Home Green Business It’s a Jenga world in any case

It’s a Jenga world in any case

It’s a Jenga world in any case


Reprinted from GreenBuzz, a free weekly publication. Subscribe right here.

The sport of Jenga and sustainability might appear to have little in widespread. In spite of everything, one includes a fragile and sophisticated balancing act the place disturbing a vital piece of the system may result in its general collapse. And the opposite is … nicely, Jenga.

Jenga, for the uninitiated, is a well-liked sport, originated in Britain and now marketed by Hasbro, the sport and leisure firm whose manufacturers embrace all the pieces from Monopoly and My Little Pony to Transformers and Tornado.

The sport’s title is derived from the Swahili phrase for “construct.” It consists of 54 wood blocks stacked in towers — 18 layers of three blocks every. Gamers should take away one block per flip at any degree beneath the very best layer in such a means that the tower doesn’t collapse. The sport ends when any portion of the tower falls.

What number of social and environmental “blocks” can one take away earlier than the complete system collapses?

Jenga has been ascribed with myriad advantages for gamers, together with enhancing motor abilities, guide dexterity and hand-eye coordination in addition to bolstering problem-solving, decision-making and technique abilities.

Certainly, there appears to be no scarcity of metaphors and analogies about what Jenga means or the teachings it purports to inform. Various internet pages are dedicated to comparisons of Jenga — to the alternatives we make in life to relationships, the inventory market, management, even failure.

However much less so to sustainability. Which appears a missed alternative: What number of social and environmental “blocks” can one take away earlier than the complete system provides means?

True, it’s a extremely imperfect metaphor. For starters, Jenga is a sport that may be performed again and again. Simply rebuild the blocks, and also you’re again to sq. one. That isn’t potential with sustainability, through which some collapses — of local weather stability, biodiversity, public well being or social order, for instance — can take years, many years, even centuries to rebuild.

And with regards to sustainability, “gamers” encounter the tragedy of the commons, the place one’s self-interest might trump the well-being of the collective. With 8 billion people — to not point out billions of different critters and species — impacting the “blocks,” you could have little management. Your go-to technique might be foiled by somebody with a unique technique, or with no technique in any respect. And but every resolution is impactful, figuring out the soundness of the general system.

Furthermore, sustainability Jenga just isn’t a zero-sum, winner-take-all affair. Somewhat, it’s about collaboration, synergy and interdependence. What occurs to the system if you take away the pure sources block, the social fairness block, the democracy block? What blocks, if any, can we do with out? That are keystones stopping the complete system from failing? How does the self-interest of various gamers have an effect on the general system’s stability?

Teachable second

Whereas rooting across the web, I used to be delighted to see a number of examples of Jenga used to show ecological resilience. One model, for middle-school college students, can be utilized, based on its authors, “to introduce ecosystem ideas (e.g., an ecosystem has residing and nonliving elements, several types of ecosystems reminiscent of tundra, desert, and many others.),” utilizing color-coded Jenga blocks representing animals, crops, water and air.

One other model, designed for upper-level agriculture and pure useful resource undergrads, illustrates “the idea of resilience in pure useful resource use, coverage and administration.”

One more, for ninth graders, known as “Biodiversity Jenga!” was designed “to elucidate change and stability of biodiversity, examine biotic and abiotic elements of ecosystems and determine the roles and relationships of organisms of their group when it comes to impression on populations and the ecosystem.”

Wow! I want ninth-grade me had benefited from such knowledge.

I like seeing these. However it could be a disgrace if such doubtlessly highly effective instruments can be found solely to the younger. What’s the potential to make use of these video games inside firms to assist groups perceive what’s at stake — the varied trade-offs inside enterprise technique and implementation­­­? How can they assist fine-tune or overhaul provide chains or enterprise fashions to fulfill the second?

The complexity and fragility we encounter each day appear to be steadily rising. We’ve lengthy understood the reliance by enterprise on the pure surroundings and the interdependencies between economics and ecology. What’s much less understood, at the very least by the lots, is the systemic nature of the alternatives we make — pull a thread right here and one thing unravels over there, usually with unintended penalties.

Can Jenga present a window into that complexity? It’s exhausting to say, however the metaphor is simply too compelling to dismiss as some trivial pursuit.

Have you ever used Jenga as a educating software in your group? If that’s the case, kindly drop me a notice about what you’re doing and the way it’s working.

Thanks for studying. Yow will discover my previous articles right here. Additionally, I invite you to observe me on LinkedIn, subscribe to my Monday morning publication, GreenBuzz, from which this was reprinted, and take heed to GreenBiz 350, my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy.



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