Although the following story of armed conflict seems to have little to do with information technology, business, innovation or team building, if you hang on to the end, the application will surprise and challenge you.\nThe battle\nThey called him "Widowmaker"\u2014fitting, as he had produced many widows with his 7.62 millimeter sniper rifle. The mission was to locate and rescue three hostages. When you\u2019re deep in enemy territory you want only the best and most trusted comrades on your team, and Widowmaker had them. Jarhead, the back-up sniper; Globemaster, the infiltration aficionado; Cobra, the shoot from the hip and never miss rifleman, and Tooka, as in 'took-a-shot', the stealthy ambush expert; a team of men who sought no individual glory, only the welfare of the team and integrity of the mission.\nGlobemaster broke radio silence "I found the hostages and I\u2019m undetected. Escorting them to the extraction zone (EZ) along the East Ridge."\nWidowmaker said, "You are a sly devil, Globe; good job. Team, set up cover and drop anyone that doesn't salute the stars and stripes."\u00a0\nJarhead said, "Roger that, Widow. I am covering the East Ridge from my position in the north, and covering your position as well.\nCobra keyed his mic, "I am on the move to meet Globe and the hostages. I will make sure there are no unpleasant surprises on their way to the EZ.\nTooka said, \u201cI will post up on the eastern peak overlooking the EZ in case we get nosey neighbors snooping around.\nWidowmaker said, "I\u2019ll maintain my position on this hill. I can practically see the entire field from here.\nWidowmaker gave the team time to take up their positions and then he said, "Globe, time to break up the poker game and bring your new drinking buddies home."\nGlobemaster said, "I\u2019m on the move, Widow, and I expect a keg when I get there.\u201d\n\u201cThe best I can do is a chopper ride to the base bar, buddy. All right guys, stay sharp,\u201d Widowmaker said, chuckling.\nGlobemaster and the hostages sneaked out of the unguarded shack and quickly advanced undetected to the East Ridge. A few clicks into the hike the group rounded the corner of a boulder and stumbled into a lone enemy solider.\nGlobemaster quickly dispatched him, but the loud report from his unsilenced rifle alerted other enemy soldiers in the area. Five un-friendlies began advancing on Globemaster\u2019s position. Widowmaker took out two of them from half a mile away.\nHearing the raucous party, Cobra advanced at a trot toward Globemaster\u2019s position and took out two more aggressors along the way. The fifth soldier scurried to a hiding place behind several large rocks. Widowmaker radioed the fifth aggressor\u2019s position to Cobra who tossed a grenade into the enemy\u2019s cozy nest, sending him scurrying right into Cobra\u2019s iron sights\u2014he was history.\nSuddenly Tooka reported several enemy soldiers advancing from the west toward the EZ. Widowmaker turned his rifle scope toward them. Tooka methodically took a shot and felled the first man. The second turned to fire upon Tooka but Widowmaker cut him down from the hilltop across from Tooka, and Tooka put a period on the sentence calmly taking out the third man.\nWidowmaker turned back to check Globe's progress. Suddenly Widowmaker heard Jarhead's calm voice on the radio, "Widow, duck." Without question or hesitation Widowmaker dropped to one knee, not knowing why. The answer came in the form of a single tracer round that whizzed an inch above Widowmaker's head taking out an enemy solider that had sneaked to within yards of Widowmaker, and only seconds from making Widowmaker's wife a widow.\n\u201cHeck of shot, Jar.\u201d Tooka said in admiration having observed the scene.\nJarhead said, \u201cSorry for the haircut, Widow.\u201d\n"Thanks, Jar," Widow said. \u201cYou saved my bacon.\u201d\nJarhead said, "Thanks for ducking. You gave me the few inches I needed to get him in my sights."\nWidowmaker said, "Globe, enjoy your walk because this team has the field locked tight. See you at the EZ."\nThe lesson\nThe lessons in teamwork and trust had become second nature. This team of internet video gamers had become unbeatable. So much so, other teams began refusing to play them. But it did not start out that way.\nNot long after taking charge of a new IT department, I found that teamwork did not exist among engineers. The problem was causing performance issues\u2014mistakes, rework and downtime.\nAfter unsuccessfully spending months trying to teach teamwork, I came up with the idea of using internet video war games to make them experience the value of teamwork.\nWe started a Tuesday night video game club and quickly gained members, I am sure somewhat owing to the fact that employees would have a chance to fill their boss\u2019 avatar full of lead. We divided the group into two teams, and I insisted on joining the weakest team.\nWeek after week my team lost battle after battle, but I consistently encouraged my comrades to practice teamwork, trust one another, learn each other\u2019s strengths and weaknesses, play for the team and not to achieve personal bests.\nIn a few months we became unbeatable. When our opponents asked how we had risen from worst to best, my teammates informed them, \u201cIt\u2019s simple; we work as a team and we trust each other. We take care of each other. We know each other so well, we don\u2019t even have to report our movements most of the time.\nI saw the lessons learned from our gaming nights begin to permeate daily behavior at the office. Technicians began measuring their team performance at work by how well they modeled the same behavioral principles on Tuesday nights.\nIt was an unlikely experiment, with an unlikely tool\u2014a video game\u2014but it instilled an enduring commitment to teamwork better than anything else we tried. What did I learn?\n\nPromoting teamwork experiences is far more effective than lecturing about them.\nLeaders should be creative in pursuit of changing culture, even if the techniques they create aren\u2019t taught in business schools.\nWe business IT professionals should stand in awe of what our gaming brethren have accomplished in the way of useful immersive realism.\nA spirit of innovation can turn even a video game into a powerful tool for change.