Simulate simulate simulate 💻

Jun 07, 2024 2:05 pm

Happy Friday,

I haven't written in a while. I miss you too.

Life got very busy for me very quickly. One week, I was ramping up with a new client; the next, I was at a weeklong leadership training; and the next, I was dealing with a tornado that hit.

I like paradoxes. They sit in my head like a raw egg drooping over the edges of a spoon. Workplaces are full of paradoxes. Want an example?

We need to work harder, but we need to improve.

This sentiment is deeply rooted in most workplaces, and it creates an irritating tension. Sadly, unlike oysters, we don't often get pearls.

While it is possible to structure the process and nature of work to build improvement, most of the time, this does not actually happen. For example, in Scrum you have retrospectives that are built in to improve things at a regular cadence. Often, this doesn't work out as most retrospectives are shallow, poorly facilitated, and seem to focus rather narrowly on the question of how we work harder or get more done.

So, what are you to do if you need to improve but can't build it into the process of work?

You should try doing some simulations.

Simulations are lovely in that they allow you to approximate real-life conditions without having all of the real-world pressures. This detachment allows people to reflect on what they experienced in the simulation, which often prompts significant insights that other improvement methods can't get close to.

Now, simulations aren't a cure-all. They are hard to plan and hard to facilitate, and they ask the impossible of groups: Stop working and learn something.

Not all simulations are large, complex, and lengthy. There are many that fit within an hour. If you want an example, there's one called The Name Game on my site. In 10 minutes, you'll see the lightbulbs go off as people realize the importance of finishing work compared to starting more.

Why am I bringing up simulations though? Well, they were a big part of the leadership training I went to. We went through numerous simulations, each one allowing for the participants to get a deeper understanding of leadership. It was an intense week that has been on my mind.

On the heels of that training, I did a simulation for a client, and one of the participants said they couldn't sleep that night and spent a huge part of their weekend processing everything they saw and experienced.

My advice is that if you need your groups to learn something deeply and quickly, look into what simulations exist and invest in running them for the group. You'd be amazed at how effective they are, and you don't even need a slide deck with key takeaways because people will experience the learning instead of trying to recall it.