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January 10, 2019 - Comments Off on Thought Leadership – Creating a positive difference

Thought Leadership – Creating a positive difference

Author –Jayashree G

Thought leadership

“Thought leadership” has become a buzzword today. Individuals and corporations alike are dipping their feet into the ocean that is thought leadership. However, is the meaning of thought leadership really clear? Is it part of Leadership or is it completely different, diverse and dynamic? Let us take a look at different definitions available:

Thought leaders are informed opinion leaders and “go-to“ people in their fields of expertise.”

A thought leader is an individual or a firm that is recognized as an authority in the field and whose expertise is sought”. Thought leaders are considered as well informed, well aware entities that are looked up to for their expertise and opinion.

A thought leader is someone who looks at the future and sets a course for it that others will follow”. Well, aren’t all leaders visionaries and take initiatives and do things in different ways and have many followers?

Thought leaders are people with ideas that merit attention” - Don’t we all think that every one of our ideas merit consideration?

Given these definitions, the concept of thought leadership has been nagging me for a very long time. I started reading up about it and discussing it with friends. If a person comes up with a thought or an idea, has a strong conviction about the idea and propagates the idea, has many people believing and following that idea - can he be called a thought leader? If such is the case, even a dictator like Hitler can also be called a thought leader because he had millions believing in his idea of anti-Semitism and following the idea. Was he a thought leader though? That is up for debate.

To me, thought leadership is more than just a different idea, a business tool, having a great following, having conviction or the amount of experience one may have. It is much more dynamic. It is about bringing a positive difference; making a positive impact. It need not necessarily be anything earth shattering. As author and leadership speaker Drew Dudley puts it in his TED Talk ‘Everyday Leadership’, “we have made entire concept of leadership into something about a great idea, changing the world. In this we might have lost those moments of smaller ideas and their essence.”

Thought leadership is an act of visualizing a very creative way of doing business/ finding solutions. It is about conceiving a future and bringing it to fruition in the real world. You need to have good knowledge of the industry, a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t, processes followed and ideas failed- an informed judgment to be made. It takes time and careful study of factors influencing the industry.

A more practical approach to this may be that anyone, irrespective of cadre/ stature, can be a thought leader. The concept need not necessarily be original. If you come up with a new idea, synthesize it, make it relevant and engaging, create a value addition and get the buying for it- may be that is how thought leadership works. For instance, an idea which makes the existing process/ service much simpler and more effective.

I have heard a story that a car manufacturing company came out with a model of a brand-new car with unique features. When it was time to bring it out to the showroom, they found out that it was just a couple of inches more in height than the gate way. Finally, they flattened all the tires and pushed the car out, without any scratches to the car. The idea came from the boy whose task was to fill the air in the tires. This could give a new dimension to how we look at thought leadership.

Some business enterprises consider it a good platform for Brand positioning in the market and critical for success. However, this may not be a simple platform. It may require a holistic approach, a thorough research and planning endeavor may be necessary before considering an idea as unique. Some factors to help may be:

  • Be clear about why you want to bring this strategy/ idea - what is the needle movement you want to see with this idea - as Simon Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy because of what you do but because they believe in why you do it”
  • Answer how your idea may make a difference - both qualitatively and quantitatively
  • Interact with your end user - share ideas - A Design Thinking mindset may help- see, hear and feel what people need
  • No ego trips for you - Open your mind to accept criticism - that’s when new ideas pop-up; listen carefully, observe and learn
  • Highlight the emotional angle of your idea, if there is one - even in this increasingly business-like environment, it holds its own place
  • Above all, if someone has to accept you as a thought leader, you must earn their TRUST

Let us look at some examples which stand out with creative ideas, making an impact on people and life-styles thus making them Thought Leaders:

Ritesh Agarwal - At the age of 21 years, Ritesh conceptualized and formed OYO rooms, whose business model is to tie up with small and medium hotels across India to provide budget accommodation to customers. The organization owns zero physical property yet has a higher valuation than luxury hospital brands in India such as Oberoi or Taj groups.

N R Narayana Murthy – The legendary founder of Indian IT Giant Infosys realized that India can be a great service provider. The result? Infosys, founded in 1981 became the first Indian company to be quoted in NASDAQ in 1999, giving employees stock options to the company and putting the Indian software industry on world map while pioneering many other flourishing companies. Imagine the power of that idea- IT industry has given jobs to 40 lakh people (direct and indirect) and the country earns a foreign exchange of $100 billion.

Dr Satyanarayan Pitroda - popularly known as Sam Pitroda, he is a reputed scientist and the inventor of the Electronic Diary in 1975, instrumental in revolutionizing the Indian Telephone industry. His company, C-dot laid telephone infrastructure across the length and breadth of India. His institution played a key role in training thousands of young engineers who later played key roles in the mobile phones era.

Dr Verghese Kurien - known as “Father of the White Revolution”, formed the first cooperative dairy farming society – Gujarat cooperative milk federation, where the farmers were the major share-holders. He made dairy farming India’s largest self- sustaining industry and largest rural employment provider. His venture paved way for many other states to establish their own milk federations.

