Paint By Numbers Doesn’t Always Work for Leadership Training

Remember those Paint By Number kits you did as a kid? It was a great way to learn about painting. Plus it’s a confidence builder – it’s hard to fail at Paint By Numbers.

But as a learning tool, the approach can only go so far. At some point the lines and numbers need to be replaced by a blank, intimidating canvas. And the opportunity to fail – and to learn.

When it comes to designing Business Simulations and leadership training, we have found that a similar balance must be struck. Some initial guidance from Instructors is necessary and valuable, but giving participants “the answers” too easily turns the experience into a simplistic Paint By Number exercise. Instead, a coaching approach that provides a safety net without hand-holding will lead to exploration, discovery, beneficial failure and success, and ultimately to meaningful and practical business insights.

And failure IS an option when learning – sometimes the best option. In the words of R. W. Johnson, Jr., the Former CEO of Johnson & Johnson: R.W. “Failure is our most important product.” But if you’re going to fail, better to do it in a simulation than at a real company!

How do you strike a balance between guidance and self-directed discovery in your classes?