Behavioral apnea or change?


It’s been four months of intense learning…
I can think of no more effective way of explaining what an “ARG” is and what it’s for than to reflect on these four months.
First of all, “ARG” stands for Alternate Reality Game and it is a game in which it is not always possible to separate our daily reality from the reality proposed by the game.
This type of game has been a constant inspiration used by Immersis to explain what immersion is and what immersive experiences are for.
We use these “ARGs” to make participants learn, feel and want to change.
In a way, that’s what’s been happening to us for the last four months, in an intense way.

From one day to the next, we were faced with the impossibility of being close to each other, forced to wear a surgical mask so as not to infect those who might be close to us, because we knew and know very little about the possibility of being infected but asymptomatic.
We locked ourselves away for 14 days to try to reset a reality we didn’t know, we washed and washed our hands like there was no tomorrow and we started working remotely, pushing the balance between managing the focus and managing the home context to the limit. We had to integrate all this and much more into our “daily game”.
A new reality.

Now let’s imagine for a moment that all this happening in the world is the plot of a game!
The rules of the game are the ones we’ve come to know over the last four months and the goal is very simple: each of us becomes better than we were – better in every dimension and perspective we can imagine, from health and well-being to happiness, from interpersonal relationships to skills development and so on.
We find ourselves playing this game so intensely and immersively that, after a while, we can no longer distinguish exactly which is the “real” reality and which is the reality of the game. Or have we always paid special attention to the journey taken by our own hands and, above all, those of others?
It was the game that caused these changes in us. This is what an ARG does.

An ARG (a “serious ARG”) then serves to help us change behaviors, using the experiential aspect of learning. When we take part in an ARG, we are made to do things in a way that we wouldn’t do in the “real” world and this allows us to draw conclusions about these new “ways of doing”.

Let’s now take a slight detour in our train of thought with a question: this game has led us to change many behaviors in our lives, but can we talk about change?
The context has changed and we have changed with it, in an almost coercive way, adopting some habits that we believe are positive and healthy, so in some respects we have changed for the better, facing a noisy awareness of a new and demanding reality.
But gradually, as this notoriety decreases in volume, i.e. we hear less about the subject and are less alert, we find ourselves easing back, slowly returning to the old paradigm, even in behaviors that we should perpetuate (e.g. we no longer wash our hands as often; we no longer always sneeze into our elbows; we no longer exercise as much as we did during lockdown; etc.).

This is the big question that people and organizations face every day: how do we ensure behavioural change?
Four months of intense learning have passed… the ritualization of new habits, a great opportunity for individual and organizational change, but we don’t know what will last. We should probably make permanent those behaviors that have transformed our lives for the better.
That takes courage, we’ll see.

At Immersis we don’t have all the answers, but we do have some:

  • experiential or immersive approaches applied to the field of skills development and behavioral change have a greater impact on the “intention to apply what I’ve learned” than just talking about these topics in a training room – as demonstrated in this “real-life ARG”;
  • if we want to implement effective behavioural change, we have to change the contextual variables, both in the personal and organizational domains (e.g. if we want the people around us to adopt English as the official language of the organization, we have to speak to them in English and they will only get feedback if they speak in English);
  • behaviors will only last if there is courage, from the people themselves and from the organizations that want to see those behaviors changed.

One last provocation: do you know exactly what behaviour you want to change in yourself or in your organization?
Start there… or talk to us!

Carlos Moreira, Partner at Immersis.

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Behavioral apnea or change?