Elon Reeve Musk: A global leader whose innovative ideas are on the verge of changing the face of technology and the way we live in future. Tesla, one of his most popular innovations, with fully electric vehicles, is a major step to reduce dependency on fossil fuel and emission of carbon di oxide. His path breaking Space-X aims at giving the experience of commercial space travel at reduced cost and even colonization of Mars - may be one more Noah’s Ark story in the making. The online payment giant PayPal is also Musk’s brain-child, conceived as in 1999 and later merged with Confinity. His inventions come with the hall-mark of superior technological innovation, making life easier for users- be it the idea of Solar city, or electric jet or OpenAI.

Walt Disney: Created the internationally loved brand and characters and captured millions of hearts worldwide. His unique way of entertainment and story- telling through animation enthralled young and old alike.  He paved way to numerous animation movies/shows in various countries, making it not only a wholesome entertainment, but also a huge corporate business.

Kerry Packer: Cricket is not the game it once was- the format, the equipment and the entire dynamics of the game have changed greatly in the past few decades. World Series Cricket was essentially about broadcasting rights and media magnet Kerry Packer was instrumental in swinging some important decisions of huge commercial impact. He took business risks, faced opposition from governments while these changes were implemented.  World Series Cricket popularized day-night format, played under flood lights with a white ball. Since then the aggressive game, use of microphone effects, and on-screen TV graphics have revolutionized the TV coverage of the game, taking the popularity of the game to new heights

In the future, with ideas such as ‘driverless cars’ taking centre stage, the experience of finding cabs, driving, traffic and driving will be very different - removing the need to haggle with drivers, automatic control over traffic and fewer parking hassles in big cities.

Thought Leadership, therefore, is not just a business strategy or a success story. It has a huge impact on socio-economic structures, marking a difference in life-styles and the well-being of people as illustrated in the above examples. There is primarily a human angle to all these revolutionary ideas.

Whether you use the concept of thought leadership as a marketing tool for your own organization, or as a strategy to better decision making or as a success statement in the industry- “Thought Leadership is not about being known... it is about being known for making a difference”



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  • January 7, 2019 - Comments Off on Enabling Learning the E-Way: The Promises and Pitfalls of eLearning

    Enabling Learning the E-Way: The Promises and Pitfalls of eLearning


    eLearning consists of a suite of learning methods that are enabled by combining technology with content in order to provide a rich learning experience to an individual.

    Historical Development

    Since the early ages of human progress, technology has been extensively leveraged for delivering content to learners: right from development of paper which allowed oral learning to be converted to written words that could then be passed on from one generation to other; development of a printing press that allowed large scale production of written content; mechanisation of the press to scale production of printed content; electronic devices such as radio, television and, later, computers that enabled more and more content to be delivered in far more engaging manner.

    Digitisation technologies developed in the early 70s allowed mixing of multiple modes of content - text, audio, visuals, and animation to make content richer and easy to communicate/comprehend. Compression technologies allowed this multi-model content to be delivered across variety of devices and channels. Today, large scale storage, high speed networks, super-fast processors and high resolution interfaces has made digitised content omni-present, on-demand and some what ostentatious.


    To a large extent human development can be attributed to continuous learning adopted by homo sapiens. This need was fulfilled over ages by all the progress mentioned above. However, during all this the learning method (or pedagogy as it is referred to amongst academicians) has predominantly been driven by a teacher. He (the teacher) was, most often, more informed and experienced in communicating with the learners so as to help them make sense of a world around them. This teaching method was based on a common requirement across a large group of people with its inherent diversity of comprehension and assimilation skills. As a consequence, some learners were unable to satisfy their need for enhanced inputs or higher order concepts. Ironically, the weaker learners were also not satisfied since the same inputs were unable to meet their requirements of pace or depth. However, since a teacher had to satisfy a larger population the breadth, pace and depth of content was pegged at an average learner. This lacunae was mostly filled by additional personal efforts on the part of learners from two extremes mentioned earlier. This was an accepted practice at institutions of middle and higher education, and offered workable outcomes.

    However, when it came to vocational training, particularly with an intention to enhance proficiency of a worker, the need to focus on individual learner was critical since it had a direct impact on the results delivered by an individual. This resulted in exploration of several mechanisms to offer learner oriented content. One such mechanism was identifying common needs of several learners and creating content or delivery or both especially for them. Another was to provide companions or “buddies” on the job who would be responsible for providing personalised inputs as relevant. A third method has been to let a learner select a third-party provider who could offer inputs as pertinent to this learner. These have been the most prevalent methods of providing customised / personalised learning. However, even these have their own shortcomings. The topmost being the pace of learning. As a learner one could not set the pace of one’s learning and therefore had to either work hard to catch up with the rest or be bored. Another challenge was availability of content as and when it was required to for a specific application. A third concern was contemporariness of content to keep pace with developments in a given body of knowledge.


