Simulations for experiential learning, as a concept have made their way to the top of many L&D Heads' wish list and a few of them have even been able to seamlessly take it forward from there and execute it. But what happens to the rest?Our experience suggests major gaps in two areas: clarity on what business simulations are, and insight on what they could do for your business. This post addresses that gap.Lets get started by addressing some key misconceptions that surround business simulations.It is just another e-learning toolOnline learning and Simulations differ fundamentally in the the learning experiences they provide.
Let’s compare the two. Online learning( another version of traditional learning) starts off with providing the right information. So the learning happens before the learner implements it. As a next step, you are evaluated on how much you are able to reproduce or implement what is learnt; and then finally come- the results. Simulations on the other hand start off with putting to test what you already know or believe. The results which follow are basically indicative of the mistakes you made, devoid of learning. The learning distills out in the end- by when, you not only know the gaps, but also know how to bridge them. This practical and hands-on learning experience always has better retention.Its all about the software.
Software is definitely a core element, without which simulations won’t exist; but in totality they comprise many add-ons; each of which plays a major role in shaping the holistic participant experience. Some of these value-adds being ; the relevant content, a real time business environment complete with volatile market conditions and competition, and aspects of the delivery format such as sequence of learning, team dynamics and facilitation.Learning simulations make great assessment toolsNope, they need significant changes. They can be much more dynamic if they are leveraged to go beyond existing learning gaps and evaluate learning agility of the participants, which is not possible with traditional assessment. The reason being, the basic difference in the way each of them handles mistakes.
Traditionally, assessment modules expect you to be at your best and prepared enough- to avoid making mistakes. Simulations on the other hand are designed to encourage mistakes and as it progresses, what matters more is- how well the participant corrects his mistakes while taking his next set of decisions. For example, during our simulations, we take a cumulative score of participant scores from Quarter2 to Quarter8 to measure his actual learning curve.Simulations are not for senior leadersOn the contrary. Senior leaders who have walked the talk and seen business(es) grow or shrink would be able to appreciate a simulation better. In fact, they would be the ones who would love to test new strategies and ideas to a business they own, and in a risk free environment which the simulation provides. This, and give them a new industry or a new market, and they will be thrilled with the challenges it comes with.
Our experiences with senior leaders have been similar. In a sample size of 590 participants- where 28% were senior leaders, 9 out of 10 said they would gladly recommend simulations to their colleagues.The software has to be customized to meet our specific requirementsMost simulations have a common software platform, and it is possible that these cannot be altered at an individual level. But here’s the good news: there are many other levels of customization you could do, to meet your unique business learning needs.
At level one, you may be able to tailor the virtual business environment in the form of a relevant case scenario and keep external factors like the market conditions and competition as volatile and real time as they should be for that case. Similarly, you can moderate team dynamics involved.Next come the concepts and tools that need to be delivered - some simulations are flexible enough to accommodate multiple combinations per your specific needs.Finally, at level three, come the examples and illustrations. These are vital in helping your participants relate their learning back to your business - and most programs can be tailored to your industry, your participants' function, or even their current concerns.Any more pieces to add? Tell us how your experience with business simulations has been.