Simulation / Simulations Exercise

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Simulations are among the best ways possible to have people understand a new idea, process, way of working, or set of tools. People learn by doing; it’s hands-on and experiential. Simulations can also teach complex principles that are hard to grasp otherwise, providing participants with a “feel” for systems dynamics or team-based service groups, for example. A simulation may be limited, for example, to a demonstration of a new or yet-to-be developed software package; or extensive, as in the case of strategy- testing “war games” or simulations of a team work environment and their challenges over several hours. Simulations often take a substantial amount of preparation time, yet may be well worth it.

To provide hands-on experience with something new or foreign. To demonstrate an idea, rather than talk about it. To clarify the “picture” people have of how a new idea, tool, or process would work.

Strengths — It’s experiential, thus can “make it real” in a way words cannot. Done right, can be very convincing. Weaknesses — Often requires substantial work to set up: though highly variable, a person-month or two (or three) is not uncommon. Specifications for Success —
1. Look at all the elements you can control to make the simulation more “real” – environment, lighting, props, sounds, types of challenges, communications modes, et cetera. However, realize that you don’t have to build a movie set to make it work.
2. Develop a surplus of options and “content” for your simulation. Be sure if one part doesn’t work as planned, you continue to have good material to employ.
3. If possible, do a “dry run” of the simulation prior to it’s use, to test it and familiarize staff with their roles.
4. Design enough time for participants to debrief; they may not realize what they learned right away unless given time to assess.


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