Ten Secrets of Successful Simulations

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 […]

By | October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments