Simulation is one of the most powerful pedagogical methods used to train and develop the skill proficiency of an individual, group or organisation. The technique has long been in use by the military for wartime preparation and crisis situations; but we have adapted it for civilian use. Thus making it an exemplary method for Executive education and to train work groups. In simulated decision-making situations, the participants must solve “day-to-day” problems, as they would face them in reality.
The participants’ experiences greatly influence their perspectives and give a deeper understanding as to what the demands posed by a rapidly changing ‘’environment’’ can require of them. With the simulation, the participant’s theoretical knowledge, problem-solving ability and cooperative skills are trained. In addition, they learn from their mistakes thus strengthening the impact of the learning experience.
Depending on the kind of challenges facing the organisation, we identify together with the client which process will be simulated. Together, we analyse the characteristics of the process, the critical situations and the strategic options that will be emphasised. On this basis, we construct a simulation model that departs from its “real-life” scenario.
The simulation begins with a scenario that introduces the participants to the simulation process with “day-to-day” critical problem-solving situations that they may encounter in their realistic situations. By letting the participants ‘’live’’ with their decisions through different stages of the process, the simulation becomes dynamic and can bring about varying results. Depending on the background experiences and the personalities of the participants, they can “play” different roles in each stage and they should execute all instructions and tasks to be solved in either a group or individually. Special emphasis is placed on conflicting goals and ethical dilemmas.
Chance is not the decisive factor in the results. Since a process simulation consists of a controlled chain of reality-based learning situations and is not a game based on chance, the results are traced back to the preceding decisions and actions made by the participants under the simulation. Thus providing the evidence to be evaluated.
The learning process is reinforced through feedback discussions in which all actions and decisions made by the participants are analysed in depth such that the participants can draw their own conclusions. Feedback and evaluating the input during the simulation can often give the “aha, I see” experience and increased self-awareness. One gains a deeper insight into the specific details in a series of events, including the reactions and reflections of others in one’s environment. The “spin-off- effect” is one of strengthened cooperation within the group.
In simulation models and the programs we develop, we want to ensure that they live up to the following pedagogical standards in order to attain its full pedagogical value.
• The participants shall be informed well in advance as to what will be expected of them so that they are well-prepared when the simulations starts.
• Participants will not have the possibility to distance themselves from the simulated course of events, so as to prevent them from drawing the conclusions necessary for learning. This particular problem is avoided by choosing a relevant series of events, and its overall realism.
• The simulation is realistic in such a way that the course of events will include details such as documentation, specific concepts and situations.
• The realism increases and the simulation becomes a more dynamic and engaging learning process for the participants when the participant has to learn to “live with” their final decision throughout the simulated process.
• The simulation must be of particular relevance to the participants. Their need for training is reflected in the strategic dilemmas they confront in simulation, thus giving insight into where there will be need for improvement.
• The exercises given to participants to solve, must be possible to solve with their own knowledge although with background assistance from the simulation leader.
• We must have the opportunity before each course begins to judge each participant’s ability and personal qualifications or prerequisites in order to handle different roles and assignments in the simulation.
• The simulation is not to be treated nor understood at any time, to be a game and to not be taken seriously.
• In a simulation, the development of the course of events will be traceable to the actions and decisions of the participants.
• The program will take place so long as the participant has an opportunity to mentally prepare for the simulated reality and until a sufficient number of steps in the simulated process have “played out”. The experience must take place for no less than 12 hours and preferably over 18 hours.
• A simulation program to be carried out several times should be tested as a prototype before its final use.