Classroom Simulations

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.

A Lesson in Learning from Experience

Few of us have been spared the monotonous training program replete with what seems like a million text-dense PowerPoint slides and a talking head in front of the room “teaching” us. I don’t know about you, but I can’t say I ever learned much – if anything – from that type of training.bl-may2016

As noted training expert Bob Pike so deftly put it: “If telling was teaching, we’d all be geniuses by now.”

The good news is that training departments across the country have taken note and are taking the turn to experiential, immersive training – where learners are active participants in the training and come away with solid skills and strategies they’re eager to take back to the office and apply right away.

In other words, they’re creating and delivering the kind of learning that works.

Content revamped

At Blueline Simulations, we don’t believe you should have to start at square one when going from “instructor led” to “experiential and immersive.” After all, the heart of the issue is seldom the training program content; rather, it’s how the content is delivered.

Through simulation, narrative, game mechanics and more, we transform existing content from our client partners into rich experiential learning events informed by the latest research on adult learning theory – both in the classroom and virtually.

We also have been known to take it up a notch or two for a fully immersive approach where learners step away from the office and into a broader world dense with learning opportunities.

How does a trip to Disney World, Starbucks or an Apple store sound? We’re talking about whole-body, fully kinesthetic learning in which learners are plunged into worlds dissimilar from their own… all for the purpose of unearthing big ideas that can transform their own businesses. The insights clients have gleaned from these experiences have been described as “revolutionary.”

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at these “full immersion” learning events and draw out some principles that will enable you to begin considering your own.

In the meantime, I 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.

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.

Learning Business Literacy… and Eating Your Vegetables

Watch the faces of your employees next time you tell them they need to learn business literacy.

I bet they look a lot like my ten-year-old when I tell him he has to eat his vegetables.

“Financial acumen training” doesn’t get much love from the folks in organizations who would benefit from it the most. They imagine themselves adrift in a sea of numbers, ratios, and acronyms. (“EBITDA?” Really?)

At Blueline Simulations, we’re on a mission to get your people excited about business acumen. 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 enterprise?

It turns out that “excitement” and “fun” are not such difficult goals in business literacy training. The trick – and yes, we are about to share some of our “secret sauce” with you – 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 is an event, a decision, a problem, and a human drama that played out in the halls of your organization. Tell the story well, and that squiggly, upwards-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 out into the deep waters of financial acumen.
  •  Making it fun.  With a little melted cheddar, my ten-year-old will eat his broccoli and ask for more. Business literacy training is a lot more palatable when flavored with high-engagement learning techniques – such as “gaming” principles, compelling story lines, and lots of opportunities to engage with their colleagues.

Adult learning theory says that retention increases when learners are able to make immediate applications of the concepts to the challenges and pressures that they are facing right now.

Give us a call at Blueline Simulations, and we’ll tell you more about how we can increase the relevance, urgency, and fun of your business literacy training. And if you ask, we’ll even tell you our secret broccoli casserole recipe.