Simulations for a Changing Economy

With the economic downturn and increased attention to the bottom line, it may be time to re-evaluation simulations.

With the economic downturn and increased attention to what drives positive results for the bottom line, many learning leaders are re-evaluating their learning strategies and tools and either scaling back or shifting focus.

Simulations have steadily grown as a learning tool during the past few years, but like many tools, they are being scrutinized for their ability to deliver in a cost-conscious environment. Industry providers maintain that simulations can play a significant role in developing the kind of business skills needed to thrive in challenging economic conditions.

“Simulations are probably one of the most effective ways of building business acumen,” said Rommin Adl, executive vice president of BTS, a provider of business simulations for learning and workforce development.

This week, BTS announced the launch of BTS Tournaments in the United States. Developed by a BTS subsidiary in Finland, BTS Tournaments is an online competition in which U.S.-based teams of three to five people run a simulated multinational company against real competitors in a virtual market environment.

Recognized for their ability to create high levels of interest and engagement, simulations also can develop the skills participants need to build and sustain business, Adl said.

“As they do it, they’re having fun and they’re also learning about running a business and about the key drivers of performance,” he said. “In this particular simulation, their success is based on their shareholder value creation.”

With that focus, simulations can give participants more insight into what drives performance, which is especially important in today’s business environment.

“When times are tough, that’s exactly when you need people to be the most astute and skilled and knowledgeable on how to drive that financial performance,” he said.

Adl said simulations should be customized to learning objectives, as well as changing business conditions. BTS inserts “wobblers” into the BTS Tournaments simulations to force participants to grapple with changing business conditions. For example, participants might be forced to deal with an evaporation of capital.

“We can really bring out a deep understanding about what it takes to succeed, and make it current and relevant to what’s going on in real life,” Adl said.

But ultimately, Adl said it’s important that simulations focus on measurable results. The key to using simulations to prepare participants to grapple with rapidly changing business conditions is to link it back to real life and to drive behavioral change.