Listening from the Inside

What was a novel idea just a few short years ago has become one of the most popular services Blueline Simulations offers. It’s called the Voice of the Business – a five-step needs assessment that secures buy-in and commitment by mining insights from inside your business.

Yes, you read that right: from inside your business. In other words, from the hearts and minds of your most valuable asset: your employees. After all, who better to dish on the rights and the wrongs, the opportunities and the obstacles, the issues and the innuendos than those who experience the inner workings of your organization each and every day. Their viewpoint from the inside looking out is priceless – and free for the asking!

What is your organization’s greatest challenge?
Our client engagements always begin with a clearly identified business need. Do you need to:

Whether one of the needs listed above hits the nail on the head or you have a completely different issue in mind, Blueline’s Voice of the Business needs assessment can unlock and harness insights from inside your business in ways you never thought possible – putting you on the fast track to addressing that need. And although those insights are sometimes surprising and even unsettling at the outset, we’re committed to working with you to make them both empowering and transforming for the long haul.

In next week’s blog, I’ll outline the five-step process we use to ensure our Voice of the Business needs assessment leads to the transformative change your organization is looking for.

In the meantime, 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.

Full Immersion: Learning That Works

Our previous blog introduced Blueline Simulations’ full immersion approach to learning – where we take people out of the office and into the field to make real-life connections to big ideas that work.

We’ve taken a global biotech sales firm to Disney, Starbucks and an Apple store to explore engaging customer experiences. The client described the insights gleaned as “revolutionary.”office-walls

And we built an Innovation Tour of San Francisco for a global manufacturing firm, where executives were immersed in the world of Silicon Valley at places such as Google, Frog Design, Oracle and even the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The organization’s CEO called it “one of the most meaningful, valuable learning experiences of my career.”

Jarring? Yes. Insightful? Even more so. And there are four keys to making such experiences work:

  • Define the target. Don’t start with, “Let’s go to the Magic Kingdom!” Instead, define the pressing business challenge, and then identify organizations that have something valuable to bring to that conversation.
  • Get lateral. Theorist Edward de Bono describes lateral leaps as a key capability for breakthrough thinking. Lateral thoughts happen when we connect one idea to another seemingly unrelated one. In building immersive experiences, we identify organizations that are very similar to our clients and others that are dissimilar to create a productively disorienting lateral leap. That’s how a group of manufacturers found themselves exploring abstract paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Art and how pharmaceutical executives found themselves in line at an Apple Genius Bar to engage customer service around issues with their iPods.
  • Play it cool. Because the mind is most engaged when at play, we’re purposeful about building a “cool” factor into our immersive learning experiences. Wouldn’t you love to visit Google or hang out at Disney’s Epcot for a day in the name of learning? Of course you would, and so would your employees.
  • Connect it back. Critical conversations must happen for the immersive experience to produce organizational change. So what, exactly, did that afternoon at Starbucks say to you? What did you notice, see, hear, smell, experience… and what principles behind those experiences can deliver value at our (very different) organization? These facilitated conversations are the genesis of true organizational transformation.

Ready to step out of the office and change the way you and your employees view your world? Contact the learning experts at Blueline Simulations. We’ll build a transformative, immersive learning experience that delivers on your unique learning objectives – making real-life connections to big ideas that work.

I also invite you to contact us to learn more 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.

Are you wasting your learner’s precious time?

For mostBL-time-money training functions, creating sustainable impact within your organization is mission critical. If you are not going to generate lasting results then why bother?

Time and time again our experience with client simulations has proven that the more immersive the learning experience, the greater the sustainable impact. Here are just three of the many reasons why immersive learning experiences like simulation are so effective. They:

  1. Connect in powerful ways with every member of today’s multi-generational workforce. For instance, the newest generation of learners brings with it a new set of expectations and access. For them, video games and social networking sites have created demand for learning that is immediately relevant, contextual, immersive and responsive to input from the learner.
  2. Reduce time away from work. Not only do organizations want to reduce time away from work, so do employees. In today’s workplace the work that isn’t done during office hours is done during off hours. So employees are more receptive to focused training delivered over shorter periods.
  3. Make the employee do the work. Studies show that people learn better by doing. Simulations immediately place the learner at the center of the action.

Want to learn more about simulations and other immersive training technologies? Explore the myriad of off-the-shelf products and custom techniques Blueline employs to immerse and engage your learners.

Simulation Develops Results Focused Leaders at Fortune 300 Company (Part 1)

In my previous life as the head of Alltel University, and owner of its leadership development programs, I went in search of a capstone training event for the program we designed for 300 Directors and Vice Presidents across the organization. Having provided 360 assessments, external coaching, and internal workshops to this group on its Core Leadership Values, I wanted an immersive experience that would build strategic thinking skills and adaptable decision-making in a competitive and dynamic environment that would test participants behaviors against the Values, as much as their Executive acumen.

Extensive research went in to understanding the current market offerings in the simulation field, as I felt this would give us our best chance to provide a memorable, yet practical experience for our attendees. Participants in the program represented various organizational functions including customer service, sales, legal, marketing, engineering, products and finance.

My challenge was that there were dozens of providers to sort through! All touted their simulation solution as the “most advanced, “ “easiest to deploy,”  “best immersion,” and so on. I simply did not have the time or experience to be able to sort out the best from among these providers.

Then, through a combination of circumstance, timing and a little luck in the evaluation process, I came across Blueline Simulations. What was intriguing about them is they had already done all of this research to identify the simulations and providers with the highest customer satisfaction. On top of this work, Blueline offered program and project management resources, so by working with Blueline, we could do everything from negotiating terms to planning our implementation to conducting the simulation itself.

While there were several companies that made the final cut of proposals, it was clear that for our needs, Blueline Simulations was the best choice for this initial opportunity, and had the capability and capacity to grow with us. Together with Dan Gregory at Blueline Simulations, we selected Executive Challenge™, a competitive, multiplayer simulation that puts participants on the leadership team of a virtual company.

In my next posting I will share the nature of the program, how we customized it for Alltel’s needs, and what the outcomes were in delivering the simulation. Stay tuned!