David Milliken

eSimulations: Are You Up to the Challenge?

In my last blog, I outlined the merits of eSimulations and explored some compelling reasons why recent advances have made them more effective than live role-play. In short, today’s eSimulations:

  • Can now contain hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of video-based nodes, meaning they can accurately reflect small changes in tone and language.
  • Deliver a consistent experience for every user, eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role-player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias.
  • Provide significantly more practice opportunities than classroom-based live-role play.

So yes, it’s a great time to consider (or reconsider) bringing eSimulations into your training and development curriculum. Blueline Simulations would be proud to partner with you to find the perfect fit for your organization.

Look before you leap

What if this all sounds good, but your organization isn’t quite ready to make the leap all the way into “intelligent” eSimulations? That’s where Management Challenge™ comes in.

Management Challenge™ offers many of the same benefits in a hybrid solution that utilizes technology to enhance the live role-player experience. It delivers a role-play with the consistency of experience of a well-designed eSimulation that’s responsive to managers in the age of social media and engagement… yet doesn’t sacrifice the individualized feedback and coaching of a live classroom.mgmt-challenge-questions

Working in table teams, learners are quickly drawn into a computer-based simulation in which they must run a fictional organization for three consecutive quarters. They compete to deliver the highest return on human resources by identifying, motivating, coaching and developing talent.

Along the way, they face realistic challenges such as:

  • How do I allocate my resources most effectively across multiple projects?
  • How do I increase employee engagement?
  • How do I handle conflict among coworkers?
  • How do I develop my people – both through assignments and through coaching?

Management Challenge™ delivers a vivid learning experience that parallels the real experiences faced by every manager you know.

I invite you to contact us to learn about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

eSimulations: Has Live Role-Play Met Its Match?

It’s a common belief that, for all of their plusses, the big minus with eSimulations is their inability to discern nonverbal communication. And with research showing the significant role tone of voice and body language play in human communication, that’s a very big minus.esims-more-effective

Recent advances, however, have changed that. In fact, for many applications, today’s eSimulations are more effective than live role-play on every level. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Level 4 eSimulations (using a rules-based gaming engine) are extremely realistic. Now that developers can create hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of video-based nodes, eSimulations can accurately reflect small changes in tone and body language. Throw in the use of voice recognition, and you have an unparalleled user experience!
  • eSimulations deliver a consistent experience for every user. Notice that I didn’t say the same That wouldn’t be accurate because, in theory, depending on the number of nodes, hundreds could face the same choices and have the same opportunities, but because of the decisions they make, have a completely unique experience. eSimulations eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role-player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias as well.
  • eSimulations can provide significantly more practice opportunities than classroom-based live-role play. For each live role-play, you need to engage two people and optimally three, who often then rotate roles. In the same or less time, all three people could accomplish three rounds of practice each, and probably more, through eSimulation.

That said, eSimulations still aren’t for everyone – primarily because of price. While development costs have dropped dramatically as developers have improved processes and tools, the relative value of this technology is still dictated by the volume of users who can benefit. While some off-the-shelf solutions can serve small numbers of users cost effectively, custom applications typically need an audience of 100 or more users to be cost effective.

I invite you to contact us to learn about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Building Your Business – Even If You Don’t Own One

“I don’t own a business, so why should I be concerned about building one?”

Sounds logical, right? However, everyone who works for a company is in fact building his or her own business. It may be tasks, projects or leadership within your department, region or district. You may not own the business, but you own a piece of that business with your personal performance and contribution.

Solid business acumen broadens your awareness of business changes in your industry, in your customers and among your competitors. It gives you the edge to make decisions quickly and with confidence.

What are the elements of building a thriving business? First and foremost, you have to have a vision. The vision could be an excellent product or service. At certain executive levels, that vision drives a strategy for either developing or improving a product or service. But don’t count yourself out. You are an important element of that business decision – if you have the knowledge and mindset of the owner.

Unless you’re a business owner, you might not think of how to finance the product or service. In reality, business owner or not, finance is a critical step. Ask yourself these questions: Can we afford to produce the product or service we’re considering? Do we have the cash flow? At what point can we break even with our product or service? What are our fixed and variable costs? Are there capital expenses? Do we need a line of credit? Do we need investors? What are the financial risks? You see, great ideas are just that – great ideas – when you haven’t considered how to pay for them.

Think about a time when you had a great idea but didn’t have the funding and research needed to bring it from bench to market. But what if you did have the financial and/or business acumen to give you the answers to just some of the questions above? Once again, you may not own your business, but your thoughts, preparation and execution in your work area have a direct effect on your company’s outcomes.

In today’s business world, the people making ultimate decisions need data and facts. They prefer to see a business plan or business strategy that helps them make a decision. If you can paint a picture of what the final business outcome can provide, your chances of success are greater. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), solid business acumen broadens your awareness of business changes in your industry, in your customers and among your competitors. It gives you the edge to make decisions quickly and with confidence.

The business acumen courses at Blueline Simulations can provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to collect and process data, formulate a data-driven strategy to build your business case and effectively deliver your plan. The items covered above will become clear, and your ability to run your area just like a business will support your continued success.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our business acumen options, custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

By the Numbers: Showing some love for business literacy

Watch the faces of your employees the next time you tell them they need to learn business literacy. You’ll likely see blank stares as they imagine themselves adrift in a sea of numbers, ratios and acronyms.

Financial acumen training” doesn’t get much love from the folks in organizations who would benefit from it most. But we’re on a mission to change that. After all, what’s more energizing than recognizing that the work you do at your desk has an immediate impact on the financial health of the entire organization?bl-financial-acumen-training

It turns out that “excitement” and “fun” are not such difficult goals in business literacy training. The trick is to make it real and relevant. We do this by:

  • Focusing on the story, not the numbers. See all of those numbers on the balance sheet? Every one of them is a story. Behind each one is an event, a decision, a problem and/or a human drama that played out in the halls of your organization. Tell the story well, and that squiggly upward-trending line on the graph is suddenly imbued with urgency.
  • Changing the point of view. A lot of business literacy training is written from the high-level perspective of an accounting professor. But the employees’ line of sight (and influence) begins at his or her own desk. Make the connection between the job and the financials first. Once you’ve established that critical context, you can lead the learner surprisingly far into the deep waters of financial acumen.
  • Making it fun. Business literacy training is a lot more palatable when flavored with high-engagement learning techniques such as “gaming” principles, compelling story lines and plenty of opportunities to engage with colleagues.

Adult learning theory says that retention increases when learners are able to make immediate application of the concepts to the challenges and pressures they’re facing right now. Blueline Simulations’ business acumen training does just that.

Contact us today to discuss more about how we can increase the relevance, urgency and fun of your business acumen training.

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