Exploring a future of energy through a room-sized board game simulation module

Ever wondered what it would be like to experience multiple years of energy sector transformation within a room-sized board game? That sense of wonder can now be reality with the Newtonian Shift. What is the Newtonian Shift?  It is defined as a business strategy simulation that allows participants to immerse themselves in a day-long demonstration that explores the transitioning energy sector.

Before diving into the game, it is important to understand the following key concepts and how the simulation utilizes predictive analytics and learning habits to extract and examine insights of the changing Future of Energy:

  • Change
  • Experiential Learning

Change.

Change is always a complex topic when it comes to human nature and how individuals react.  It is in our biology to want to understand and predict change. And naturally, change can sometimes be a difficult concept to comprehend.  Humans are built to resist change; therefore, they look for ways to understand and predict change even before it happens.  One vital predictive method for change is patterns.

From youth, our education system has conditioned us to think in patterns and in doing so, we think that patterns can better prepare us to predict changes.  As we grow-up learning to “think in patterns”, we are better able to utilize data and predictive analytics to forecast change.  The Newtonian Shift simulation examines evidence-based data analytics and patterns within the evolving energy sector as a basis for the demonstration.

However, it is not always about the analytics and patterns we notice.  Sometimes a pattern may deflect and lead us down another path. In that case, predictive patterns no longer satisfy that gap of understanding how a change may or may not take place. This brings us to another key element in the development of the Newtonian Shift simulation: experiential learning.

Experiential Learning.

“Experiential learning is critical. As you learn, “your brain changes, reflecting new decisions, mind maps, and reality sorting [1]”. We must understand that as we immerse ourselves in issues and events happening around the world, that our minds are ever-growing and evolving to adapt and comprehend the changes at hand. Experiences influence our way of thinking. Thus, the Newtonian Shift’s secondary method of the demonstration utilizes facilitated sessions to examine and extract insights to the changing “future of energy”.  For example, one participant’s experience can lead to a reaction will affect the entire simulation, whether a pattern was present or not.

Spark’s Newtonian Experience. 

Spark participated in a Newtonian Shift simulation in May, where we engaged in the full-day experience of what our energy’s future “could be” based on decisions made by the participants in the room that day.

The simulation allowed players to experience these transitioning energy shifts via a board game style simulation.  Participants explored “what if” scenarios for the future of the energy sector while representing a diverse set of perspectives including, energy producers, private customers, large energy customers, First Nations, suppliers, grid operators, investors and government [2].  Each role played a vital part in the direction of the simulation.  The fast-paced experiential learning module gave participants insights around the energy transition, the sector representation and how it all components impact change.

Energy Transition – the energy economy is changing. It is no longer about selling more power, but rather how to manage the supply and demand with a lower carbon impact.  This is the shift from centralization toward distributed generation. With the evolving energy economy, the developments of new regulatory and commercial models have become priority.  We must learn to create more power by using less.  We must learn to adapt to the changes and engage in the experiences.

Sector Representation – The simulation explored behaviours and strategic decision-making skills of each participant’s role.  Participant empathy, via first hand perspectives, allowed for the understanding of unique needs for individuals in different areas of the energy system.  In that, system awareness and comprehending one’s overall role, while exploring leadership qualities, were other insights the participants experienced during the activity.

At the end of the day, we left the sessions with a sense of possibility and understanding of how different reactions from various connected parties all affect the future of energy.

Takeaway Message

Change separates the ordinary from the innovators.  Together with experiential learning mechanisms, Spark was able to participate in an informative and thought-provoking experience that allowed us to explore “what if” scenarios in a challenging and innovative board game format.  We truly recommend participating in a Newtonian Shift experience of your own – see how YOUR knowledge and choices can affect our Future of Energy!


REFERENCES

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2013/04/08/why-were-so-afraid-of-change-and-why-that-holds-businesses-back/#52b1911f5cd0

[2] http://energyfutureslab.com/the-newtonian-shift/