Engaging professionals with serious games: the Lean Healthcare Lab at Siena University Hospital

Federico Barnabè (Department of Business Studies and Law, University of Siena, Siena, Italy)
Maria Cleofe Giorgino (Department of Business Administration, Finance, Management and Law, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy)
Jacopo Guercini (Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, Siena, Italy)
Caterina Bianciardi (Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, Siena, Italy)
Vincenzo Mezzatesta (Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, Siena, Italy)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Publication date: 2 May 2017



This paper aims to stimulate interest in the potentials of serious games within organizations. Through the examination of a case study, emphasis is given to serious games designed for health care (HC) organizations that are adopting lean thinking principles and tools.


The paper discusses how serious games can be designed and implemented in practice by describing a case study based on a HC organization. The program, now in its second year, has been used extensively to train HC professionals.


The article is based on the authors’ firsthand experience with serious games and the outcome of several projects carried out in the HC setting under analysis. Serious games were found to be powerful training and management development tools as well as engaging environments for professionals. Specifically, The Lean Healthcare Lab supported professionals in their use and implementation of several Lean principles and techniques.

Research limitations/implications

The article suggests the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of serious games also to improve team performance and develop leadership skills.

Practical implications

Serious games have an enormous potential in sustaining processes of both individual and organizational learning, as well as facilitating improved teamwork. Moreover, serious games are very effective educational tools when compared to more conventional programs.


The approach described in this study can be used to design and implement serious games in any type of organization, in particular, those employing highly skilled professionals. Additionally, this article highlights how serious games can provide learners with a simulated close-to-reality environment where they are challenged to develop policies and use a variety of Lean and management tools.



Barnabè, F., Giorgino, M., Guercini, J., Bianciardi, C. and Mezzatesta, V. (2017), "Engaging professionals with serious games: the Lean Healthcare Lab at Siena University Hospital", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 7-10. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLO-06-2016-0051

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