projects is actually really similar to doing something like leading a bunch of super-smart, creative academics and students.

Older article from wired, How a WOW leader got a job at Yahoo! as Director of Operations

"I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done," he says. "Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task." His story - translating experience in the virtual world into success in the real one -�is bound to become more common as the gaming audience explodes and gameplay becomes more sophisticated. The day may not be far off when companies receive r�sum�s that include a line reading "level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft.

Joi Ito has been talking about it since 2006.

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Photo of Arjan Tupan

Interesting. I think skill building in game-like environments is something that has been going on for years. Whether it is role play in trainings, World of Warcraft or business games. I remember from university that we were given a game to understand the mechanics of managerial decisions and stock prices. It was very simple, but it helped understand how things work.