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The use of simulations in training dates to the early 20th century, when the military understood the benefit of simulation-based training. Since then, simulations have become increasingly popular across various other industries as well – Healthcare, Education, etc.
Business schools specifically find tremendous value in employing simulations in their curriculum. As a result, students join the workforce far more prepared to manage the challenges and ambiguity of the corporate world than previous generations. Unfortunately, this traction hasn’t been gained in the corporate sector. This may be because of the myriad of myths and biases that may exist in the corporate sector against simulations in learning.
However, in the last decade or so, the preliminary use of simulation in the business sector has shown significant benefit to business. Therefore, it is in the best interest of organizations to deploy simulation-based training to employees. This, however, requires a mindset shift about simulations.
Therefore, to facilitate the increased use of simulations in corporate learning, KNOLSKAPE presents ‘Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition’, where we debunk all the myths we’ve heard against simulations. To ensure that each of these myths is addressed thoroughly, we present this information in a three-part blog series. Watch out for the entire series.
Myth: Simulations are unnecessary
I have always found this belief to be hilarious. On what basis are simulations considered unnecessary? Think about it: Why do organizations invest exorbitant sums of money in training? It is so that:
- Employees perform to their full potential
- Productivity and efficiency are improved
- Organizations can bring in high revenues and more profit
In essence, corporate learning is about developing employees and growing business. Let’s break down each component:
- Developing employees: Employees stay with organizations that give the learning and development opportunities relevant to them. Employees seek hyper-personalized learning solutions that can help them manage their weaknesses and become better versions of themselves. The question is: Are non-simulation-based learning interventions meeting learner expectations?
- Growing business: Organizations invest in learning initiatives so that they may retain high performing talent who will be instrumental in taking business to greater heights. However, the question always remains – what is the return on the investment that we are making on learning?
The reality is that learning programs are not cheap, however, thus far, learning impact has never been measured to the comprehensive level that L&D and business would like. How can simulations be unnecessary when they cater to the learners’ need for hyper-personalization, practice, and preparation while giving comprehensive insights to L&D and business on participation, potential, performance and progress?
Myth: Simulation software is expensive
A common myth about employing simulations software is that it is very expensive. A common question that people ask me is, “how do I justify the cost of this simulation-based training when I have a vendor who is quoting half the price for a leadership program?”
That’s a fair question to ask but look at what you’re really taking away from this. To me, a training program is like a pair of sneakers. You can either buy the inexpensive brand of sneakers that would cost you no more than US$30 but is most likely uncomfortable and stressful on your feet; Or, you could buy a pair of ergonomically crafted shoes from a well-established brand such as Nike, which could cost you anything above US$150. Why does this matter?
Here’s the reality: Your Nike sneakers are an investment, because they are going to keep your feet safe, comfortable and painless. The shoes are also going to last you a very long time. On the other hand, the 30-dollar pair of shoes is going to get very uncomfortable, you’ll find yourself not being able to wear them for too long, and you are going to swap them out in less than a year’s time because the soles of the shoes have worn out.
In the long scheme of things, your Nikes are not only lasting longer, but they are saving you the effort of experimenting with a new brand when your 30-dollar knock-offs get thrown out every 8-10 months.
Here’s some basic math,
1 pair of Nike costing US$150, lasts 5-6 years.
Each pair of US$30 knock-offs need to be replaced every 8-10 months, costing you a total of US$ 180-US$ 225 at the end of 5 years.
Not only are you paying more for the knock-offs, your feet are subjected to constant pain and eventually you are going to have to go to the doctor or a foot spa to relax your feet (you end up spending more money here).
Apply this analogy to simulation-based vs. non-simulation-based learning programs. You can choose to employ a seemingly more economical non-simulation-based training program. The long game will look like this: You are going to find yourself giving your employees a crash course every 6-9 months, constantly repeating the same material. Reality check! If you repeat the same thing over and over again, it means that the message has not stuck. Therefore, you are spending a lot of time, effort and money on no additional value.
On the contrary, a one-time investment on simulation-based training leads to reduction of time and effort in upskilling employees, ensuring learning retention, fun and engaging learning, giving learners the opportunity to practice learning so that they can almost immediately apply it to real life situations, which means your time to productivity after the learning intervention is almost minimal.
Now, ask yourself, which is truly more expensive.
Myth: Simulations only help predict failures or shortcomings
Let’s quickly recap what a simulation offers learners – learners are presented with a real-life like, safe learning environment where they are given a context similar to their real-life scenario. Learners assume a role within the simulation and are expected to perform certain actions to meet predetermined objectives. Learner actions are recorded and analyzed, culminating in a comprehensive report.
Unlike in an interview or discussion format, where learners are preconditioned to respond the “right” way, within a simulation, actions are taken based on the individual’s innate style and responses. It is important to remember that simulations are objective and free of biases. Therefore, they don’t look for any specific parameters. Therefore, the cumulative report presents a holistic understanding of the learner’s performance, comprising both areas of strength as well as failures.
In the next two blogs of this series, we continue to look at the other myths that exist about simulations which keep organizations from benefiting through the implementation of simulations in their learning and development interventions.
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