The Power of Being “Self-Guided”

The Power of Being "Self-Guided" - Perspectives on Leadership and Innovation

BentoBoxes distill decades of innovation and change management learnings into a powerful framework that allows teams to thrive without the hindrance of traditional facilitators. Drawing inspiration from the world of games, the process mimics the immersive and self-guided nature of board games. Just like Monopoly captivates players with its strategic allure, the BentoBox process empowers teams to uncover their full potential. Each BentoBox weaves a compelling storyline, where the participants themselves become the characters driving change and collaboration. It’s a groundbreaking approach that taps into the emotional elements of decision-making, fostering engagement and lowering barriers to collaboration.

In this interview we talk with Jarin Tabata who led the development of the BentoBox modules while working at SYPartners, a world-class consulting and design firm that helps organizations drive transformative change by combining strategy, creativity, and leadership development.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-led processes empower teams by fostering open communication and freedom.
  • By removing the presence of a facilitator, teams can be more authentic in their interactions.
  • Drawing inspiration from board games, participants figure out the rules together, thus inspiring collaboration and engagement.
  • The storytelling approach taps into the emotive elements of decision-making, interaction, and collaboration, lowering barriers and enhancing engagement.

The Conversation

Question: Why is it important that these are self-guided rather than relying on a facilitator?

Jarin: We thought that perhaps teams might be discussing confidential information or be working through quite private tensions or issues of the team. The journey of a team is not always pleasant, and so having a facilitator who is highly present and super engaged might actually hinder the candor and the freedom for a team to work through things together and to really be themselves.

And it was an interesting design challenge: How far can you design a physical, in-person experience that is self-guided as much as possible? And personally, I was very inspired by games. I think that those are a great example of self-guided experiences. People can open up a board game, read the rules, and they can figure it out together. If you look at some of the best board games ever invented, such as Monopoly, they have a certain way of instructing you and clarifying how game play works: what constitutes a turn, how many people should participate, and what are the roles they play. This person’s the banker, and this person handles the real estate, etc.

We were inspired by those formats and inspired by the way that game makers helped players understand both the rules of the game and the larger strategy, your whole point of playing the game, and how those games to drive or inspire certain behaviors or outcomes. So I think that was also another a big inspiration how we designed them.

Tom: I first encountered SYPartners about 15 years ago when I was working as the chief learning officer in a Japanese bank.

I was meeting regularly with SYPartners because they were working on a large change project in Japan. And when I got to learn about them, what I felt was very unique about their process and working with clients is that they often had a journalist that was part of a project team. The journalist’s role in that project team was to tell the story. And so the storytelling element is present in all of the BentoBoxes.

Beyond the gamification of these processes, there is a very coherent storyline that runs throughout each BentoBox. There’s a starting point of the story, and there’s the whole arc of the story. And the characters in the story are actually the people working on the challenge in the room.

That was one of the things that really struck me about why SYPartners consulting processes is quite different, and that it really drew upon more emotive elements of how people make decisions, of how people interact, about lowering barriers to collaboration and change so that people could really get engaged with a process. And I really feel that that’s very much a part of the BentoBox design.

About the podcast

“Perspectives on Leadership and Innovation” is a podcast hosted by Tom Pedersen, Founder and CEO of BentoBox Innovation.

With special guest Jarin Tabata, Global Consultant, Transformation and Innovation.