A new, improved “normal”​

I recently read a question that got me thinking: “what parts of ‘normal’ are worth getting back to?” Great question!

In “normal” times PriSim primarily delivers instructor-led, onsite, live classes. Even though we’ve conducted distanced-based, virtual exercises for years with University audiences, those were the exception and not the rule (especially for corporate clients). Well, if you haven’t noticed, the world has changed a wee bit. And out of this change emerges some better approaches and a new “normal”.

While I still prefer live events, I have to admit that there are some real benefits to conducting virtual exercises.
Strengths of Virtual

  • Incredible schedule flexibility. Maybe not an 8-5 event for 2 days, instead 11-4 over 3 days. Next week we begin a 6-week competition for General Motors. The skies the limit re: agenda design.
  • Easy to blend asynchronous with synchronous approaches. Some content can be delivered synchronously, however other content can be captured in video and viewed as homework or over a longer break. We can “steal” more time pre-event with “flipped classroom” delivery (i.e., watch the content/lectures on your own time and come to class to apply the knowledge and engage in Q&A).
  • No travel, facility, or computer rental expense. We recently ran a class with participants in China, USA, Philippines and Japan. Zero travel time, zero travel expense, zero Covid exposure.
  • An instructor’s ability to coach a team “in” the simulation is enhanced with the annotation tools of a platform like Zoom. In addition, an instructor can monitor all teams at once on our Command Control Center (CCC as we call it), which is the master computer showing all teams at work on one large monitor, simultaneously. The instructor monitors the CCC and can see when/where conversations/decisions are going awry.

Strengths of Live

  • Networking of participants (one of our major clients decided to postpone most of their classes in 2020 since networking was one of their primary objectives – and Virtual currently doesn’t do “networking” well).
  • In depth, back and forth discussion. Let’s face it, back and forth audio is still clunky in the virtual world (“I’m sorry, you go… no, you finish please”). In addition, the ability to enhance the spoken words of a discussion with the body language that actually says more than the spoken word – at times.
  • Less disruptive coaching of simulation teams (randomly sticking one’s head into a Zoom breakout room is more disruptive than quietly walking up to a team seated at a physical table). I don’t know why, but it is.
  • Fewer distractions. Gets the participant’s better focused, out of the office and away from the kids/pets.
  • Admit it, oftentimes the travel and the pampering are a perk that clients want to share with their employees (e.g., Napa, Scottsdale, Prague, Barcelona).

At the end of all this disruption our “normal” will be redefined. We’ll be able to blend the strengths of virtual with the strengths of live to create even more powerful/impactful experiences. Specifically,

  • Clients who previously never considered virtual events will continue to run some virtual events.
  • Participants who previously weren’t able to communicate effectively via digital tools are now more adept with these technologies.
  • Live classes will be architected to provide a greater richness of the experience due to the addition of asynchronous and virtual features (i.e., pre-course Office Hours or practice rounds, asynchronous videos delivering some content vs. all-live lectures, hybrid roll-outs involving both virtual and live components).

So back to the opening question – “what parts of ‘normal’ are worth getting back to?”. I think the answer is 1). A lot of parts and 2). Some new parts – actually resulting in a new, improved normal. Personal note: I’m actually quite hopeful that the handshake is lost forever – never liked it. Fist bumps, hugs, elbow taps will do just fine for me!