    eLearning was conceptualised as a solution to meet the above mentioned expectations of a learner. It offered personalised (individualised), self-paced, highly engaging content delivered conveniently on multiple interfaces (mobile, desktop, tablets, TV etc) enabling a learner to consume this content as and when they wanted. The promise of eLearning was greatly exciting for all stake-holders. The early eLearning content was essentially derived from stock content taken from then prevalent learning methods, but digitised and with an added control of stop-start-play-repeat. It essentially worked on a need to control pace of content delivery. The innovators and early adopters found great value in it and therefore created a positive word-of-mouth influence on learners constituting the early majority. These group of learners found incremental value in early eLearning content, but were not completely satisfied with its ability to address the very challenges that led to its creation. Amongst the many concerns they had was the complete lack of compassion for the learner and the impersonal delivery of content. The common comment was “It feels very mechanical to learn like this!” Or “Doesn’t allow me to ask questions that would enhance my understanding.” This was quite a revelation. Something surely was not right, but eLearning per se had begun to take root. What was required was a better understanding of how to live up to the inherent promises of eLearning.

    eLearning 2.0

    Several studies on effectiveness of eLearning solutions indicated that the feedback 3456 amongst learners (as mentioned above) was consistent and did not vary by the quality, depth or breadth of content. It was then identified that while “self-paced” was a “necessary” requirement, it was not “sufficient.” Several research hours were spent in understanding what would contribute to the “sufficiency” criteria.

    One of the many causes that research , revealed was “learner inertia.” eLearning, because 78 it was meant to provide “self-pace” expected the learner to keep coming back to the content and continue from where she left it. This required discipline and diligence on learner’s part which was unfortunately not predictable or consistent. Research revealed 9 while learners were happy to learn on their own, they would quit the moment a hurdle was faced - a concept not understand, a context not explained, or an application not easily fathomed. They would look for hand-holding at that moment but didn’t find it. Education experts explored several new pedagogies to create alternatives for this hurdle

    Following were some of the models that emerged:

    • Live Streaming - a real person delivering to a real audience telecast to a wider group of people through internet and satellite transmission;
    • Live Virtual Classroom - an internet based classroom where everyone- teacher and learner, join this classroom and a session is delivered; Tutor-led eLearning - where a teacher records a real session to explain content supported by digitised content shared through various eLearning delivery mechanisms.
    • Blended Learning - where eLearning content is combined with a facilitator-led session, to provide enhanced scope for detailing,
    • And presently the most widely used “Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs),” where a recorded session delivered by an expert teacher is streamed to a virtual classroom of participants who simultaneously join this class from across geographies. While the facilitator is not present in real time, the participants are and, therefore, have an option to interact with each other. Assignments and tutorials, led by the facilitator, provide the impetus to keep continuous engagement.

    This was the emergence of the new era of eLearning. As learners became more adept at using above mentioned methods, and as their need for “Just-In-Time” learning went up, their expectations also went up . Learners were unwilling to be tied to their workstations 13 or laptops to consume their content. With tablets and mobile devices become increasingly capable, the demand for “content-on-the-go” has increased. Further, to provide for restricted screen sizes, the overall content-mix is required to be redefined.


    The current demand from learning is content adapted to “attention-span” of the learners. Increasingly, the various social channels of engagement have reduced the consumption quantum per. “Bite-sized,” “Mobi-sodes,” “Nuggests-of-Wisdom” are the new norm in eLearning. Moreover text is slowly being replaced with visuals / animations / audio. Gamification is another buzzword in eLearning. It essentially describes the creation of a competitive atmosphere amongst people consuming eLearning by offering them virtual or social credits, leaderboards to check competition, peer-recognition labels (stars, hierarchy of expertise, influence-levels etc.), real privileges on achievement of milestones, recognitions, rewards and the works


    A former colleague in an article he wrote while at the Tata Management Training Centre, 14 Pune, argues that organisations endeavouring eLearning must pay attention to the following in order to make their eLearning journey relevant and deliver return on investment:

    • Defining short and long-term objectives for eLearning
    • Identifying learner profiles and their learning styles
    • Ascertaining and developing eLearning worthy content
    • Adaptive delivery mechanisms for eLearning
    • Evaluation and continuous enhancements

    Que Sera.. Sera

    As the song goes “… whatever will be.. will be” applies to eLearning too. With new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) , Natural 15 Language Processing (NLP), Sentiment Analysis and Cognitive Computing, we might have situations similar to the very popular movie “The Matrix” where the hero is able to learn to fly a helicopter just by directly downloading a program to his brain. While this might sound far-fetched so was flying once upon a time, but look how far we have come. Happy to hear from you what you think “…will be?”

    The author is a freelance consultant in the area of technology, innovation and leadership and regularly facilitates workshops for middle and senior management on the topics of Innovation Culture, TRIZ, Design Thinking, Innovation Tools and Methods, Business Simulation based sessions for Managerial Performance enhancement etc. He can be reached on LinkedIn:


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    2 Beetham, H. (2005). e-Learning research: emerging issues?. ALT-J, 13(1), 81-89

    3 Noesgaard, S.S. & Ørngreen, R. (2015). The effectiveness of e-learning: An explorative and integrative review of the definitions, methodologies and factors that promote e-Learning effectiveness. Electronic Journal of e-Learning. 13. 278-290.

