a Virtual Business Environment
Invest in e-learning to reduce business risks!
Sounds right to you too?
In this post I discuss how e-learning practices can help you set up a virtual business environment for your organisation. I follow simply argumentation to illustrate how this helps you manage business risks and reduce their adverse effect.
Let me start by a case from the aviation industry. I presume you are familiar by the intensive simulation training that pilots undertake throughout their career. And why do they do that? Well, simulation training at the level offered today, ensures completeness and exceptionally high degree of realism. Each pilot follows training under multiple scenarios that would be impossible to experience under normal service. This training involves all aspects of flying down to crisis and disaster scenarios that one would never wish to experience! This is mission critical training for the aviation industry, since, in the public mind, it links directly to human life safety on board.
You may also be aware of the very high cost of the technology involved in flight simnulation – but hey, that’s nothing compared to the cost of flying and considering the benefit of reducing the overall business risks associated with a potential disaster.
So, in ralation to a plane pilot, what do all of us, working our daily job, have in common? I will argue that we have a job that is mission critical within our organisation. Should we fail in our daily tasks, the overall chain of processes depending upon our performance may jeopardize the mission of our organisation.
- Are you a project manager handling your project wrong? Will you exceed budget? Is your project overdue?
- Are you picking oranges? Is the crop over-ripe, never to reach the consumer in good shape?
- Are you a nurse, failing to observer high hygiene standards?
- Are you a customer servise agent, lacking interpersonal skills?
- … and so on…
In order to ensure mission success, people need to be well trained and well informed. They need experience, which is hard gained. As in the aviation case, training goes a long way, in every day business, towards ensuring quality and achieving success. And nowadays we talk about blended learning, combining regular instructor-led training, with e-learning, coaching and other activities, as suits each case best.
Here, we will focus on the e-learning component. Within a virtual business environment, e-learning content is all about living the experience! Trainees, who, most often are employees, are given simulated scenarios around their daily business. Role play and decision making engage the learner to think and deal with situations from the plain ordinary to the extraordinary.
We call it Gameware, it’s serious and it’s fun!
Along with coaching activities, Gameware aims at learning through our decisions and our mistakes. In this case, mistakes do not cost anything – they have no impact in real business – and that’s the beauty of it. Now, adding some linear, lecture mode e-learning – for instance webinar style – completes our arsenal of e-learning tools. Regular assessments add to common practices, often leading to certifications.
In this respect, Gameware is the core element of the Virtual Business Environment. Other elements you already now: an LMS to manage, at least, content delivery and tracking, a sound reporting tool and feedback for optimised human capital development planning.
What follows is examples of real e-learning courseware that, in various cases, has been part of a virtual business environment.
To start with, here is an example on customer service. Yes, this is a tyre shop, and the player is asked to handle customer requests – two of them – and answer the phone in between. There are just three control buttons:
- Make eye contact
- Verbally greet and …
- … Smile
The aim of the interaction is to remember to act promptly, courteously and with positive attitude to all customers, even to those on the other side of the phone line. At the end, feedback is given to the trainee in terms of the Potential Lifetime Revenue metric. Poor performance may even lead to negative PLR, in which case the potential customer not only will not return but will also prevent other from coming to our business.
Such interactions will be complemented by regular page-narrated content, which is intended to build solid soft skills background.
In another case, looking at the healthcare sector, avatars – yes, kind of like those from Hollywood! – are used to render the experience much more lively. The nurse trainee is handling a grumpy patient and again role play enhances learning effectiveness.
I our next case, the mission is about applied radiological response techniques in a medical research facility and has three distinct phases:
- approach a witness, who is clearly disturbed, and obtain information from him relating to which radioactive substance is stored in this facility.
- select the gear and equipment wear and hold
- seek the radioactive substance.
Decisions made in the game have an affect in subsequent steps.
So what happens if the player makes the wrong choice during his game, receives poor or no information from the witness or selects the wrong gear to enter the facility? It’s simple, the player cannot complete mission and fails. By repeating the activity, the player learns by his mistakes and is less likely to fall into errors in real action.
All cases mentioned above focus on mission critical parameters, some more, some less.
Within the Virtual Business Environment, Gameware is used to play multiple, real-life scenarios and prepare trainees for real-life events. What’s more, inside this safe environment, Gameware can be used to experience any crisis scenario, with no concern for false judgment by the learner. In fact, this is the ideal place to play, experiment and learn by own mistakes. With sound reporting, trainee decisions can be used for identifying knowledge and skill gaps and act with appropriate measures.
The overall aim is to minimize error and subsequently business risk.