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FCW : June 15, 2015
to refit with water and to explain to his men what [had] happened and what their new mission was. The platoon then conducted the mission and returned to base. The objective of having the learners actively grapple with a complex issue such as this one before being told how it was resolved is to instill judgment — wise decision-making is a hallmark of deep smarts. Learners are warned that the solution reached in a particular case was not the only possible solution — perhaps not even the best. There is no way that the soldiers can be prepared for all contingencies by remembering specific solutions. But these learners will have to make such decisions quickly, using the best information available at the time; the Leader Challenge is a kind of simulation of the real world in which the soldiers will lead. Feedback from participants included such statements as: “This works. How do I get more of these challenges?” Not only did the challenges build confidence in decision-making, but the exercise also helped the learners figure out what they didn’t know and where they had been overconfident. Discovery exercises similar to the Army’s are deployed effectively in business settings as well. Using vignettes for training has produced a statistically significant improvement in situation awareness, sense making and planning skills. For example, Holly Baxter, the chief scientist at Strategic Knowledge Solutions, recounts a technique that begins with a subject-matter expert preparing a scenario of a situation that required a decision. The background and other relevant information were provided, but not the action taken by the subject-matter expert. The scenario was presented to the knowledge recipients, who shared with one another their thoughts, including the pros and cons of various possible decisions. Only then was the actual decision taken by the expert presented. Baxter describes this method as “a simple technique that puts students in the moment and gives surrogate experience, which enhances knowledge transfer.” Simulations in the hands of individuals who have no real-world experience can lead to miscalculations. Product designers report saving lots of money avoiding the necessity of building physical prototypes by using simulations. At the same time, though, says Ashlee Vance, some critics see drawbacks in simulations: “Design experts say they worry that young engineers now place too much emphasis on simulation and not enough on knowing how to build physical objects. Ultimately, it’s an engineer who establishes the June 15, 2015 FCW.COM 23 Excerpted from “Critical Knowledge Transfer: Tools for Managing Your Company’s Deep Smarts.” Copyright 2015 by Dorothy Leonard, Walter Swap and Gavin Barton. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. transfer.” of individuals who have no real-world experience can lead to miscalculations. Product designers report saving lots of money avoiding the necessity of building physical prototypes by using simulations. At the same time, though, says Ashlee Vance, some critics see drawbacks in simulations: “Design experts say they The objective of having the learners actively grapple with a complex issue...is to instill judgment — wise decision-making is a hallmark of deep smarts. 0615fcw_022-024.indd 23 5/26/15 3:58 PM
May 30, 2015
June 30, 2015