Peter Harrington, of Venture Simulations in the UK, presented an interesting talk on the value of simulation to enhance training and learning, particularly in entrepreneurial settings. One of the biggest challenges that managers and boards face is that they don't know what they don't know. When confronted with extreme or extremely rare situations, boards often don't know how to react or what a range of response mights might be.
Many directors and entrepreneurs don't like being talked to or talked at. They like to do and to try. Harrington asserted that experimentation is good, and that the use of simulators is very useful for discovering what we don't know. Simulations help new pilots (for example) learn to fly without the expense or danger of using a real aircraft. They also help experienced pilots test themselves in extreme situations to practice, to make mistakes and to learn how to cope. Harrington provided a graphic example. The safe landing of US Airways 1549 in the Hudson River—the so-called "miracle on the Hudson"—can be attributed to, in part at least, the many hours Capt "Sully" Sullenberger spent in the flight simulator every six months, training himself to handle himself and the aircraft in extreme situations.
Boards, entrepreneurs and managers may well be able to derive significant value from authentic simulation activities, to expose themselves and their company to extreme market forces, strategic options and other situations and, in so doing, improve their capability to respond well. Such application would require greater levels of engagement in the learning and development process however, but I suspect the time spent would deliver a payoff quite quickly. If you want to to effect an introduction to Peter Harrington (he runs a commercial business developing and selling simulation systems), I'd be happy to do so. Please note I have no commercial or other interest in this offer, it is simply an offer to refer.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.