Business Simulation: Value, Design Risk and Waste

The core focus of my business simulations and my value statement is concerned with Effective, Efficient and Consistent Learning.

About

Purpose

Process

Quality

Construction

Site Map

Learning

Use

Journey

Support

Usability

Method

Verification

Platform

Composition

Effective Learning

I build business simulations that do not just build academic knowledge. Rather my designs focus on meeting the needs of experienced adult learners. A focus that takes into account a range of learning needs, the manner of use and the target user.

Another aspect of effective learning is that I believe that simulations should be tutored by experienced business who can bring to the activity their deep knowledge of your business and it's issues.

For instance a business simulation designed to be used throughout a strategic management course for senior management will be different from one for junior managers. A business simulation designed to replicate the issues of a manufacturing business is unlikely to address the needs of a group of retailers.

As a result, it is not surprising, over the years I have developed and modified nearly seventy simulations to ensure they meet client needs exactly. Further, my current design architecture ensures both rapid design, an ability to customise easily and are available in several versions.

Efficient Learning

Business time is valuable as is illustrated by the modal lengths of courses around the world (one week and two to three days). So, I specialise in short durations (from two hours to just over two days). Shortening a business simulation can compromise effectiveness and consistency, so I do this by carefully focusing the business simulation on specific business training development needs and only include decisions and results that are relevant to the learners and the learning.

Besides short durations, efficiency is affected by acquisition and running costs. Acquisition costs are low because most of my simulations were sponsored by clients. Even if your requirements are such that a simulation has to be especially developed or modified, this cost is low because not only are am I well down the experience curve but my award winning design architecture and platform reduces development time by eighty to ninety percent.

A second element of acquisition cost is whether you need expert help to run the simulation or whether it will take a long time for you to become familiar with the simulation. Again I have researched [1 & 2] and addressed this problem. My simulations lasting a day or less can be run by you. Even so, most of my business simulations have a Tutor Support System with a comprehensive hypertext help and advice system, a special tutor's audit and reports that comment on team's strengths and weaknesses.

Consistent Learning

An important difference exists between academic education and business training [3]. A difference that can be summarised by the word consistency. For business training, all learners must gain from the experience and perceive that they have gained. In contrast, in academic education the emphasis on judging learning through examination and differentiation - differentiation between distinction, pass and fail.

A second difference is that, in academe, if the student fails it is his or her fault. In business training, if the learner fails it is the trainer's fault! So, the business simulation must deliver learning consistently.

I ensure this in several ways. All simulations are extensively tested both with dummy data and with real clients (about half of my development time is this testing and calibration process). My business simulations incorporate a tutoring support system that provides information to enable the trainer to manage the learning process.

Design Risk

Here I explore the risks associated with business simulation design and provide links that suggest ways that these risks can be mitigated and minimised

The risks associated with business simulation design

Content Risk
This is the risk is that the design is not focused on defined learning needs. Rather things that have been built into the simulation because they are cool or neat!

Learn more about learning purpose

Development Risk
This is the risk with having no or an unsuitable design methodology that will constrain creativity, lack rigor and mean that the development does not deliver the required learning and is not delivered to cost and time.

Learn more about simulation design methodology

Software Risk
The design of a business simulation is especially challenging because it is a creative process where the software will be used by a wide spectrum of users usually with little or no experience of the simulation software. Further simulation models are complex and large leading to the need to use a suitable modeling language and have first-rate quality management during design

Learn more about quality assurance

Further, ideally the simulation should use a suitable platform that has a suitable architectural structure and functionality.

Learn more about simulation platform needs

Structural Risk
Here the meta-compositional structural design of the simulation independent of the business replicated does not properly take into account cognitive processing needs and cognitive load or has not been considered during design.

Learn more about meta-composition

Process Risk
This is the risk associated with the use of the simulation by participants and a tutor.

Residual Risk
Even if all the other risk areas are properly covered, the artistic, creative design nature of business simulation design at the structural meta-composition of the business simulation is vital. An analysis of three recent designs suggested that meta-composition can reduce duration by 30% to more than 80% without impacting learning.

Waste

Having worked in manufacturing, I am concerned with eliminating waste - things that damage learning and lengthen the simulation Here I explore areas of waste, suggest ways to eliminate the waste and provide links that explore actions that will minimise waste.

Content Waste
This is the waste associated with including content that is not focused on defined learning needs. Content that extends the simulation duration and diminish learning,

Processing Waste
This is the waste associated with overly complex software - software that does not have a clear structure and requires participants or the tutor to perform unnecessary tasks.

Learn more about simulator usability

Structural Waste
This is the waste associated with having no or inappropriate meta-compositional structures. An analysis of three recent designs suggested that meta-composition can reduce duration by 30% to more than 80% without impacting learning.

Learn more about meta-composition

Duration Waste
This is the waste caused by having an inappropriately short duration for the business simulation where this causes cognitive overload and diminishes or prevents learning.

Facilitation Waste
This is the waste caused prevents or impairs the ability of the tutor to answer participant questions quickly and authoritatively.

Learning Process Waste
This is the waste associated with the tutor's management of learning
where it is difficult or impossible for the tutor to identify learning problems and opportunities and provide suitable coaching and challenges.

References
[1] Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (1994a) Computerised Tutor Support Systems: the tutor's role, needs and tasks, The Simulation & Gaming Yearbook Volume 2 eds. Roger Armstrong, Fred Percival and Danny Saunders Kogan Page London.

[2] Hall, Jeremy J. S. B (1994b) Computerised Tutor Support Systems Developments in Business Simulations and Experiential Exercises Volume 21 eds. Precha Thavikulwat & John D. Overby, College of Business Administration, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma

[3] Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (1995) Chalk and Cheese?: Executive short-course vs. academic simulations The Simulation & Gaming Yearbook Volume 3 ed Danny Saunders, Kogan Page, London,

2015 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 02/11/12
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982 E-mail
jeremyhall@simulations.co.uk