Integrate Your Simulation Agenda – And Let Your Participants “Hear The Music”

You might be surprised to hear that a key question in the instructional-design of a business simulation class is – “Where do you actually put the simulation?”

While that sounds like a rhetorical “Is rain wet?” type of question, answering it is not as simple as it might seem.  And finding the right answer comes down to a choice between two broad approaches:

  1. Keep the Simulation Separate and Focused – on the competition and content/topics directly related to the simulation (e.g., financial statements, ratios, strategic thinking). This approach keeps the momentum of the experience flowing, but covers less content and allows less time for reflection and practice.  (see a sample focused agenda)
  2. Integrate the Simulation with Additional Content – as a more complex and expansive class that includes guest speakers, exercises, and additional content/topics (e.g., leadership, teamwork, operational dynamics). This approach creates a deeper and more holistic experience, but increases the length of the class. (see a sample integrated agenda)

We’ve seen our clients succeed with both types of approaches, but at PriSim we believe that simulations should be integrated as much as possible into the company’s overall business curriculum.  And that competitive “Rounds” and related content within the simulation experience should be combined with additional business acumen content, speakers, and exercises.  Part of the power of a business simulation is that it allows participants to learn by doing.  And the quicker participants can practice with the course content and insights they are learning, the better.

A relevant analogy was framed by mathematician Paul Lockhart, who hypothesized a society where people are taught to read sheet music but are not allowed to actually listen to any music.  The idea is ludicrous, yet Mr. Lockhart argues that this is how math – and we would argue business – is often taught in schools.

We recommend that you integrate your business simulation into your larger course curriculum – and let your participants hear the music while they learn how to play it.

And for more about building effective class agendas, see our previous post on The Rocket-Fueled Business Simulation Agenda – Covering It All in Just 2-Days