The Complexity Levels Of Simulations

-A look at different levels of simulations.
Introduction
Rick Lash, of Hay Management Consulting, breaks down simulations into three separate levels of complexity: Low, Medium and High.

Low-End Simulation
A low-end simulation would be something like a role-play. A role-play is considered a simulation because trainees are participating in a situation that could actually occur in the workplace. For example: participants could role-play a performance appraisal discussion.

Medium Simulation
Case studies are a type of simulations because they describe a situation that might happen (or has happened) in a real company. Groups of participants read and discuss the case and debate what should be done to handle the situation discussed in the case.

High-end Simulation
Often high-end training simulations require a group of people to run a fictional business. "The Beer Game" (See: Good Games Versus Bad Games for explanation of "The Beer Game") would be considered as a high-end simulation because it simulates the elements of to run a real distribution business.

Other high end simulations resemble computer games. These kinds of programs are used to simulate anything flying a jet to rescuing hostages.

A Mix Of All The Levels
Lash also says that many people mix the levels together to create more comprehensive simulations. For example: the well-known assessment test called "In Basket" is actually a low-complexity simulation where players have to sort though their "in-basket" of tasks and set priorities. Mix this kind of task with a case study and a high-end simulation like "The Beer Game" - and you have a comprehensive training program.

Conclusion
Simulations are a useful alternative to lectures. While they require more work to create the potential impact on learning will often justify the effort.


Thanks to Dr. Rick Lash for providing his insight on games and simulations, it was much appreciated. Rick is a Leadership Expert with the Hay Group in Toronto. He can be reached at Games vs. Simulations.

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