Thursday, August 13, 2009

Training and Development - Conjured Learning

Simulations as more than learning tools

Key learnings:

  1. Gaming simulations have carved a niche in training
  2. But they also have the potential to move a little beyond that

Gaming will enable learning professionals to reinforce key learning ideas, deliver more attractive, engaging sessions and ensure higher retention levels is an irrefutable fact. Organisations are so satisfied with just this much that only few have exploited the true potential of gaming.

“Simulation games have more potential than what is currently being harnessed,” says an expert in gaming technology. The biggest discovery is using games to bolster business performance. In fact, once organisations understand the correlation between gaming and business performance, the final word in the learning world will be games!

Simulation games allow learning professionals to reproduce complex market, organisational and customer-service systems and conditions. As a result, learning interventions are better poised to support business performances. Read on to understand the link between simulation games as a learning tool and improved business performance.


The question, “Why simulations?” though answered a hundred times before, todayt in answering the same question, the objectives are to highlight:

  1. Using simulation games is relevant in present times
  2. How simulations boost business performance

The joys of simulation

Besides their high entertainment value, using simulation games can create knowledge. By modelling work-life conditions, they enable learners to understand:

  1. Complex market functioning
  2. Tactics that support improved business performance
  3. Competencies and skills needed to achieve high performance

In short, simulation games, when well leveraged, give organisations a unique business advantage. Detailing reasons why simulation games should become a hot favourite, especially when increasing business performance is the key learning objective.

Generational preference:

With gamers representing an increasing chunk of the employees, short, intermittent online learning exposures will leave learners dissatisfied and disillusioned Simulation games offer modern learners what they expect - a wholesome online learning experience.

Equally important is for organisations to understand the importance that modern generations place on technology. To them, technologically non-savvy organisations have no future. As the head of a telecommunications company reiterates, “With the younger generation in particular, it is important to attract such employees with the kinds of technology they have come to expect, including simulation games and Web 2.0 capabilities” .

As well as to helping organisations cater to the learning needs of newer work generations, simulation games help attract and keep the young crowd! But these benefits are just the beginning.

Built-in learning:

Simulation games place learners in practical performance management situations. Here, learners play a central role in managing and controlling and gain practice in making the right moves. Learners also enjoy the luxury of making errors without suffering its outcomes. With rapidly changing trends, having learners return to classrooms or online sessions often is not possible. With this limitation, simulations provide a great learning platform and what is best is that learners are not getting short-changed in the bargain. On the contrary, they benefit more from the experience of being-in-the- moment. “Compared with traditional classroom learning, simulations help learners master content and new behaviours forty – seventy percent faster,” says an expert. Speeding learners to new learning competencies translates into quicker business results.

The differentiator

There are market simulations that allow learners to perform ‘what if’ analyses. By modelling cause and effect associations that exist in a particular market environment, these simulations allow learners to get a first-hand feel of complex market functions and human interactions. Simulations also make learners better assessors of real-life situations. Known as the ‘déjà vu factor’, a learner who has experienced something in a simulated meeting will immediately link it to what he is going through in real-time.

Simulations can also help business plans and organisational structures to enable employees to understand the complex web of their operations and functioning. Organisations have used such simulations to identify actions and interactions that act as obstacles or hamper functioning. Simulations have also helped them test the solutions. In fact, an emerging practice is using simulations for corrective and preventive measures. Customising all these simulations to the‘t’ will have the desirable impact.

As mentioned above, simulations can help gain critical skills and competencies even when individuals have had no prior experience in it. A railway company employed a cost-centre simulation solution to help their employees, who were engineers with no exposure to finance, gain financial management skills. By engaging those in complex role-playing and allowing them to plan and perform operational activities, the engineers felt as comfortable as their finance counterparts by the end of their training.

The benefits of simulation continue to charm organisations. But thinking of them as learning tools alone will prevent organisations from using them as part of performance management. Given the increasing complexities of the business world, speeding employees’ knowledge and competency gaming is a definite way to ensure better and quicker business results.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

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