How games and simulations help leaders learn
Simulations engage and challenge leaders both during the experience, placing them in a dynamic context that challenges their thinking, and after the experience, as they incorporate lessons learned in a real-world context.
Leaders across organizations tend to be subject matter experts – they are good at what they do and have turned expertise into muscle memory. But for any leader being good at their job is only half the battle. To position themselves for advancement and to help their organizations, leaders need to engage in lifelong learning.
In my experience in working with leaders across a variety of organizations in executive education, a key goal of any program was to expand the participant's capacity for strategic thinking. In the past, executive education programs were created to train participants in core business competencies. More recently, however, the focus has shifted to include a variety of learning outcomes: communication, leadership, strategic thinking, and collaboration.
When executives learn through simulations they learn through both familiar and unfamiliar environments: in the game, they might play the part of a CEO of a start-up or be part of a mission to Saturn. Our simulations push leaders out of their comfort zone as they adapt to ambiguous situations, make dynamic decisions based on evolving situations and communicate with new stakeholders and team members.
As they play, they ask themselves:
How can I contribute to my team?
How do I communicate effectively and convince others of my plan when I don’t have formal authority?
How can I lead a team when I don’t have access to all the information?
Simulated experiences surface these skills and push leaders to examine what they know and what they need to work on, creating opportunities for growth. Our games and simulations provide an experiential learning opportunity, one that can be unsettling, but is ultimately memorable and meaningful. We believe that learning is a journey, that we all have something to learn, and that our learning experiences can significantly impact a leader’s outlook and actions.