Simulation training is often used for new product introduction and safety training, but business simulations  – also called, ‘business simulators’ – focus on leadership development training. They can be thought of as a form of ‘serious gaming’ that encourages the development of business skills by presenting testing and realistic business scenarios and asking the participants to make informed decisions.

Business simulations provide hands-on experience – putting theory into practice – without exposing the organization to risk. Training participants can use the curriculum in real-world business scenarios in order to practice, fail, and learn. Studies have shown that failure in a business simulation actually improves learning, as participants are more likely to think about and analyze their decisions when faced with less than optimal results.

Business simulations can provide a practical environment for soft skills development, such as adaptability and reliability, teamwork, conflict resolution, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. They can be used to accelerate strategic change within organizations by allowing stakeholders to experience the change before it happens. This can enhance employee and managerial buy-in in times of change.

Simulations can be played individually or in teams, remotely or on-site, on paper or using technology, facilitated or self-directed, for various time periods, and can be used ‘off-the-shelf’ or tailored for your organization.

When starting a business simulation-based program, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Start small – these tools work best when they are extremely focused;
  • Involve executives – executive speakers add context and credibility and encourages applicability; and
  • Keep your training goals and objectives in mind. Seek to combine strategic goals with training goals to develop the required management skills.