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Learning to manage innovation and change through organizational and people dynamics simulations

Author: Angehrn, Albert A. INSEAD Area: Technology and Operations ManagementIn: Proceedings of the International Simulation and Gaming Association Conference, 2005 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 1-10.Type of document: INSEAD ChapterNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: The key to the approach illustrated in this paper is the use of Information Technology to model the dynamics of social contexts (including individual behaviors, group dynamics and cultural factors) to stimulate learning in complex domains such as innovation and change management. Adopting a ‘learning by doing’ philosophy, experiences conducted over the last years have demonstrated that it is possible to stimulate learning by enabling groups of managers to experience the challenge (and the frustration - let's not forget that more than 70% of large change/innovation projects fail!) of being responsible for the implementation of major change projects in realistically simulated organizational contexts. The resulting advanced simulations have shown to provide a powerful alternative approach to complement, substitute and extend traditional teaching approaches in a critical field such as change and innovation management, offering an opportunity to apply models from social and organizational dynamics to design advanced 'Experiential Adventures' with significant pedagogical effectiveness, to the extent that such simulations have been successfully adopted by universities such as Stanford, MIT, or Wharton to replace or complement their traditional approach to teach change to management students and executives. This article first provides the motivation for applying new educational approaches to address critical subjects such as change management. It then illustrates the concept of social simulations through an extensively validated example, the EIS Simulation, and finally discusses the applicability of the presented eLearning approach to the effective development of competencies of managers, but also of other target learners, such as engineers, citizens, or young adults, for which the extended exposure to modern video games generates a particularly high receptivity to this computer-enhanced approach to learning about effective interaction in social contexts.
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The key to the approach illustrated in this paper is the use of Information Technology to model the dynamics of social contexts (including individual behaviors, group dynamics and cultural factors) to stimulate learning in complex domains such as innovation and change management. Adopting a ‘learning by doing’ philosophy, experiences conducted over the last years have demonstrated that it is possible to stimulate learning by enabling groups of managers to experience the challenge (and the frustration - let's not forget that more than 70% of large change/innovation projects fail!) of being responsible for the implementation of major change projects in realistically simulated organizational contexts. The resulting advanced simulations have shown to provide a powerful alternative approach to complement, substitute and extend traditional teaching approaches in a critical field such as change and innovation management, offering an opportunity to apply models from social and organizational dynamics to design advanced 'Experiential Adventures' with significant pedagogical effectiveness, to the extent that such simulations have been successfully adopted by universities such as Stanford, MIT, or Wharton to replace or complement their traditional approach to teach change to management students and executives. This article first provides the motivation for applying new educational approaches to address critical subjects such as change management. It then illustrates the concept of social simulations through an extensively validated example, the EIS Simulation, and finally discusses the applicability of the presented eLearning approach to the effective development of competencies of managers, but also of other target learners, such as engineers, citizens, or young adults, for which the extended exposure to modern video games generates a particularly high receptivity to this computer-enhanced approach to learning about effective interaction in social contexts.

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