Using a Business Simulation for Change Management Initiatives
Almost all companies, big and small, go through change at some point. When a company is smaller, the business owner will often simply say, “We have to change a few things” and the change will usually happen relatively quickly. But it’s obvious to most that the larger the company gets, the more challenging this becomes. Even throwing lots of money at change doesn’t always speed things up. Depending on the size of the company, the idea of ‘change’ turns into a massive undertaking called ‘Change Management’. In some companies, there are armies of people assigned to change management initiatives. In almost all large company change initiatives, very expensive ‘change management’ firms are brought in. In most cases, this complicates the initiative exponentially. But believe it or not, companies do change successfully and it’s a lot more difficult than most understand.
Many companies have learned over the years that successful change is only successful if the employees a) understand what is changing (the why) and b) understand how they fit into the change (the how). Most of us have seen the companies that simply change direction and hope that the employees get in line. This doesn’t usually work very well because no one really understands where they’re going much less how to get there. Many of us have simply been told the direction in the hopes we know how to execute the re-direction ourselves. Again, this doesn’t usually work exceptionally well.
Some of the most successful change management initiatives utilize business simulations to speed up the change. Why do companies use these tools? Because business simulations have the ability to let people experience on their own a) why the change is occurring and b) how they can help contribute to the change. It’s very simple: When people understand the what, why, and how, they help out. Seems easy, but it can get tricky.
5 Tips To Utilizing a Business Simulation within Change Management
1. Engage Human Resources and Training and Development- We’ve seen companies skip this step and it’s usually a disaster. Engage HR and T&D early. They are invaluable at helping build successful programs that create organization, alignment, and engagement around using business simulations within training and development initiatives. Don’t wait, just do it.
2. Make Sure You Have a Clear and Comprehendible Strategy- Again, we’ve seen this mistake before: An overly complex strategy created by change management firms that fall apart under their own weight. Even if you have a very complex strategy, simplify it. Distill it down to the top three takeaways you want managers to understand. This will go a long way.
3. Use Business Simulations with Management, Not Individual Contributors- In most cases, using a business simulation with individual contributors is a waste of money. Focus on using business simulations for directors and above. This is money far better spent.
4. Ensure the Training Ties Back To The Strategy- This is important. We’ve seen training created just for the sake of teaching people things. This is a mistake. The training should focus on demonstrating the strategic advantages of the training content itself. Otherwise, this is theoretical training and will annoy the training participants.
5. Be Patient!- When implementing a business simulation, be patient! Do it right the first time. If you try to take cheap shortcuts, you’ll usually get marginal results (at best). Take your time, focus on the goals, and work from the finish line backwards. This always pays the best dividends.
Utilizing business simulations within change management is more popular than ever. It’s also more complicated due to the speed at which strategy moves. If you focus on the core, take your time to do a little planning, and utilize these tips, you should be fine.