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Category: Change

Why does simulation bring change?

Simulation helps people to understand the consequences of choices.

Simulation for training

To use simulation requires a different approach to training. It requires more effort in the planning and learning design stage, requires more preparation for delivery, and opens up more possibilities for how a training interaction will unfold. Simulation brings a degree of uncertainty to training, as it readily accommodates different learning styles and stages of skill development. Simulation is learner centered, unlike lecture-style training which is trainer centered. It therefore requires the trainer to be more confident in their knowledge and assessment skills, as they will be led on a “journey of discovery” by the learner as the simulation stimulates memories, knowledge and ‘ah-ha’ moments. On the other hand, simulation training offers the ultimate reward for trainers, for the typical training ideals of engagement, knowledge sharing, proficiency and learning validation are “obvious”.

Simulation for decision making

Simulation forces us to think in terms of variables that affect outcomes and be open-minded about the results. It means we need to incorporate possibilities we hadn’t considered. It forces us to collaborate. It forces us to make decisions…how much…how many…how often?

Why might people find simulation threatening?

Simulation is confronting. It holds a mirror up to us and shows our flaws: it creates dissonance.

Simulation is often introduced into businesses to bring consistency, access and efficiency. It upsets the “status quo” of systems that have perhaps been embedded in a culture for decades or even centuries. It equalizes, and differentiates. It uncovers and replaces mythologies, disproves theories and redefines eminence. It revolutionizes. It highlights behaviours and forces acknowledgement. It measures results.

(These are the reasons simulation is a compelling training tool. )

Why are simulation programs so hard to implement?

Simulation is a network or complex entity, unlike a book or whiteboard. It employs narrative, requires data, pushes people out of their comfort zone and if technology is involved, there are software, hardware, electrical, hydraulic systems, projectors, screens and internet connections to consider. The acquisition, deployment and maintenance of simulations often extend beyond the control of the person desiring to use it.

If it’s sold as an integrated solution, it is now the subject of shared decision making.

Simulation targets behaviours, which

  • are the results of systems and symbols in a business. It touches policies, processes and procedures, through its establishment and its effects. Its reach extends far beyond its immediate use and creates a ripple effect of change. A ripple effect of dissonance. A ripple effect of opportunity. A swathe of overwhelming possibilities. Cans of worms.
  • means its use is likely to be scrutinized by industrial umpires to ensure the fair treatment of all.

Simulation requires skills that may not exist within the business. Skills for acquiring, skills for deploying and skills for maintaining. A ripple effect.

Simulation must fit into existing resources that were not originally designed to accommodate simulation. Learning materials, IT infrastructure, training rooms, budgets. A ripple effect.

Does your Change Manager need an “access all areas” pass?

Author Susan Scott used a tree metaphor to describe a process for delegating decision making in her book Fierce Conversations (2004). Scott suggests that like trees where changes at the leaf, tree, trunk or root level have a greater or lessor impact on the health of the tree, business decision-makers need to understand the affects of certain types of decisions on the wellbeing of the organisation. Scott’s ‘Decision Tree’ is a great model for thinking about how disruptive the change will be and what authority your change champion needs.

The least intrusive changes are initiatives involving leaf decisions. These are decisions with low impact, and that only affect the person who made the decision. In most organisations, people are generally expected to make leaf decisions and act on them without needing to tell anyone about it. Typical leaf-level changes might include creating a new folder structure in your personal filing cabinet or computer.

A communication strategy really smooths the process for changes involving branch decisions. These are decisions that have some impact on other people and the change needs to be communicated. Generally people making branch decisions need specific authority to make the decision. The authority might be documented in your role statement or might be expressly given as a direction from your manager. Regular reporting of actions from branch decisions is needed so the impact of the decision can be monitored. Examples of branch decisions might include changing the location of files (hard copy or electronic), changing preferred suppliers for low-risk items.

When change is impacting an organisation at the level of trunk decisions, it’s a good idea to really plan how the change will be managed, possibly even recruit a change manager. Trunk decisions often affect both internal and external stakeholders, and have the potential to cause damage to the organisation and as such it is important that they reviewed before being acted on. People making these types of decisions should report the decision to a higher authority in the organisation for approval. Trunk decisions will often impact more than one team, and include things like new/upgraded tools (software programs, equipment), changes to standard operating procedures, minor changes to product/service offerings.

Root decisions could devastate the organisation and should be made with contributions from many people. Decisions of this nature will likely impact the whole organisation and significant investment will be made in communicating and managing the decision and its execution. Root decisions include things like new industrial agreements, organisational restructures, changing legal entity status (eg membership organisation to non-profit company limited by guarantee), high-value/high-risk investments, major changes to product/service offerings (changing the technical core).