Learning to Manage in VUCA Environments Using Simulations


For all talent leaders, the question of “How do you build strong, adaptable mindsets and create behavior change?” weighs heavy. One great tool for addressing questions around adaptability and volatility is a well-designed, competitive simulation. On our March 2019 Webinar, we discussed the importance of preparing leaders for VUCA environments and what tools are available to prepare learners for unforeseen challenges.

Below, you’ll find selected clips from the webinar. If you were unable to join, you can get all the important discussion by watching the videos below, or, if you were able to join, you can use the below as a quick refresher.

What makes something a “VUCA” context has changed in recent years. While the traditional examples persist, technology disruption has cascaded into nearly every facet of life, resulting in a need for an adjusted definition of “VUCA”. In the following clip, we discuss how that change impacts our lives at work.

One of the key differentiators between a well-designed simulation and other forms of real-world learning, like case studies, is that a simulation can provide insight into a variety of outcomes and a variety of impacts. Understanding the short and long-term effects of decisions is difficult if a learner isn’t able to explore those different outcomes. A simulation with high-quality debriefs gives an opportunity for that exploration.

We spend a lot of time in the L&D field working toward better markers of “retention”. While this is an important practice for much of what we teach (compliance, technical processes), there are some competencies, particularly in the area of leadership and people management, that need to move beyond “retention” and become a second-nature behavior change. In the next clip, we discuss what that distinction looks like and how it is that simulations can provide key opportunities for behavior change.

In the following clip, using Abilitie’s Executive Challenge as an example, we evaluate how a simulation can contribute to creating a holistic experience that empowers learners to improve their abilities to manage VUCA environments.

No matter how well-oiled a machine your workplace is, the moments in which the need for comfort with VUCA contexts crops up are nearly always unexpected. Abilitie simulates this element of a complex world by leveraging out External Events Engine. These “events” cover all forms of VUCA contexts and emerge unexpectedly to challenge participants to balance the work required of them each round with the immediate needs of the event.

While we believe that incorporating a well-designed simulation in your training programs is the most cost effective and impactful way to increase your learners’ comfort with VUCA environments, there are a few key behavior changes you as an L&D professional can embrace today that will help.

In the following video, we discuss how leaning into discomfort, surprising your learners, and leveraging effective competition can immediately have an impact on the way your participants grow through all your L&D initiatives.

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