Executive Challenge (updated).

Author:Lowell, Richard

Executive Challenge (updated), Online Training, 2007, Enspire Learning, $5000.

Support: complete one-day program with facilitator.

Real life--RL," in the shorthand of bloggers, fanfic writer, and email aficionados--is what training simulations are all about, or are supposed to be about. How can we impart the necessary skills without demoralizing our students or hurting the organization? How can we help students retain and exercise the required knowledge to succeed? How can we change their attitude and behaviors to become a fully engaged workforce?

Real Life is what we want to simulate--but real life without the tangible consequences like turnover and big financial hits. What we want to accomplish in a business leadership simulation is all of the human interactions; the nuances of personality and timing; the flow of data, information, and knowledge--or the lack of it. We want to see responses to stress, gauge ethical behavior, and monitor the impact on business outcomes.

Until recently, most off-the-shelf business simulations have been static: one individual interacting with a computer program to manipulate a series of data streams to demonstrate mastery of theoretical business and leadership concepts. The student inputs a decision, and the computer changes the data stream output to reflect the consequences of that decision based on its programming. The simulation remains a solo experience.

But Real Life isn't about interacting one-on-one with a computer. It is about people: how they interact, how they respond not just to data input but to one another to make decisions that affect an organization. Until now, no business leadership simulation has treated the organization as an "organism"--a living, evolving creature that has moods and fluctuating responses to the people who compose its living tissue.

To reflect the reality of how people actually work, Executive Challenge is a multi-player simulation designed to focus on the team instead of the individual. Web-based, it allows for teams of between eight and 11 players to interact, similar to a web-based game. Teams compete to get a software startup off the ground and then convince a venture capital firm to fund the next stage. Although leadership is the overall focus, teams face a full range of challenges, including marketing, sales, business processes, and finance.

It's not about the computer, either; a facilitator orchestrates the learning activities and the entire group comes together to...

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