07/02/2014 12:50 EDT | Updated 09/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Forget the MBA, Board Games Teach You All You Need to Know


I think some of the best management tools are board games. I often play board games with my children, and besides providing the opportunity to learn a bit of math, reading, and logic, the games examine that all-important role of luck. We can't always choose our own circumstances (or children, for that matter), but we can roll the dice and move forward. If you've participated in experiential training programs, you'll know that most are built around games. Why not take advantage of ones that we already know and love and save the consultants fee?


My childhood was filled with many rounds of Monopoly. Which always seemed to end with me, or one of my hapless siblings, sitting with one bad piece of property and about $22, while our dad, the real-estate king, gleefully waited for us to land on one of his monolithic hotels, only to tell us that he wouldn't charge us the full amount so he could keep the game going and prolong our agony. I'm not sure what lesson we were learning there, except that when you're winning, enjoy every minute of it. And winning is so much better if someone else is losing tremendously.

The game itself teaches you to spend money to make money, and to do business with whomever you need to do business with. You might have been punching your brother during a snack break, but five minutes later you're doing a deal and combining forces to take down little sister. Monopoly is not for sissies.


Totally a game of luck, with the only mitigating factor being that you can decide whom you will send back home, depending on your mood, and the best move. Sort of like when you have the kids out at a function and you have two cars. Pick a spouse, pick a kid, and send them home with a big "Sorry." Also, no one who ever played Sorry is ever sorry. They should really call the game "Booyah."


One day I'm going to invent a game called "Get a Clue" and market it to teenage boys, but that's another story. Possibly another book.The object of the game is to figure out who killed Mr. Body, in what room, and with what instrument. It can be easy to get the right person, the wrong room, and the right instrument, but tricky to get all three.

I think this game can teach kids about calculated risk (in guessing before you're 100 per cent sure), waiting too long, and losing out because someone else guessed first on their turn. While it's important to have all of your ducks in a row, knowing when to make a calculated risk and move before all the evidence is in can make the difference between winning and losing.

Game playing requires a lot of luck. And dedication. Proving once again that Samuel Goldwyn knew what he was saying when he uttered, "The harder I work, the luckier I get." Pass the poker chips.

Excerpted from Kathy Buckworth's "I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The Business," McClelland & Stewart, a Random House Imprint, 2013.