    4 Strother, Judith B.(2002). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of e-learning in Corporate Training Programs. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, apr. 2002. ISSN 1492-3831. Available at: <>. Date accessed:25th November 2018. doi:

    5 Zafra A., Gibaja E., Luque M. and Ventura S.,(2011)“An evaluation of the effectiveness of e-learning system as support for traditional classes," 7th International Conference on Next Generation Web Services Practices, Salamanca, 2011, pp. 431-435. doi: 10.1109/NWeSP.2011.6088218

    6 Thalheimer, W., (2017). Does eLearning Work? What the Scientific Research Says! Retrieved from http:// Available at: <https://> Date accessed: 25th November 2018

    7 Rabak, L., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2006). Acceptance and resistance to corporate e-learning: A case from the retail sector. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 21(2), 115-134.

    8 Kundi, G. M., & Nawaz, A. (2014). From e-Learning 1.0 to e-Learning 2.0: threats & opportunities for higher education institutions in the developing countries. European Journal of Sustainable Development, 3(1), 145-160.

    9Abramenka, V. (2015). Students’ Motivations and Barriers to Online Education. Masters Theses. 776.Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25th November, 2018.

    10 Mccombs, Barbara & Vakili, Donna. (2005). A Learner-Centered Framework for E-Learning. Teachers College Record - TEACH COLL REC. 107. 1582-1600. 10.1111/j.1467-9620.2005.00534.x.

    11 “New eCourse/e-book bundle: Learner-Centered Pedagogy for Library Instruction", American Library Association, September 14, 2017. Available at: <>, Date accessed: 24th November, 2018

    12 “eLearning Pedagogy” Available at: <>. Date Accessed: 24th November 2018

    13 Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47.

    14 Pandit, M.P. (2014), “Corporate e-Learning: Executing e-Learning Strategy to Build a Sustainable e-Learning Environment_Management Brief Part One” Applied Research@TMTC (AR@T)

    15 Pappas, Christopher (2017),“Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence: The Future Of eLearning” Available at: <> Date accessed: 26th November 2018

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  • December 10, 2018 - Comments Off on What is most lacking in leadership training?

    What is most lacking in leadership training?

    A 2017 Training Industry report stated that the annual expenditure on corporate learning, in the United States alone, was US $90 Billion. The global figures are significantly higher. According to Bersin by Deloitte, over 35% of the total corporate learning investment is on leadership development alone. Impressive figures, right? But what do we have to show for it?

    Here are some truths:

    1. Leadership development cannot be taught in a classroom
    2. Leadership training is not effectuating enough positive change to justify the investment
    3. Organizations continue to feel that the investments in leadership development aren’t necessarily resulting in an inspired workforce, that is, leader effectiveness scores continue to be low

    The question that stands – is it worth continuing to invest such large sums of money in leadership development? The answer is, yes. It is not that organizations are investing too much or too little in their development initiatives. The problem lies in the construct of the training initiative – are you employing the right methodologies optimal for leadership development?

    Let’s look at the agenda of a typical leadership development program:


    To the naked eye, there appears to be nothing wrong with this snapshot. After all, it appears to cover the basic tenets of leadership development – personal commitment, peer interaction and feedback, and coaching. Then why is the return on investment nowhere close to the expectation?

    The answer lies in reading between the lines to understand what is ‘MISSING’ in leadership development? To answer this question, there are FIVE crucial elements missing in traditional leadership training efforts:


    We’ve established that leadership roles are high stakes, and therefore, leadership development initiatives are high stakes as well. Where current leadership trainings fail is in not allowing leaders to hypothesize, experiment and practice in safe learning environments. In fact, some studies have shown that only 10% of corporate training is effective, and it’s not because the content of the training programs is bad. As a result, often, leaders are underprepared to manage the challenges of their roles and create very little positive or lasting impact.

    The reality is that the modern workforce needs and promotes leaders at every level. The lack of experience is not a good enough reason to perform poorly as leaders. In the digital age, potential needs to quickly convert to high performance. To do so, one needs accelerated learning and practice. Practice entails making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Unfortunately, making mistakes while learning on-the-job can produce catastrophic results.

    What are organizations doing to mitigate this challenge? Currently, not much. LinkedIn's first annual Workplace Learning Report highlights that only 8% of CEOs see business impact from leadership training programs, while only 4% of CEOs see a clear ROI. Learning experts – what are you going to do about this?


    Current leadership development programs are taking the initiative to include peer feedback and expert coaching. Seems impactful enough, right? Wrong! Where current leadership trainings fail is in realizing that the feedback given is highly subjective and riddled with biases, based on experience and exposure. Peers and coaches provide learners with feedback based on what they “FEEL” is right or appropriate, without any real scientific data to back their claims.

    Subjective feedback doesn’t provide much help in creating demonstrable, impactful and sustained changes. Instead, they often cause learners to get defensive, justifying their actions or even simply stating that they will reflect over it. In reality, these suggestions are never implemented.

