Business Simulation as a Training Tool: Our Experience 

“We will never find out unless we try” – this was our argument when we finally decided to accept the new training method for Vocational Education Training (VET) school principals. Business simulation and gamification are not familiar for those who manage the day-to-day activities of a VET school – be it a major city or a small town somewhere far away. Therefore, we initially had some doubts about using this type of training popular in the corporate world but new to the education sector.  

A blog post by the Public Private Partnership to Improved Plumbing Education project, Ukraine. 

Our main concern was that older people would refuse to participate or would get frustrated from the idea that they needed to follow gaming instructions. After all, they often think that they “already know it all”. On the other hand, this type of activity is the most engaging, effective and anything but boring, especially as we collaborated with a reputable training agency. We wanted this training to bring people outside of their boxes and out of the comfort zone of their ordinary experience.

But first, we ourselves needed to get out of our comfort zone and admit that it might work. The more experience we personally obtain the more we tend to stick to something that works well and what is already tested. After all, fear of losing is stronger than a chance of winning.

"There is an inner child in each of us willing to play though overwhelmed with professional patterns and conventional experiences. This was my impression when watching people follow the Caribbean adventures path at the training. Being guided by experienced trainers, sooner or later, everyone caught the vibe and tried their best to reach the goal."
Oksana Ushakova, Communication Expert, EdUP

As the main topic of this business simulation was teamwork and strategic planning, we expected participants to learn the best practices through personal experience and bring new visions to their daily work. Namely, that cooperation brings more value for the organization than pure hierarchical structures; or that successful strategy requires well-considered allocation of resources and, after all, that to be heard you first need to listen. 

Of course, significant changes do not happen in one day or after a single event. In short term, we expected people to get inspired by the new experience and admit that there is something out there that can help them in their work. After all, this was a start, and a series of other training will follow. 

In a long term, we hoped that managers either consciously or not would apply at least some of those practices they experienced at the training.

Notably, teamwork and communication were the key references from the feedback that we received from the participants. Someone even claimed that they have never received so much important information in such a short term, concluding the two days event (the second day was a conventional master class on communication). In general, 80% of respondents appreciated business simulation giving it the highest grade. 

When asked, what would you change in your ordinary work after the event, participants generally noted that they would “use the obtained knowledge in communication with colleagues and students”, “perceive conflicts and find solutions in a different way”, “use feedback that is aimed at development”, “apply strategic planning”, and “change the approach to cooperation with colleagues and subordinates”. 

"Thus, my conclusion is that business simulation is a good method to try when conduction training for stakeholders even non-familiar with this type of learning. What is important – to have a reputable agency and quality debriefing during the event. From a communication perspective, it is worth informing participants in advance that they will experience a new type of training and make references to the business world or the reputation of the training agency to hook their attention to some positive projections."
Oksana Ushakova, blog author

This blog is part of the Eastern Europe region blog series "Engaging with the people", where Our team members from across the region share their experiences, learning, and vision for creating new opportunities in the countries where we work.