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FCW : June 15, 2015
24 June 15, 2015 FCW.COM Bookshelf constraints of the software, and setting the simulation parameters requires awareness of the physical world’s complexities. ‘[Practice with simulations] won’t make a bad engineer good,’ says Jim Cashman III, CEO of Ansys, the largest producer of simulation software. ‘It will make a good engineer great.’” And that is what we are after — experience building that creates deep smarts. Computerized simulations employed to train airplane pilots or doctors in medical school build tacit knowledge through repeated, highly realistic experiences. Be thankful that the pilot on your next flight and the surgeon who replaces your knee, hip or heart had experience with simulations. Such simulations allow the user to accumulate vicarious experiences, from which learners will derive principles of decision- making and behavior and will develop the sensory skills that help build their expertise. Software-based simulations are expensive to build and are not a likely option for transferring the deep smarts of a particular individual or group in your organization. However, discovery exercises like the Army’s Leader Challenge are well within your reach, given the ease of video creation. We know of a worldwide construction company whose managers puzzled over how to transfer the expertise of their troubleshooters without constantly flying these experts around the world. One solution the managers came up with was to videotape common construction problems, such as water damage from inadequate preparation of walls. The YouTube-like video did not have high production value, but the stains and crumbling stucco from the problem were clearly visible. After some context was provided (climate, age), workers in far- flung regions of the company were asked to view the video, diagnose what had happened and suggest a remedy. Only then was the cause explained and the preventative steps demonstrated, again by video. Similarly, in your organization you can create short text vignettes of dilemmas specific to your operations. The critical- incident technique we described in chapter 5 is also a form of simulation, although it does not have the element of discovery unless you take the story in pieces, asking at various points what those unfamiliar with the details might have done, what information they might have sought or whom they would have contacted. If you do so, the critical incident begins to approximate the cases that are used as text simulations in so many business school classrooms around the world. Simulations, guided experience and discovery exercises all have the same objectives. First, they all build, through repeated decision-making, a repertoire of experiences and associated patterns on which learners can draw when considering possible responses. Second, these techniques all create a relatively safe environment in which to fail forward — that is, to learn from making wrong decisions without penalty to the learners themselves or others. Failure is highly memorable, so these experiences are a low-cost way to imprint system thinking — that is, to learn to anticipate possible implications of an action on others’ subsequent decisions and actions. Third, these techniques all create a sense of self-efficacy in the learners [and] enhanced confidence in their ability to address future situations and problems. The effectiveness of all these methods is best determined by the ability of the learners to demonstrate expertise in the real world. The usual separation in time and situation between the learning process and its eventual outcome makes evaluation difficult — but not impossible. n That is what we are after — experience building that creates deep smarts. Computerized simulations employed to train airplane pilots or doctors in medical school build tacit knowledge through repeated, highly realistic experiences. 0615fcw_022-024.indd 24 5/26/15 3:58 PM
May 30, 2015
June 30, 2015