Archives for June 2014

Newsflash: The Process Doesn’t Revolve around You

You would be surprised – or maybe you wouldn’t – by how many people in your organization don’t understand how the organization accomplishes its work.

To be honest, it used to surprise us. We would run learning programs on a topic, like say, financial acumen, and it would never fail: People in the accounting department would say things like, “huh, I guess I should know these details about the balance sheet but I don’t.” And that’s coming from the guys in Accounting.

It’s an organizational myopia that we now recognize as commonplace. In fact, we empathize. We all have a tendency to view the world from the point of view of our own work, our own desk.

Like Galileo, leadership often involves delivering the unwelcome message that you, the individual, are not the epicenter of your organization’s process.

Fortunately, we at Blueline Simulations fare much better than Galileo for being the bearer of this message. In fact, we’ve found that giving people a view of the big picture is quite liberating, and a key step in generating organizational transformation.

And we have found that the best way to give that big picture is with an actual picture.

Using metaphors and a balance of both quantitative and qualitative data, we render the complex processes and work flows of your organization with a compelling degree of engagement.

Click Image to View Larger Version

Equipped with an enterprise view via a Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual, our learners report that:

  • I have a better appreciation for where I fit in the process.
  • Now I understand why the work those guys do in department X is so important.
  • I appreciate the difficult decisions that the leaders have to make to manage the many moving parts of this process.
  • I see ways to make my work more efficient, more focused, more optimized to the organization’s desired output.

Find out how a Blueline learning map can equip your people with an enriched understanding of your organization’s key processes and workflows. Contact us today for a demonstration.

Celebrate Summer with a Leadership Development Webinar on Demand

through these immersive simulations!


Did you miss our Spring Webinars?
Watch them now.

Discover our complete set of leadership development experiences first hand through a series on 50-minute webinars hosted by Blueline’s Managing Partner and Director of Leadership Innovations. These experiences are designed to enhance any leadership curriculum, can be deployed face-to-face or virtually, and are potent enough to capture the imagination of your most discerning leaders.


Business Strategy Skills for High-Potential Leaders

Executive Challenge™

A one-to-two-day simulation in which competing teams must make a broad range of strategic and operational business decisions in a fast-changing marketplace.

Performance Coaching Skills for High-Potential Leaders

PeopleSIM™ Performance Coaching

These immersive eSimulations challenges experienced and high potential leaders to address performance gaps and establish expectations in a realistic setting – while receiving immediate and continuous feedback. Optional classroom and/or virtual classroom elements can be added to create a fully transformative experience.

Business & Financial Acumen & Decision Making Skills

Business Challenge™

A one-day simulation in which competing teams strive to grow their businesses effectively by making investment decisions, funding their strategies, and evaluating their results in terms of real-world financial metrics. Participants prepare for this classroom or virtual classroom experience by building their basic financial knowledge through the Fluent in Finance™ program.

Talent Management Skills for First & Second Level Leaders

Management Challenge™

In this one-day simulation teams of learners compete to deliver the highest return on human resources by identifying, motivating, coaching and developing talent.

Contact us today to schedule a private demonstration.

Why Everything I Believed About eLearning is Wrong.

Part 2:

I stared at the number: 28%.

28% has long been established as a standard, an ever-present challenge to developers of traditional elearning programs. That’s the percentage of material that you can expect your learners to retain two weeks after your elearning program. Some refer to it as “the problem of forgetting.”

There’s a reason why I’m waxing philosophical about numbers and percentages. It’s because my world has been rocked.

What if I told you that I have uncovered a proven solution that is consistently delivering retention levels of 95%?

That’s right. 95%.

I will tell you what I said when I first learned about it: “I have dedicated my professional life to staying abreast of learning innovations. If this were true, I would already know about it!”

But that’s when things start to unravel a bit. Because, I hadn’t ever before focused on the “hidden truths” that I outlined in my previous blog entry. And without knowledge of those paradigm-shifting learning insights, how would I know that I needed to search for a better way? I wouldn’t, and I didn’t.

Until now, when I was faced with the two numbers. 28%. And 95%.

