#13 Five questions to answer before recommending any experiential learning game

Client Enquiry:

I am trying to get a group of senior leaders to recognise the problems they face in our organisational structure and to consider how they should respond. I'd like to use physical experiential learning materials but the client wants to use an electronic simulation. How do you suggest I respond?

RSVP Design Response

Whether it's an internal or external client you're working with, first establish whether the choice of delivery tool is about the client's preferences or yours - it should be neither, it should be chosen according to the learner requirements. As a first step list the 'problems' you want them to encounter in your experiential learning session and check against the short-listed activities to see whether they will allow the learners to encounter these problems in a relevant way.

Here's an example list we received recently:

  1. Information overload
  2. Conflict potential
  3. Uncertainty/stress
  4. Power struggles
  5. Slow reactions
  6. Monitoring & control issues
  7. Excessive overhead/duplication of effort
  8. Overlap of roles
  9. Ability of individuals to say 'no'
  10. Communication/feedback across boundaries and choice of customisation/method


Now this is a big list, and it's unlikely that any simple activity would cover all these areas - our suggestion would be to use one of our more complex activities: Top Priority.


Check whether the electronic simulation allows the type of interpersonal interactions (many and complex) that will be required to stimulate the kind of problems in your list. If the simulation involves making decisions that are only influenced by a computer algorithm and not other people's views of your decisions then it may not provide the authentic reactions you need.


Finally - if this is a group that normally interacts with computers for most of the day in their typical job roles, consider the power of either the familiar - give them more computers to interact with, or the unusual - stimulate and engage them by giving them an alternative problem-solving or decision-making environment.

Tip #13

When designing a learning experience - ensure the client can give you a list of the detailed behavioural issues that they wish you to address. It will be too many, but then at least you can argue the priorities!

Ask yourself these questions before recommending any activity (including your own preferred 'goto' activities!):

  1. Has there been sufficient close examination of the learners’ organisational or social context in order to design or select learning activities?
  2. Has there been appropriate simplification of the concrete world context to define, isolate and emphasise the desired learning outcomes?
  3. Does the learning experience have a sufficient degree of attractiveness, complexity and responsiveness to allow full learner immersion and holistic engagement?
  4. Will this design get the full and active engagement of the target learners for the full duration of the learning event and more?
  5. Is there enough here to make it memorable for more than just the content?
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