Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a business simulation for project management “Challenge of Egypt” and that gave me the idea to share my impressions and thoughts on when and how a project management business simulation can be useful for the effective development of the team and successful project management.
I am sure most of you have heard of Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning, according to which the rate of retention of information depends on the way of learning. According to him, 80% of the material is remembered if the learning is delivered under the form of simulation of a real experience and that is exactly what the business simulations is about. In few hours or few days this kind of a workshop simulates several years of business and enables the participants to experiment with different strategies or scenarios or to demonstrate different business models.
People of the 21st century are involved in various projects as part of their everyday work or in their personal life and no matter the profession, they are expected to have certain skills to be able to adequately participate in a project. But surely there are challenges and skills that as obvious as they seem, cause many projects to fail.
It is much more inefficient and expensive if you learn these skills while working on real projects, that is why I think the business simulations are one of the most effective and secure ways for a team to practice new skills and changes in the organization and processes. In the following lines I will describe my view on how project management business simulation can help to develop various competencies:
Interactive and engaging
One of the big advantages of business simulation is that participants can make decisions, see and understand the consequences. The casual and enjoyable atmosphere makes the team more open and more willing to acknowledge mistakes and united, the team works in the name of the project success. As a result, the team members gain new skills and behavior that they later apply in the real business environment.
New way of thinking
Business simulation as real project, contains a large amount of useful information. The advantage here is that it is gradually introduced in interactive manner which allows participants to understand it and to start implementing it at the same moment. Several lessons learned sessions, on the other hand, allow participants to stop for a moment and look at the big picture, in order to recognize mistakes and to redefine the interaction processes between project units.
Communication, communication and communication
Communication, planning and the right coordination between the parties is one of the most important aspects of the project. Its benefits may sound familiar, but planning and coordination between all stakeholders and participants, has proved to be the most difficult task as it is in reality. Reporting on too many levels and the chaos, that comes from inadequate communication management, clearly show how a project can go wrong only due to the lack of a proper approach to communication.
One of the most important aspects of the business simulation is to obtain immediate feedback. All participants leave the session knowing how they did individually, as a team or as an organization. Doing an 1-day business simulation can highlight the critical points in the effectiveness of the team, and a problem can be solved only if we realize that there is one.
At the end I would say that the business simulation project management is an engaging way to learn how projects are managed. Active learning and application of the knowledge help to remember the practices without a big effort. When participants make real business decisions in business simulation and immediately see the results of their actions, important business principles become part of their natural thinking.
In business simulations, participants are emotionally engaged and interested to learn more. This gives an opportunity for discussion from which you can take valuable opinions and which is helpful to all participants.
And in conclusion, if I have to decide if a project management business simulation is effective in bringing a team together, I can clearly confirm that after a day spent solving problems, playing different scenarios, trying good and not-so-good strategies to achieve results, the team becomes more united and honest and starts communicating better. And isn’t this the essence of a good team building?