Simulation Based Managerial Training (SBMT)
A formal organization is sometimes defined as “a system of consciously coordinated activities or forces of two or more persons”. Pursuant to this admirably sparse definition, an organization necessarily consists of five interdependent features: Humans in numbers beyond the individual; their activities or forces; the coordination thereof; that such coordination be conscious rather than unconscious or accidental; and, finally, an overarching system to ensure the smooth functioning of all of these features. The elements of an organization are, therefore, (1) communication, (2) willingness to serve, and (3) common purpose. In any business, domain competency is absolutely non-negotiable, but what is no less critical is the requirement for managerial competencies among employees to be able to lead teams and deliver organizational goals.
Managerial Competency: The Third Element
wisdom says that success or failure is largely determined by individual skills and knowledge. But there is a third element of success that is seemingly intangible, and it includes aspects such as ethos, or the mindset, attitudes and beliefs that a manager brings to the job. For example, a highly skilled computer programmer, who refuses to interact with the development team on a major project, can turn out to be more of a liability than an asset, in spite of his technical skills. Managerial competencies are the skills, motives and attitudes necessary for a job, and include competencies such as communication skills, problem solving, customer focus and the ability to work within a team. Simulation Based Training (SBT) is an effective immersive learning that can inculcate managerial and even leadership skills, which is an imperative competency to be successful in the present-day business environment.
SBT – SETTING THE CONTEXT:
SBT has been extensively used in the aviation and aeronautical space industries, as well as in the military, chemical and nuclear power sectors, where its efficacy and safety have been demonstrated. In healthcare education, where learning experiences can be limited, and it is unethical to practice on patients, and/or where it could compromise patient safety, there is great potential for the application of SBT. It is often used to develop and assess technical and clinical skills for healthcare professionals.
SBT – The Way Forward:
Though simulation-based training intervention is very popular in the cognitive and psychomotor domains, it is picking up in the affective domain as well. However, the need and design is an utmost priority and needs to be established even before conceptualizing the trainings. There is a risk of misinterpreting it to mean only developing role plays/scenarios/case studies. In fact, the whole success of SBT for the managerial level is dependent on devising tools/techniques to actually stimulate the learning environment and meet the intended objectives. An emerging trend is “Immersion Learning,” which is interesting and can be adopted for the creation of real-time scenarios, but is dependent on IT platforms and, therefore, involves huge developmental and usage costs.
Understanding SBT Methodology:
Adult learners are often intrinsically, rather than externally, motivated; therefore, it is important that the learning outcome is practical, immediately usable, and relevant. It has been proposed that adults learn best when they participate, are engaged, and experience teaching in a cognitive and emotional way. Experiential learning is a process where experience is transformed into learning. This is reflected in a four-stage cycle of learning, as depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle Experiential learning is the real basis for designing simulation-based learning programs.
SBT – A REMOTE SOLUTION:
SBT can be delivered remotely by using virtual platforms and with the help of the new generation of immersive technologies, including interactive 360-degree video, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and, a little further down the line, haptics, which hold exciting possibilities for bringing deeper immersive learning into the workplace. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most talked about technologies.
a) VR (computer-generated recreation or 360-degree video of a real-life situation) builds an environment that simulates a real experience without the risk, difficulty and cost.
b) AR (computer-generated interactive enhancements layered on top of existing reality) is all about giving people information when they need it, so it actually avoids the need to memorize everything.
c) Emerging now is volumetric film. This relies on light-field captured footage that produces 3D images of the surroundings. What this means is that within a VR experience, the “flat” nature of the video will disappear, and you will be able to move around the actors within the space.