    What helps leaners create positive change is in seeing the impact that their actions create, which, in discussion, is purely hypothetical. Without clear impact, how does one justify the time, money, energy and effort poured into leadership development programs? 


    As stated above, leadership development cannot effectively take place in a classroom or through discussions. Action is a key driver of leadership development. Where current leadership trainings fail is in limiting learning to the boundaries of a classroom or an online course. In reality, leadership training is no different from a professional college course that requires an internship. The internship allows students to experience what they learn in live environments. It is here that they learn the accurate nuances of their chosen paths.

    This is also true for leadership development, which is entirely about managing people, change, business and innovation, none of which can be taught within the boundaries of a training program. Do you include on-site activities and exposure in your leadership development interventions? To clarify, by on-site activities, we mean implementing learning in the learner’s actual role and business, understanding the impact of their actions and learning to manage the consequences of these actions effectively and efficiently.

    Let’s not be naïve to believe that such a suggestion is practical and easily implementable. It does require significant logistics and tactical alignment of learning and business, which can very easily disrupt business. A reasonable alternative to delivering similar results as on-site exposure is the implementation of simulations in leadership development.


    Leaders are like finger prints, in that no two leaders are alike. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach is redundant in leadership development. Unfortunately, most current leadership trainings adopt this approach, which easily justifies the lack of clear returns on the learning investment.

    Coaching seems the perfect answer to this dilemma. However, the advent of the digital age necessitates agility and acceleration. As a result, coaching is not always an optimal solution, as coaching is a long and sometimes arduous journey. In travel lingo, coaching is the long train ride through the scenic countryside in a time where people prefer flights to save time. In other words, coaching is a luxury learning methodology that most learners cannot afford to indulge in today; definitely not as a standalone development methodology.

    The reality remains, however, that modern leaders need hyper-personalized development plans that cater specifically to their challenges, needs and expectations. So, the question to learning professionals is, ‘Are your leadership programs catering customized to the learners’ context’? To give perspective on the gravity of this question, 62% leaders believe that their leadership programs don’t effectively meet their learner’s needs. Where do you stand on this spectrum?


    One of the biggest oversights in current leadership training is that there is too much internal discussion. The leadership community is comparatively small, and within that as well there are clusters and pockets of conversation. Unfortunately, leaders stick to their own cohorts. These cohorts are sliced and diced multiple different ways – generationally, industry-specific, and geographically are just some of the ways the leadership community is split up. It has nothing to do with their leadership capabilities.

    This behavior percolates into leadership training as well. Feedback and coaching happens within the cohort. However, we have already established that leadership is about people management, right? Where’s the voice of the people? Let’s be realistic – there is very little honest feedback that goes to leaders from the people they manage. This is either from fear of getting on the leader’s bad side, or because of respect for their age and experience. The minute your team tells you exactly what they think about you is when honest conversations are taking place. This scenario is a long shot, because it needs a lot of effort – building a trusting relationship with the team free from all conditions based on how one might feel. This is not unattainable.

    Leadership training, however, does not make allowances for this. Therefore, often leaders are left with they “belief” they are doing wrong or what their peers are telling them. Well, what are your teams saying about you as a leader? Mind you, we’re not talking about a survey form either. Do your leaders know how their actions affect the people they lead? Well, it’s high time they do.

    Think it is time to revisit your leadership development training methodology? It absolutely is! We recommend simulation-based learning. To know more about modern leadership development solutions within your organization, get in touch with us at KNOLSKAPE.


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  • December 7, 2018 - No Comments!

    Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 3

    Author – Swati Kamath| Product Marketing Manager


    In the final part of this series, we look at the last few commonly believed myths about simulations. We address some of the most outdated beliefs that exist and need to quickly be put to rest, as these beliefs obstruct the acceptance and implementation of simulations in modern workforce learning.

    Myth: Simulations require a computer room

    Simulations are no longer a desktop application. In fact, most modern simulations are cloud-based and can be accessed anywhere and anytime so long as users have a technological device and an active internet connection, which most corporate learners do. Therefore, the concept of having to assemble in a physical space such as a computer room is archaic and redundant. Anyone telling you otherwise, be it simulations for learning or even as a means of assessing capabilities, has yet to update themselves on the far-reaching capabilities of simulation-based learning and assessment.

    In reality, modern simulations transcend the boundaries of time, space and distance to accommodate the virtual learner, giving everyone equal opportunity to develop their capabilities, improve productivity, contribute actively to business development and accelerate their own career progression. Especially for an organization whose workforce is extremely dispersed and largely virtual, simulations negate any excuse against professional development. It no longer matters that you have five employees in Poland and Russia, and 20,000 employees in the United States, China or India. Every single employee can now be given equal privilege of learning at their own pace and convenience, with the same learning experience as everyone else. What more can one ask of a learning methodology?

