How to facilitate a business simulation game for transformational learning
No matter how clever a business simulation game is 70% of the learning is not in the game but in the people – the players, the subject matter expert and the facilitators. But what is the essence of the facilitator role? Simulation facilitators are responsible for ensuring that the "conversational opportunities" afforded by the simulation are translated into the achievement of the specific learning objectives for all the participants.
They do this in 2 main ways:
1. By asking questions and giving feedback to their team(s) about their decision-making particularly:
a) their use of all resources and knowledge available to the team
b) whether they have considered all the options not just the obvious
c) whether they are working based on evidence based not hunches
2. By enriching participant experience by providing useful information – on background and context but never “inside information” to help a team make a decision – this defeats the whole purpose which is to learn, not to win!
In addition facilitators must support their team(s) in the 20 practical areas listed below:
1. Ensure the live game does not commence whilst people are confused
2. Ensure conversations are about the business NOT the simulation
3. Amplify high-value conversations and kill low-value ones
4. Ensure each team works as a team
5. Ensure all participates actively engage (not dominators or checked-outs)
6. Ensure each team manages its time well
7. Over the course of the simulation exploit opportunities to connect the players experientially to each key point in the learning charter
8. Ensure learning happens throughout the whole event
9. Ensure the end of round and end of game debriefs have adequate time
10. Ensure all players capture personal learnings
11. Ensure commitments about behaviour changes and results are captured
12. Ensure the participants learn from each other and other teams
13. Ensure the competitiveness between teams is well managed
14. Ensure the hand-outs are distributed with impact and at the right time
15. Ensure that any technical confusions are quickly resolved
16. Ensure the leader-boards are effectively used
17. Ensure that any business rule queries are confidently resolved
18. Ensure that the recognition of team performance is managed sensitively
19. Ensure facilitators and subject matter experts work as an effective team
20. Anything else to ensure the learning goals are achieved…..
The facilitators job is also to amplify and enrich high value conversations and to sensitively shut down low value conversations.
Low value conversations: - what are the detailed rules in the simulation model ? - how do we “game” the simulation ? - how does the exact maths work ? - why can't the game do X or Y ? - why can't the screen offer more information on Z ?
High value conversations: - what is the central business principle or issue we are debating here ? - what would we do in the real world ? - what real world dilemmas are we wrestling with here and what are we trying to balance or trade-off ? - what extra key complexities are present in our business (and not in the simulation) which we must also understand better ? - what new possibilities about how we think about our business are we uncovering ?