<aside> 🗣️ Forget what you think you know about Dungeons & Dragons, and please, put the cheap jokes aside. I’m talking about a multifaceted, collaborative game that’s fully shaped by the people who play it. Fundamentally, it’s about friends, storytelling, action, creative thinking, and probability. What’s not to love, or at least respect?
Many people discover D&D as teenagers, but I was introduced to the game as an allegedly serious adult, so I had a fair amount of work experience by the time I began playing. As a result, I’ve come to understand that D&D can bring an exciting — even magical — perspective to that typically dry, boring professional experience: the worksession. In fact, they have a lot in common.
What can serious(ly bored) businesspeople learn from D&D?
Think of a Dungeon Master (or DM in the biz) as the facilitator of the game. They set up narratives, articulate the mission and challenges, act as a point of reference for rules, and occasionally, punish players.
However, a DM is not a manager or boss of the players. Rather, they enable player agency and allow people to control their own decision-making and storytelling. A good DM is empathetic, reading the room and guiding everyone with the right questions, hints, and tools.
Who’s in the room matters. A room of wizards will always find a magical solution, a room of rogues will always find a sneaky solution, and a room of bards will always attempt to sing their way out of trouble.
However, the hardest puzzles in life (and D&D) cannot be resolved by a single skill set. They require a diverse mix of skills, backgrounds, and perspectives. More than any other factor, who’s in your party determines your party’s success.
A collective mission is what ties a party together. Beyond personal goals — like avenging one’s family or getting a raise — the big mission spans a campaign.
You want success that goes beyond yourself by bringing justice to the region, stopping the Black Spider, slaying the dragon, and meeting quarterly revenue projections. Your mission must be explicit (otherwise, how will you know what you’re doing?), but the method of accomplishing it shouldn’t be. That’s for the party to decide, together.