    Myth: Simulations are difficult to integrate into the course and complicated to facilitate

    Simulations are not here to replace existing learning practices and methodologies. In fact, they serve their purpose best by complementing what already exists, as they provide the service of practice and coach learners through their challenges and give them the confidence to implement skills in their real-life work environments. Great simulations are based on core frameworks and bring theory to life.

    Several of our partnerships at KNOLSKAPE are based on license sales, allowing partners to enhance their learning programs and the experience for their learners. After all, to coherently and comprehensively understand and implement a concept or skill, one must know all the nuances – what, why, how, when, and where? While PowerPoint decks, activities and discussions take care of the cognitive aspects of knowledge and skill building, simulations help with the behavioral component of it.

    Therefore, a crucial step in the process of incorporating simulations in learning is ensuring that the facilitators are equipped with facilitating the simulation experience and seamlessly flowing through the course content while corroborating it with the simulation experience. In fact, the feedback, reports and analytics provided by simulations help facilitators create personalized learning experiences for diverse learners at the same time.

    Myth: Learning outcome is difficult to measure

    It is important to remember that a simulation is very similar to a game. Often, learners appear to be so caught up in the fun and immersive nature of the simulation that it is believed that they don’t necessarily focus on the learning that they get out of it. However, platform technology has made it easy for simulation designers to highlight many things – the actions of the learners within the simulations, the resultant impact of these actions, a shift in performance based on feedback and the necessary areas of improvement and measures that learners need to take to improve. This information can be collated in the form of an analytic report, further useful for creating personalized development plans or to chart out employee roles and responsibilities.

    Since the learner performance on the simulation is measured so objectively, it becomes the basis for L&D teams and managers to corroborate performance on real life roles and responsibilities. Why? The validity of the reports and analytics comes from the fact that learners are expected to achieve certain objectives within the simulation that are closely tied to real time objectives that learners are required to meet in their actual roles.

    For example, within a leadership simulation, a learner is expected to improve the performance, skill and motivation of their simulated teams to meet the business targets set out for the team, which is a crucial responsibility for leaders in the real world. Therefore, their performance in the simulation is closely tied to their performance at their real jobs. The analytics recorded helps the organization identify the gaps and challenges that a leader may face in their roles, should there be a discrepancy in the learners’ results within the simulation and at their jobs. What better a result can be expected from a simulation-based learning methodology?

    Myth: Learning outcome is difficult to measure

    Case-in-point, Leadership Development. Most organizations focus on developing leadership capabilities of predominantly their first-time managers. Why? If you’ve been in a leadership position for long, you must have mastered it by now, right? Wrong! The modern workforce is very dynamic, comprising people with various social styles, interests, motives and ways of working. It is also the most generationally diverse workforce ever to exist. Therefore, no skill exists today that is too mature to be learnt, leadership capabilities specifically.

    At KNOLSKAPE, we conduct open simulation-based workshops to help decision makers experience simulation-based learning the way that their end users do. Many of these decision makers are senior leaders who come with decades worth of leadership experience. Interestingly, in almost every one of these sessions, we have had senior leaders say to us, “The simulation was remarkable. I always prided myself on being a good leader, able to manage any situation or challenge that comes my way. Playing the simulation, I realized the mistakes I am making, and I walk away today with clarity and means to manage my teams better”. If you won’t take it from us, believe in the testimonies of these seasoned leaders.

    We have now thrown light on ten common myths that are held about simulations. Hopefully, we have managed to change some perceptions enough to enable you to explore the simulation method for your corporate learning practices.

    To know more about business simulations, their impact on deep learning and how to implement simulation-based learning within your organization, get in touch with us at KNOLSKAPE.


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  • December 5, 2018 - Comments Off on Leadership lessons learnt at KNOLSKAPE

    Leadership lessons learnt at KNOLSKAPE

    Author: Mariam Taqui Ali | Senior Associate - KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre

    KNOLSKAPE_Management_Team“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - Simon Sinek

    This blog piece is a personal account of my interactions with the leaders at KNOLSKAPE, a place that means to me what Hogwarts meant to Harry Potter. Potterheads reading this post would probably know what I mean, but for those who are not sure where this is headed, let me break it down for you.

    I’ve been at KNOLSKAPE for over a year now. In this time, I have said several times that KNOLSKAPE is a ‘great place to work’. The common responses from friends and acquaintances for that statement were that ‘I am being naïve’, ‘I don’t have enough experience to understand’, ‘I have rose-tinted glasses on’, or simply that ‘it’s the corporate world, nothing is as it seems’. I’m happy to share that I was right and it’s definitely a great place to work at – certified too! So, yes, KNOLSKAPE is a fabulous place to be, to work, to grow and to learn, especially from those who lead.

    I have worked across and with various teams in the time I have been here, and had a fair share of interactions with the leaders who walk the talk and make KNOLSKAPE a great place to work. Along the way, I have learnt valuable lessons on leadership that will forever stay with me, because I have seen key leadership traits and practices being embodied by our leaders.

