Course Starter/Ice Breaker
A business simulation is used at or close to the start of a course.
Here a short business simulation is used to setup and introduce the course.
Reasons for Use
Practical Issues with use
Suitable Business Simulations
BREAK DOWN INHIBITIONS
Most, successful, executive short courses are highly participative. This means that inhibitions must be broken down. The stimulating and active nature of simulations does this. Early use of a simulation accelerates breaking down inhibitions.
BUILD THE TEAM
Competitive team activities help build the course group. Members of individual teams relate to each other. Since, suitable simulations are simple and the activity takes place at the start of the simulation, the effect of "losing" is not major. If anything, it encourages greater effort in later sessions.
The highly participative and student centred nature of simulations helps raise expectations. This is particularly true for learners, whose previous learning experiences have been pedagogic at school or college. Simulations, by utilising and recognising participants' knowledge and experience, are particularly appropriate for the adult learner. Especially the executive who has industry experience and is in a responsible position. (Obviously, if the following sessions consist of lectures and are non-participative, the use of a simulation at the start of the course is counter productive.)
ASSESS PRIOR LEARNING
A particular need for executive courses is to match content against existing knowledge and experience. If course content is simplistic learners will regard it as a waste of time. Equally, if it is too advanced, then learners will be equally, vocally, dissatisfied. For example one user of my business simulations had to run an "Advanced Financial Awareness" course - think about it - some learners would have the requisite prior knowledge, other will have attended a basis financial awareness course a long, long time ago (and forgotten it all), with others thinking they know more than they do. As a consequence the user ran my Financial Analysis simulation at the start of his course. This enabled him to assess prior learning, provide remedial learning and know which learners he could use as a resource.
DECIDE LEARNING NEEDS
An early session, which challenges and assess learners' knowledge can help the tutor decide what needs to be learnt and what the learners want to learn and from this, proactively, change the course.
DIRECT USE OF SIMULATION
Since little time can be budgeted for this activity, suitable simulations involve participants entering their decisions directly into the simulation. This means that teams can enter decisions and receive results independent of the other groups with the model simulating direct competition.
Further information about Direct Use Simulations
Without experience working with participants and before it has been possible to assess fully their knowledge and experience it is not possible to build balanced teams. This rarely causes problems and division on a "random" basis is acceptable. However, it is sensible to split executives from the same company and provide an even mix of genders and functional expertise in each team.
Despite the model simulating competition teams will see themselves in competition. Where simulations are used in other ways it is generally to attempt to de-emphasise this. However, this is not necessary here. The "fun" and learning aspects of the session should be emphasised.
Instead of running the simulation with each team using a separate syndicate room it is attractive to run the simulation in one large room. This improves the tutor's ability to assess teams and individuals (having to move between syndicate rooms makes this difficult). If there are any problems with computer use this can be rectified quickly. Working one room allows comparative team results to be displayed on a central black board or flip chart, improving the process and learning. Finally, this form of working emphasises the integration of the group.
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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