It seems that, in fact, a little-known company based in California, run by a PhD whose expertise is in the Neurobiology of Learning, is transforming Public Education in California by routinely delivering these results to his students.

“Ahh, well that explains it,” I mused, “because high school students aren’t the same as adult learners. Even if he has delivered these results they wouldn’t apply to what we do.”

But then I was presented with a third-party analysis demonstrating that surgeons prepping for board certification showed a 300% improvement with less study time than a control group made up of their peers.

I was hooked. I had to know how they do it.

Turns out, these secrets are not out of reach. They’re all hidden, right there in plain view, within the learning insights I described in the first part of this blog post.

Think of the solution as your very own “personal trainer,” whose job it is to isolate your weaknesses, and develop an exercise program just for you. The only difference is that in this case, instead of building muscle, you build connections in your brain.

Specifically, the fastest path to building those connections is an “exercise plan” that prioritizes exercises based on learner need, optimally spaces study sessions over time, and utilizes open-ended questions that the learner self-evaluates.

That’s the secret. That’s what you have to do to increase retention from 28% to 95%.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Here’s the challenge: in the corporate environment, efficiency and scale dictate that these personalized learning plans are all but impractical. I’ve spent much of my career delivering learning solutions to hundreds or thousands of students at a time.

That’s why I’m so excited about a new solution that I am extending now to my client partners in some of the world’s most influential organizations.  It’s a digital personal trainer that utilizes an algorithm that borders on artificial intelligence to deliver custom study sessions. And it exists.

I’m a believer, and I’ve got a story to tell. And I’d love to share it with you.

Look at the long-term retention rates of your elearning interventions. Then, don’t get depressed. Instead, give me a call. I’ve got some ideas that can lead your people to the 95% winner’s circle.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Deconstructing the Classroom Simulation

A True Confession

The other day I was sitting in a meeting listening to a presentation. Here are the things I confess to having done during that time (I had my laptop open under the auspices of note-taking):

  • Googled something the meeting leader said to better understand it
  • Emailed my son some help with an algebra problem
  • Read the headlines of the New York Times, Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal
  • Bought a swimsuit (it probably won’t fit)
  • Added a client event to my calendar and invited others to attend
  • Rescheduled that event when the client declined
  • Took notes on the presentation

I got to thinking – so what does this have to do with classroom simulations? Turns out — everything. Every day it seems our capacity and urge to multi-task grows. To keep pace with the dynamic business environment we operate in, we need to deal with many things at once, problem-solve and complete tasks simultaneously. Simulations are uniquely able to replicate and leverage this phenomenon in a training environment. It can move a classroom training experience from teaching x + y = z to ensuring an understanding of a(xy)+ b2 = z.

How do Simulations Work?

When I think about how simulations work to accomplish this higher order outcome, I come up with three main mechanisms. Effective simulations I’ve created or experienced feature:

  1. Non-sequential learning
  2. Realistic, complex situations
  3. Demonstration of cause and effect

Simulations don’t have a linear, topic-followed-by-topic agenda that transfers knowledge via a “age on the stage.” A simulation might offer a scenario, deliver some learning content on a few topics, provide access to resources (live, written, online or otherwise), then require participants to play roles, work together and use the information combined with their experience to solve a problem. Data may be missing and clues may be provided that don’t get used until later. Decisions may be required that change the course of the learning. Teams might outperform other teams. People might get frustrated and things might go wrong. Kind of like the real world.

When I’m creating a simulation, I like to sift through a lot of stories. The team and I listen to the client tell us what business problems happen when people don’t have the insights the simulation is supposed to deliver. We dig around for drama, intrigue, heartache, achievement and fiscal pain, and then we build them into the simulation. The learning experience has to feel real, or participants won’t care as much.

Simulations are a great way to leverage the experience of some participants to enhance the learning of others. When teams debate decisions and consider multiple courses of action they practice cause and effect thinking that is critical to successful business outcomes. By trusting in the ability (and desire) of humans to process more than one thing at a time, we have found that we can cover more content in a shorter amount of time than with a linear training approach. Senior level employees tend to engage and respond more positively to simulations than to traditional training experiences. One thing is certain; participants usually don’t have the time or desire to buy a bathing suit during a simulation.