    My first lesson in becoming a better leader came from our Founder & CEO, Rajiv Jayaraman, someone who always smiles or waves at you when you walk past him in the corridors or across the cafeteria. One occasion that stands out in my memory is from my early days at KNOLSKAPE. As a writer, it is sometimes difficult to be in noisy spaces, and I had trouble collecting my thoughts to create coherent sentences. Therefore, I would look around for quiet places in the office where I could pull my thoughts together in peace and write. Rajiv spotted me cooped up in a room one day, clacking away on the keys of my laptop, and stopped to talk to me. Never would I have expected the outcome that ensued from simply explaining my situation - I would get personal updates from Rajiv on Slack, alerting me of vacant meeting rooms to work in peace. Once, he even dropped a message saying, “I’m in Mumbai. Feel free to use my cabin. Be the CEO for the day!” I realised then that being a leader is not simply about being a face, but taking the time out to be personable and involved, making an effort to be there for your people and be mindful of their needs.

    I learnt my second lesson during a game of Secret Santa, where my Christmas Angel was Dileep, KNOLSKAPE’s Head of Finance – a quiet, serious, and focused professional whom I had barely interacted with at the time of this activity.  I was also apprehensive about setting my angel a task as I was unsure if asking a senior leader to participate in the Christmas fervour and games would be appropriate. A little queasy and at the same time wanting to be an active Santa, I shared a task. And lo, much to my pleasant surprise – he completed the task I had set for him! That’s when I realised that even leaders have inhibitions and vulnerabilities. The true mark of a great leader, however, is the willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone and going with the flow. To get down from the mantle and be there with your people and being a part of the little things that make them happy is really a game changer.

    Lesson three: One would think that as the Head of People Practice at KNOLSKAPE, and a lawyer by training, Raksha Shenoy would be someone stern and difficult to approach. My interactions with Raksha, however, have varied from talking about her impeccable sense of style to running trainings in organizations, and everything in between. What has always stood out for me is the candour with which she handles all employee concerns. No matter what issues that employees face, she will find a way to accommodate and resolve them. She is often heard humorously saying, “If nothing else works, we will launch a strike against the HR team!” She taught me that, as a leader, you can’t be defensive and jump the gun. Playing it cool and understanding the real issues of your people is necessary for things to run smoothly. Sometimes winning them over means to let go of your position and role to address and handle what is truly at stake.

    The next leader on my list is Madan Panathula. The world knows him as a thorough professional and a Rockstar facilitator. At KNOLSKAPE, he is considered the funniest person around, constantly having everyone in splits. For me, he has been like a lighthouse. His calm presence and guidance have helped me sail through my ups and downs. I could always turn to him for any sound advice and rest assured that my problem would be solved if I ever broached it with him. As a leader, it is important for you to be approachable and that your people can connect with you. Leaders must be there in entirety and not merely words; people need to know that they can bank on someone and have this person to depend on, no matter what the situation may be.

    It is often said that as leaders should practice what they preach and only one man comes to my mind when I think of it - Shobhit Mathur, the Chief Business Officer at KNOLSKAPE and my boss’ boss. Shobhit is a real task-master and pleasing him is a near impossible task. For his team, being appreciated by him is considered akin to winning an Oscar, and I’m humbled that I received one in my little time here. Shobhit’s real talent, however, is in bringing out the best in others, and he does so by example. If that means getting his hands dirty and working to fix or improve something, he will do it, no questions asked. If we were to use a leadership checklist, you can be assured that Shobhit would make it to all.  As a leader, leading by example is important, to lend authenticity and being the person that you would want your people to look up to. Building that trust and credibility is crucial to being a leader and Shobhit commands all of that and more.

    We would often think that leaders are the ones who you see as the face of a company or a brand. Being at KNOLSKAPE, I realised there are some leaders who will push you to the fore and work in the background ensuring that things run without hiccups. I’m talking about Vijay Kalangi, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of KNOLSKAPE, who is happy working to ensure that the company develops and builds high quality learning products, and letting Rajiv take the reins in the spotlight. As leaders it is also important to be able to keep away from the spotlight. It requires you to allow your work to speak for itself and trust another to take the legacy forward.

    Though my interactions has been brief with this man, Ritish Reddy is a star leader at KNOLSKAPE. He started the APAC operations and is now heading the U.S.A market. He’s known for his ability to turn things around and being cool in the face of trouble, a knack for risk taking, consultative selling and creating opportunities. My first interaction up close was to plan for a LinkedIn campaign to tap on the U.S.A market. He came forward and asked me what needs to be done for the same. Right then, I understood that as leader, you may not have all the answers but being able to let the other person know and allowing them to lead you for a change is also necessary.

    Next in line is Sethu – known for his quick tongue, wit and wisdom. He introduced himself to me as ‘Hi, I’m Sethu, part of the BD team.’ Immediately another colleague commented saying, “so humble”. I wondered what was happening and then I came to know that this was the man responsible for heading all the operations PAN-India. It was then I received the key leadership lesson - leaders need to be humble and be grounded to the realities of life. It is what takes them forward and draws others towards them to follow like moth to fire.

