Business Simulations Can Reinforce the Link between Attitudes and Behaviours
There is often a big gap between what people say they (will) do and what they actually do. The reason why people say ‘yes’ on the one hand, and act ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ on the other hand, finds its origin in a loose coupling between attitudes and behaviour. In change processes this irrationality often comes into play, often to the detriment of the collective change results.
The link between attitudes and behaviour can be enhanced by, for example, group-based discussed goals, performing tasks and learning of key competencies. If you want to influence counterproductive or unconscious behaviour, the persons involved must first become aware of these behaviours.
Deployment of simulation games or business games can reinforce the link between attitudes and behaviours by making behaviour visible for participants and offer them the opportunity to give and receive feedback about specific behaviour. A safe environment provided by the counsellor is an important prerequisite. In a safe environment, participants will be better motivated to learn from—and with each other. It has become clear that with well-designed, flexible, relevant and realistic simulation games, facilitated by experienced professionals, the above mentioned learning process is at its best advantage.
Sufficient time is needed with every session, to allow the participants to reflect on their own behaviour, suggest improvements and implement their decisions in multiple game cycles. This increases awareness of behavioural patterns. The application of competency metrics links competence measurements to insights on behaviour shown in the simulation game.
Before the start of the simulation game, each participant specifies their own level of competence through a self-assessment (white paper: Competence Assessment in Hands-on Programs for ITIL® and PRINCE2®). During the simulation game participants will face the consequences of current behaviour, which is reflected in group settings. Playing and reflecting results in retrospective adjustments of views on one’s own behaviour. This narrows the gap between actual and assumed behaviour.
The awareness of one’s knowledge and ability is displayed graphically on an individual and group level (Figure 2). On the y-axis the score of the behaviour as seen by peers and trainer is displayed, the x-axis shows the score formed by the own attitude and views.
Figure 2 shows the extent to which beliefs about own behaviour and behaviour as seen by others match, and what this means for the level of consciousness. For example, participant No. 10 has overestimated himself, while others do not recognize this in practice. The conclusion is that No. 10 has “blind spots” and is thus unconsciously incompetent with regard to the subject scored. Participants 1, 7 and to a lesser extent 9, have assessed themselves lower than others judge them. We call this unconsciously competent, but the explanation could also be that they are unsure of their abilities, or that they set the bar higher for himself. That is the reason we always pre-measure the confidence (self-efficacy) of participants. In this case it turned out that all three were somewhat perfectionists and not aware of their strengths.
When properly used, simulation games can narrow the gap between behaviour and attitudes. In change management, this will lead to the desired change results. By using measurement instruments, added value can be created for participants and organizations.
Bram Janse is active in the Game Expertise Centre at Simagine. He gained his Master title in Implementation and Change management at the Open University in 2011. His specialist subject was: The use of business simulations in change processes. He is currently developing an evaluation model for training, for Simagine, which focuses on the use of business simulations. This concerns action based research, whose results must be useful for management and organizations.
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