Learn the 12 signs a simulation that's supposed to build business acumen won't work (more about them in this new guide).

Learn the 12 signs a simulation that’s supposed to build business acumen won’t work (more about them in this new guide).

In my last post in this Gotchas Series I wrote that you might be surprised at how ineffective business simulations can be. Now I’m going to show you what I mean.

There are at least 12 ways a business acumen simulation can go wrong. First off, if you are seeking to develop foundational understanding of business among employees at all levels, you need to avoid business simulation games with closed decision-making and seek one with open decision making.

Also, don’t focus on just your own company. Get a simulation tailored for your whole industry.

Steer clear of training that is isolating for participants. We are social animals and flourish with team-based learning! The same goes for passive or automated dynamics. Your people need truly experiential learning to absorb the lessons. Try to engage the whole person – not just their mind but their body too.

Don’t settle for made-up or inappropriate business drivers; you need participants to grapple with relevant real-world business drivers. The model shouldn’t have hidden rules, either. The dynamics should be transparent so participants can see it’s not rigged to produce a preset result.

While fine-grained detail is great for later, it doesn’t belong in early training. If you expect a great leap forward in participants’ competencies, help them see the big picture. Challenge participants to think about the whole business and how to balance the goals of all its stakeholders.

Put full financial statements in their hands, not partial statements that are unrealistic. And make sure it sticks! Help your people form a mental picture of the fundamentals, and they’ll carry it with them the rest of their career.

Last but not least, unless you want to drive a wedge between groups in the company and foster “silos”, don’t get a hodge-podge of different business strategy games from different trainers. But don’t get a one-size-fits-all simulation either! You have people with a range of needs and acumen levels, so pick your training solutions accordingly.

Next post I’ll dive deeper into each of these top 12 gotchas – and what you can ask to find out crucial information about a business acumen simulation before you invest.