Team Building Simulation:
Team building simulation provides unique opportunities for teams to collaborate and quickly measure whether the groups are actually working as cohesive and productive teams. There are different ways of applying an SBT scenario for this:
a) Survival Simulation Series:
Survival Simulation Series exercises require team members to work together effectively to deal with life-threatening situations. These simulations can be used as icebreakers to establish constructive norms within a new work group, or to introduce members to the value of synergy, or to gauge their synergistic problem-solving skills.
b) Business Simulation Series:
These series are built to sharpen team business knowledge and practices while sharpening the ability for coordinated work. It focuses on skills and behaviors that teams need to demonstrate for a successful business.
c) Challenge Simulation Series:
Focuses on complex areas like critical thinking, ethical decision and strategic planning. Teams are made to confront unexpected challenges wherein good teams will demonstrate the skills to tackle such challenges.
d) Safety Simulation Series:
Built on a safety awareness and demonstration background, it engenders a sense of responsibility among members to drive workplace safety, as well as promote it at home, leading to team building and better communication.
A manager’s day is filled with complexities that require intellectual and emotional intelligence – behavioral simulations confront managers with such situations. Learners assume roles and sort through emails, memos and reports as they respond to strategic and tactical challenges, as well as cultural tensions. It is a realistic way to practice new thinking and to cultivate the right intellect and emotional quotient.
Strategy Labs are fast, affordable tools for testing strategies, exploring scenarios, and anticipating impact of change initiatives. Insights emerge faster when complex business systems can be boiled down to their essence, using well-chosen modeling tools. They typically use either System Dynamics or Process and Discreet Event simulations, depending on the situation.
Leadership Practice Fields:
Leadership Practice Fields are full-immersion business simulations. Teams working with managers pursue challenging objectives for a fictional organization modeled on tailored business, using computer simulation, realistic branded information (e-mails, memos, reports), and interpersonal activities. Just as in everyday life, both “hard” and “soft” skills impact one another and play into the development of strategic decisions, the simulator tracks each team’s pre-fixed performance metrics.
SBT - ADVANTAGES:
a) Real-Life Experiences:
With training simulations, participants gain first-hand knowledge of tools, programs, and devices. Simulations can also go beyond dummy tools or equipment and provide actual sample scenarios, situations, or examples that can be tested. Sometimes, simulation training does not involve new technology, but the advent of new protocols, procedures, or processes that participants must use when interacting with customers, clients, or each other.
b) Immediate Feedback:
With training simulations, participants can receive immediate feedback about their efficacy and use of the platform, equipment, or guidelines. Instructors can provide constructive criticism in the moment, allow employees to hone their mastery at the time, and retry new skills or approaches.
c) Knowledge Retention:
By physically deploying new skills or actions, participants are more likely to retain insights and learned knowledge. Not only will they retain the theory and broader concepts behind the new processes, they will also be able to apply those principles to practice, further enhancing knowledge retention.
d) Cooperation and Competition:
Learning new skills and talents with others can be beneficial in several respects. For one, participants can learn from each other through observation and collaboration. Cooperation can have long-lasting benefits, as people who are trained together reach out to offer tips or help each other master new work.
e) No risks:
Employees may hesitate when introduced to new software, tools, or procedures for fear of making mistakes. With simulation training, employees overcome such fears earlier and have less fears in the long term. By reducing these risks, employees gain confidence faster and can recall training, in order to learn from previous mistakes made in a no-risk training environment.
f) Quantifiable Training:
One key benefit of simulation training is that it can usually be measured. Tracking, analyzing, and reporting on training data helps to provide concerned stakeholders with more credibility and insights that can be used to modify future programs. Collected data can also be shared with departments and managers and used as a part of employee assessment.
g) Multiple Uses:
Simulation training does not need to be used only for new elements. Such training can be helpful as a refresher opportunity for employees looking to strengthen their skills or by managers who want employees to gain more experience or address a gap in work efficacy or efficiency.
h) Reduced Costs and Time:
With improved retention and practical, hands-on approaches, simulation training can dramatically reduce the amount of time and costs associated with employee training. Moreover, with on-site simulation training, companies do not bear the costs of travel associated with remote training.