Prior Learning comes in differen shapes.

Business Simulation Participants

This page is explores what you should do to match a simulation to the prior learning, knowledge and experience of the learners.











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Business Simulations rely on a foundation of prior learning, knowledge and experience and so it is necessary to take this into account when choosing the right business simulation. Additionally, there are the questions of maturity, culture and learning style. Although this may seem obvious, on occasion, I have found that course directors have overstated the knowledge of their students and, as a result,the amount of remedial teaching and support has been excessive. And, even then, the learning was severely restricted.

By defining the learning objectives addressed by our simulations and, where appropriate, the target audience we ensure that the business simulation is suitably matched to your participants and the following notes detail some issues:

Target Audience Match
A business simulation suitable for middle to senior management is likely to be too complex for junior management and functional specialists. This is both because or the knowledge base addressed by the business simulation and because junior management will not have had the decision-making experience (and so are not able to handle uncertainty and ambiguity). Equally, a business simulation designed for use by junior managers and functional specialists will not be sufficiently challenging for senior managers.
Audience Mix
Where a simulation covers a wide range of knowledge it is not necessary for all the participants have the necessary knowledge provided the group as a whole covers the required knowledge base and the necessary knowledge can be spread in each team. If there is insufficient mix of knowledge and experience then additional information (such as definitions and explanations) should be provided (possibly as pre-reading). Also, the trainer should budget time for sessions building any basic knowledge.
Having run simulations with groups from around the world and with some courses having more than a dozen nationalities represented we have found that national culture is not an issue. However although nationalities is not an issue corporate and functional culture can be. Experience working over long periods of time with companies suggests that each company has its own culture. Also, running simulations where all participants are from a single functional area (such as finance, sales or engineering) suggest differences.
It can be wise to spread the genders across teams as single gender teams can be much too competitive. On one, memorable occasion with a group of fifteen learners I put the five ladies in one group and split the men between the other two groups. The activity started in the evening with the review in the morning. The female group decide that their purpose was to be best. Realising this, both the male teams felt threatened. The result was that all worked in to the early hours, exhausting themselves for the next day. So, based on my experience - spread the genders across the teams.
Typically, junior staff have difficulty handling ambiguity and uncertainty and so can be uncomfortable. Also, because the majority perhaps all their learning experience has been lecture based they can be uncomfortable with participant centred learning. Also, although middle and senior management can handle business simulations that address general issues, for specialists, graduate trainees and junior managers it is advisable to choose a simulation based on their industry. (But not a simulation that attempts to replicate, exactly, their business as this will be too complex.) As a result, we have a range of industry focused simulations in our Challenge Series that are ideal for junior staff.

Being prepared for these issues when choosing an appropriate business simulation means that the above issues should not cause any problem - if you are unsure please contact us to discuss your needs and draw on our experience.

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2004 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall
Most recent update: 11/11/10
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