16 Apr 2013

Musings of a facilitator (VII)

categories: Business & Financial Acumen, Business Simulations, Facilitation, Finance, People, ProfitAbility Business

The lightbulb moment (in just two hours)

I am always amazed by the buzz and excitement after one of our simulation-based courses. Participants just get it. And why?

Because they don’t just get the theory, but will experience the impact of their decisions immediately. And the relationship between action and result (unlike in the real world where months and dozens of other actions muddy the waters) is crystal clear. It helps that the teams are in competition with each other. No better way to make people work hard if there is a prize in the end (although I have to admit that we do not normally hand out prizes, so don’t hope for too much!)

I know this because I run the programs – in my job I see light bulb moments nearly every day.

But how can we capture that light bulb moment, and get it over to people who have never experienced a ProfitAbility simulation themselves? There is a challenge here. At one extreme, the “experiential” tag still makes people think that they will have to jump off a cliff or camp outdoors. More realistically, those with limited experience of experiential learning will know that involves them doing something. So it is not for the lazy! We can change the description to “serious games” or “simulation-based”, but misconceptions and barriers remain.

Myth: Simulations are too expensive

The other challenge we face is the perceived cost of running simulations.  We might not be the cheapest but neither are we the most expensive. I always use a comparison when talking about ProfitAbility courses.

Imagine (if you do not have any) that you want to give your kids the best start in life by giving them the best education. Would you be willing to pay for a “public school”? And if so why? There are lots of alternatives out there school-wise that are free. (A university I worked for had a great tag-line: “Reassuringly expensive!” By now it is actually cheaper to go there than to go to a state university, but that is life.) But I digress slightly. When deciding on where to send your kids to school do you have the cost at the front of your thinking?  Really? Or would you rather think about the results of the education – the added knowledge, skills, networks – that a good school can give them? And only after that you will wonder if you can afford it. As a parent I constantly ask myself what the best education would be for my three boisterous boys.  I would like my boys to be challenged, have great experiences and most of all, to learn.

Alas, I am in the same boat as many businesses, though on a smaller scale of course. I need to balance the value the learning will create, with the price tag.

The good news is that a real lack of money (as opposed to my school example) is seldom what stops companies booking training. And yet the cost of training is more or less the first thing that is discussed. Why is that?

I believe it is the lack of understanding of the lasting impact that great training can have that’s mostly to blame. Good training, and most training that has been around for a while is reasonably good (otherwise it would have died out as the dinosaurs did) at changing behaviour and improving the skill set of the participants i.e. the company’s skill set. And simulation based training does this even more effectively, highlighting behaviour change during the course.

That elusive light bulb moment

I have been mulling over this dilemma for some time. The problem is that ProfitAbility’s most effective simulations run over two or three days – and who in business has two for three days free to demo a new programme? Answer: no one.

And so, much to the amazement of the innovation and design team (whose focus is always on learning effectiveness and business outcomes), I have taken matters into my own hands, and done a little innovation and design work of my own!

I have chopped and changed one of our most effective of-the-shelf simulations, taking out most of the explanation and teaching content, and compressed it into literally two hours.
The interactive 2 hour demo  will leave you wanting more (or so I hope). In that two hours, you will gain valuable knowledge about finance and business acumen that’s yours to take away.

How much does it cost? Two hours of your time, and your colleagues’ time, my travel expenses (just in case you want to run it in an exotic location!) and the commitment that when you come away after the demo, you will not only consider ways to integrate this type of learning into your curriculum but are also willing to share your experience with colleagues or others in your network.

For more information, simply call me on 01491 821900, or drop me a mail –

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