Simulation-based Learning: The 4 key ingredients for management development which STICKS

Article by Ken Thompson, last updated October 2018

“The learning people derive from the experience is very powerful and because it is theirs the transfer to the workplace is so much easier”. 

Simon Brocket, International HR Director at Twinings

First let me briefly define what I believe are the four key ingredients of an effective blended Simulation-based Learning (SbL) approach: 

  1. Experiential 
  2. Social 
  3. Scenarios
  4. Gamified 

Experiential means that people are learning by doing rather than just watching or listening; Social means that the experiences are shared and discussed with colleagues in teams (which requires facilitation); Scenarios means that participants face credible and challenging problems and Gamified means that participants can track their progress and compare how well these are doing against colleagues playing in other teams. 

If such an approach to SbL is properly executed, it will result in three learning reinforcement phenomena which together make participant learning more satisfying, more personal and stickier:

  1. Self-Discovery 
  2. Social Reinforcement 
  3. Team Achievement 

People much prefer learning by self-discovery to learning by being told.

Self-discovery occurs two ways experientially - finding out by/for yourself and conversationally - with/through others, in other words - social reinforcement.

The final aspect is the satisfaction in doing well in a difficult quest which is accentuated by sense of competing as a team – team achievement.


There are four key ingredients of an effective blended Simulation-based Learning (SbL) approach – Experiential, Social, Scenarios and Gamified.

If these ingredients are effectively implemented they will result in learning which is very "sticky" because it catalyses three important learning reinforcement phenomena :  Self-Discovery, Social Reinforcement and Team Achievement. 

Let's Connect

And a member of our Team will be in touch


We have 150+ articles on a wide range of Business Leadership Topics
Explore articles

More about Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

Contact Ken

Want to know more about this topic?

As well as starting the conversation we will send you a FREE Executive Summary of our Book:

A Systematic Guide to Game Based Learning in Organizations


We transform Leadership Development using Business Simulations, guided by three principles:

Goals, Roles & Souls

Why Choose Business Simulations?

We champion Business Simulations as an effective and engaging form of Leadership Development. 'Learn by doing' hones skills in a safe and controlled environment.

Learn more

Let's Talk Business Simulations

We would love to tell you more about what we can do for your Business.
Feel free to give us a call on +44 2896 237253

Close App
Request a Consultation