Team Building Simulations: What are the Benefits?

Team building simulations are engaging and interactive experiences that create a parallel universe to reflect and mirror the realities that organizations face. They can be conducted indoors, outdoors or a combination of both. Team building simulations are available for on-site or off-site delivery, at home or at a foreign destination. They can be simple or complex. Technology driven or no tech. Some are computer based and some even use game boards.

The benefits of business simulations include:

  • breaking down silos.
  • enhancing cross-functional teamwork
  • convey complex technical or financial information in a user-friendly manner
  • reducing friction and “turf wars” between organizational levels and departments.
  • developing the skills to lead or be a productive member of cross-functional teams.
  • forging stronger alliances and building stronger links between geographically dispersed teams.
  • putting employees in the customer’s shoes by playing the role of a client in the simulation.
  • developing an awareness of the contributions and challenges of other departments through firsthand experience working in other functional area or at another organizational levels.

Simulations can be used to:

  • champion organizational change initiatives.
  • clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations.
  • give teams the tools to thrive in a fast-paced environment.
  • inspire team members to “stay the course” in the midst of turbulence.

Essential Elements of Effective Team Building Simulations

Without a thorough debriefing to tie the experience back to business, it’s just a game for fun….not a team building simulation.

Many programmes are marketed as “team building” or simulations but they miss the mark because they lack one or more of these essential elements for effective team building simulations.

Effective business team building simulations need to include:

  1. Confer with Executive Team: To determine objectives and articulate how they relate to the success of the business.
  2. Crowdsource the Content with Participants: The goal is to ensure buy-in.
  3. Customize the Simulation: The team briefing and debriefing must be laser beam focused on objectives and organizational issues.
  4. Executive Briefing: To give a clear picture or organizational issues and the objectives of team building.
  5. Team Briefing: To set the stage and highlight links between the simulation and organizational issues and challenges.
  6. Debriefing: To identify key learnings, tools and strategies and how they apply to business and the organization
  7. Business Application Exercises:
    • re-configure teams and assign SPECIFIC business issues, challenges or opportunities to each team
    • teams analyze business issues using the tools and strategies acquired during the team building simulation
    • teams prepare and present brief presentations with the results of their analysis and proposed solutions
    • next steps
  8. Follow up.

Examples of Business Simulations

  • The Accounting Game: An upbeat simulation that teaches participants how to read and understand financial statements
  • The Cash Flow Game A board game that familiarizes participants with how the stock market, real estate market and world of business investment work
  • Inc. Inc.: Breaking Down Silos Participants improve cross-functional teamwork by operating a simulated company and acquiring a better understanding of other departments and organizational levels
  • Restaurant Inc. Inspired by restaurant wars on TV cooking shows, participants design a strategy to launch a restaurant, create a menu and decor, and prepare signature dishes that are judged by professional chefs
  • The Quest for Black Gold Participants discover strategies to uncover hidden business opportunities by designing a marketing strategy for an oil company and then using GPS equipment to locate oil rig components, assemble them and drill for oil (in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Oman)
  • Visexecutaries: Seizing Opportunities in our Shifting Corporate Landscape Inspired by the Apprentice, teams complete a real project, measure results and transfer what they learn to their real world challenges

Photo Credit: thetaxhaven (Flickr)

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