It’s well known: using a simulator can save lives and accelerate learning.
Whether we speak of a flight simulator, a rowing machine or a surgical simulator, we isolate variables and control the environment, all that in the least costly manner. The learner can observe himself and test things out for a fraction of the price and without the risks usually associated with the activity itself.
Furthermore, the safe environment generated by simulation helps the learner become aware of the impacts of his behaviours with remarkable efficiency. The simulation provides quick feedback on the experience.
What if we draw the same parallel for work teams? Let’s say we are with a team that we will call: Team Eye of the Tiger. Growth is there. Managers are exhausted. More than 10 positions are vacant. They are signing deals for which they currently don’t have the workforce to deliver. The Director of operations is on leave of absence.
Can you picture it? Probably.
Would taking the Eye of the Tiger Team out of their usual work environment to go experience a full mind-body-heart simulation be worth it?
The leader figures that they don’t actually have the time because they barely have enough to breathe. The thing is, since his director of operations is on leave of absence, something has to change, otherwise, he will be the next one to leave.
Here are some questions that we can answer with a good simulation: are we actually as squeezed and under pressure as we think, both individually and collectively?
What if, with this simulation, we were able to understand that there is a gap between what the leader wants, what the team understands and what they are capable of doing together? What if we paid attention to reducing that gap by giving ourselves the means to observe our action in order to bring ourselves back when we have deviated from our vision?
You might tell me that’s a little deep for people under pressure. Here’s what I would say: With a simulation, we can quickly allow a team to experience chaos together and recognize their default settings under pressure. This way, the simulation allows them to own their experience and find new ways to work together, quickly.
For some teams, like it’s probably the case for the Eye of the Tiger Team, we don’t see the difference between a conversation where we name growth opportunities, a conversation where we analyze opportunities, and a conversation where we actually choose between opportunities. It’s all the same to them.
They don’t have clear criteria that allow them to explicitly make choices. All clients are excellent clients to them! There are lots of things going on in the leader’s mind. While he tells himself that it’s his responsibility to communicate his vision… he feels very lonely with that weight on his shoulders.
For managers under pressure, it’s hard to show solidarity because they were not part of the reflection in the first place. There was no time and no systematic way to ask each team member what they understand. They were not asked what those decisions were generating in them.
There were no scheduled retrospective meetings; they realized halfway through that they needed to make big adjustments. Often, it’s while we are doing the work that we realize the size of the project. With the initial plan in hand, which is no longer adequate, a team member might feel lonely and hesitate to go towards others by fear of slowing the team down with his problems.
With the simulation, the team can put words onto their experience and realize the cost of doing things the same way. When they become aware that the pressure they face is actually a result of their relationship to performance and the fears acting on them, there’s a big chance that our friends of the Eye of the Tiger Team will want to adjust their employer branding.
It’s possible to have high standards, without letting our results define us. Being less a victim of external circumstances and our unconscious ways of being means we become a little bit more in control of our experience every day.
Feel good first, be great second. Here is the essence of what we accomplish with our clients.
How will you know it's the right timing for you and your team to enter a simulation to challenge and observe your usual way of being together?