Business simulations provide a powerful means of testing business acumen, identifying development needs and promotion potential and so are powerful assessment tools. Here I explore the reasons for use, practicalities of use and suggest some suitable business simulations.
Here I am discussing Assessment/Development where the group of assesses is divided into teams of (typically) 4 who are then observed running a simulated business by senior managers. Going back to the 1970's I have provided business simulations for use on Assessment/Development Centres and because of this I have developed special versions of several of my business simulations. Versions that provide separate, pre-digested reports for the assessors.
Reasons for Use
Practical Issues with use
Suitable Business Simulations
Business Simulations will not test all competencies and other instruments will be needed but they do test a majority of competencies such as:
Learn more about Managerial Competency Models
ARE HIGHLY INVOLVING
Participants become very involved with the simulation. This means they are likely to behave in a natural manner and be less aware of the assessment process. I remember well one client who tried to get a group to break for coffee. One of the assessees responded "Coffee Breaks are for WIMPS".
Involvement and the adrenaline of competition means that the simulation can and have been observed reducing the pressure associated with a development centre.
Finally, there is the opportunity to debrief the simulation and provide training input.
Development centres are expensive. Simulations can take considerable time and these conflict. However, it is possible to accelerate a simulation and position it on the development centre so that it is economically viable. If the group is briefed, prepare and make their first decision after dinner, the rest of the simulation can be run the following morning with a short debriefing at or immediately after lunch.
MANNING THE ACTIVITY
Besides the assessors, the team running the simulation should consist of two - One experienced with the simulation and its practical use. The other for clerical support, collecting decisions and delivering results to teams and the assessors. The experience with using the simulation is important because delays cannot be allowed to waste time and because of the image presented to the assessees.
SUPPORTING THE ASSESSOR
The assessors should be provided with copies of the reports received by the teams as well as further information highlighting the issues that teams should be considering (strengths, weaknesses etc.). Thus the assessors have pre-digested information that identifies problems and allows them to concentrate on observing how the assessees deal with the problem.
Our Assessment Versions of the Challenge Series provide such reports.
DEVELOPMENT CENTRE FACILITIES
The team rooms must be close together and to the simulation control room. Equipment in the control room should not only consist of the microcomputer and printer but also, if possible, include a photocopier. Also, if the printer allows it, three-part paper should be used to print results.
A short review at the end of the simulation provides an additional learning dimension to the activity. This is generally perceived by the executives being assessed as a major benefit.
Source: Churchill Fellowship Study and chapter in my latest book - Corporate Cartooning Book (find out more).
Most recent update: 04/04/12
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