Role Play anyone?
on August 18, 2015in News

Role Play Anyone?

Some learners just love a bit of role play. Others loathe the very idea. But are we missing a trick?

I recently came across a news item about KidZania, a new educational entertainment centre for four to twelve-year-olds at the Westfield Centre in London.

This is where kids can learn about the adult world through role play in a safe environment, trying their hand as firefighters, pilots, singers, actors, doctors, bankers, police officers or around fifty other roles. The centre’s aim is to ‘ignite the hearts and minds of kids everywhere by empowering them to make the world a better place’ (just as we all aim do to do with our adult clients?)

Doesn’t your mind just fizz with possibilities for taking some of your leadership groups or senior management teams on such a creative and inspiring journey of discovery? No more death-by-PowerPoint classroom sessions on business planning, budget management or leadership. No, let’s all be newsagents or bank managers for the day – who knows what fresh insights we might pick up? Or why not just let your ‘free child’ roam as a chocolatier, bell ringer or fashion model?

The centre even has its own economy, through which participants earn KidZos for the ‘work’ they do, which they can then use to pay for goods and services during their visit. They can manage their finances at on-site ATMs and even open a personal account to deposit and save the money they have earned for their work, complete with a customised debit card. All very adult and responsible, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But of equal if not greater importance to my mind is the need to promote the development of interpersonal skills, which I am happy to say is integral to the KidZania approach. Could this be the opportunity we have all been searching for to help our overworked, harassed senior executives finally grasp the importance of emotional intelligence and real teamwork?

Westfield, here I come (that is if KidZania will allow me to breach their upper age limit just a tad). In fact I’m thinking of filling a bus. Anyone care to join me?

Norrie Gilliland
July 2015

A Sideways Look at OD: One of a series of occasional articles about the ‘other world’ of OD. Find them at and follow us on Linkedin.

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