Presentation Before The American Water Works Association
Annual Conference – Dallas, Texas
By Garry Shirts, Ph.D. with Mr. Jack Markel, American Water Works
Thank you Jack. The first time I met Jack, he was so angry with one of my partners he got up in the middle of our demonstration of Pumping The Colors® and walked out. A colleague of mine chased him down the hall, discovered what was wrong and apologized for our mistake. Jack thought about it for a few minutes and decided to return to the seminar. At the time, I thought, “We will never see him again,” but a year later he incorporated Pumping the Colors into one of the American Water Works management programs. […]
I knew from that incident that he’s a no nonsense, get down to work, let’s get it done kind of guy. I like to believe that that no-nonsense, bottom line, practical approach to the world is what attracted him to Pumping the Colors.
Before I elaborate on that point, I’d like to point out that when Jack and his team developed their program they did something that only a few people in training do. He didn’t assume what the training needs were, he did a needs analysis. He then designed the program to meet those needs. He then sold it to top management and said he wouldn’t proceed unless they supported the project. They had to be convinced. It was not an easy sale.
Then after the program he evaluated its effectiveness. He found that his program produced positive results in his managers in 8 out of 10 behaviors measured. That’s doing it right from beginning to end.
In the time I have available, I’d like to […]
By R. Garry Shirts
An experiential simulation can be a wonderful training method. But it’s easy to create a one that is not as effective as it could be. Here are some suggestions for improving your chances of being successful.
One of the most satisfying experiences in training or education, no matter what the subject, is the so-called “Aha!” moment, that instant when sudden, spontaneous insight cuts through the tangle of loose ends in a learner’s mind to reveal a memorable truth. […]
Having spent nearly 40 years designing experiential simulations, I believe simulations are the most likely teaching method to create those “Aha!” moments. In a simulation called StarPower, the moment occurs when trainees, who might be police officers or corporate managers, unexpectedly realize that the only way to keep power over others is not to use it. In BaFa’ BaFa’, the moment comes when trainees suddenly grasp the idea that good intentions can actually worsen cultural misunderstandings. In a team-building simulation called Pumping the Colors, it happens when trainees abruptly comprehend that the rules a team operates under are actually the team’s responsibility.
When combined with other unique strengths of simulations-their ability to simplify systems, to demonstrate other people’s perspectives, to develop “battlefront” skills in safety, and to solve problems from the inside out – these eye-opening moments can endow trainees with a vivid, often deeply personal understanding of even the most abstract training concepts.
Simulations, however, are widely misunderstood. The most experienced trainers, called upon to design a simulation, often create a workaday version of the board game “Monopoly.” These are sometimes successful as play, but rarely effective as training.
Here are 10 secrets for creating successful training simulations. They represent lessons learned from […]