    Last but not the least, my leadership learnings would not conclude if I didn’t add one more name to this list, Swati Kamath. My manager, boss, coach, mentor…basically the all in one. Functioning by the logic, when in doubt at KNOLSKAPE, ask Swati. My go-to person for all things. And I realised the reason for her being my soundboard and someone I completely look up to and am inspired by her empathetic personality. Leaders need to be empathetic. Understanding your people and being there for them and giving them the chance to grow and understand is pivotal to being a true leader.

    At KNOLSKAPE, I found my leaders and the traits that all leaders must emulate and exhibit. My journey here may have concluded but these memories and lessons will last me a lifetime. Do Let me know your thoughts if you feel the same about your leaders and what do you take home?

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  • November 30, 2018 - No Comments!

    Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 2

    Author – Swati Kamath| Product Marketing Manager

    Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 1

    Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” These words are incredibly important for the workforce of the digital age to remember. Why? The volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the ever-changing business landscape means a career riddled with challenges. The question is of whether you are going to face and overcome these challenges or shy away from them, although the latter is equivalent to extinction.

    In such a case, it is imperative that the necessary skills are developed quickly. Time is of the essence, without learning or retention being compromised. Therefore, simulations play a crucial role in helping build sustained learning. Given this context, it is pertinent for the business world to scale up the use of simulations in corporate learning. To ensure this outcome, we address three more myths commonly held about simulation-based learning. (Read: Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 1)

    Myth: Simulations are too difficult

    To paraphrase Roosevelt, ‘Nothing worth having is easy’. Does this mean that simulations are indeed difficult? Perhaps at some point and in some ways. To my mind, there are two reasons that simulations can be viewed as difficult:

    1. A discomfort in using technology
    2. Obscurity of concept

    Let’s dig a little deeper to debate the merit of this belief that simulations are difficult.

    On the one hand, Simulations are technology-based solutions, and a discomfort in using technology may be an obstacle in simulation-based learning. After all, simulations have been around for nearly a century, while technology has been commonplace only in the last two decades or so. Therefore, there might have been some truth to this myth, but this was a long time ago. Since the advent of social media, mobile phones, and the internet, technology has become deeply embedded in our lives. Therefore, there are very few people who lack the understanding and comfort of handling technology. There are even fewer such individuals in the corporate world. Given the audience, simulation technology is definitely not too difficult to navigate.

    An area where a belief that simulations are too difficult could be well-founded is in the lack of understanding of a concept, i.e., when you don’t understand the cognitive aspects of a topic, it can be difficult to implement it. However, research and experience both suggest that the best way to learn something is by doing. While it may seemingly take additional time and effort to do so, the resultant effect is one of sustained knowledge and skill development.

    Myth: Learners are only interested in the competition aspect

    It is true that a simulation comprises several elements of gamification and game-like mechanics to ensure that the activity is fun, engaging and immersive. As a result, simulations often look very similar to computer games, with points and leaderboards. Therefore, it may seem that learners get swept away by the competitiveness of the game-like simulation. An interesting observation that those who have experienced simulations before would have made is that often, learners discuss the simulation and their performance on the simulation long after the activity has been completed. In doing so, they compare notes on the actions they took, the results they got, and the strategy they employed in achieving the objectives set out for them within the simulation. Therein continues learning.

    However, more credit must be given to the simulation construct. Two crucial features of superlative simulations are great instructional design and a concrete underlying theoretical framework. Without them, a simulation just doesn’t serve its purpose. What purpose? Simulations are designed for learning. While they successfully keep the learner engaged and excited, a simulation does not create impact unless the objective of the simulation is achieved, which is that of change – in knowledge, skill and mindset. This is where facilitators play a significant role. With this, we address another myth, tied closely to this one – that simulations make the role of instructors redundant.

    Myth: Simulations make the role of instructors redundant

    Simulations propagate the idea of learning by doing. As a result, the learning process and experience is hyper-personal and puts the learner at the centre. The fear, here, is that the role of the instructor becomes redundant, putting them out of a job. While instructors have now been replaced by facilitators, this is one myth that is still quite difficult to debunk. As the nature and quality of simulations improve, we don’t know what impact they will leave in their trail.

    Take, for example, Stephen Gillett. For those who have never heard of him, Gillett is famous for being the youngest executive on the C-suite of Starbucks Coffee when he took on the role of Chief Information Officer. Since then, he has moved companies’ multiple times, creating positive waves wherever he goes. But, why are we talking about him? In an interview with CNN-Business, Gillett once credited the online video game World of Warcraft with helping him become the CIO of Starbucks.

    Gillett’s story gives us an insight into the impact that gamed-based or gamified activities have on personal development and learning. Unfortunately, not everyone has the foresight and analytical ability to understand the learning and employ it elsewhere, as Gillett did. Herein lies the crucial responsibility and importance of a facilitator – to coach learners through the simulation activity, help them interpret their results, highlight their learning, and develop action plans based on learning to improve productivity and efficiency in the learners’ real-time professional roles. Therefore, the need for a facilitator continues to exist, albeit in a slightly different manner than as trainers and instructors. Whether instructors continue to be effective at their roles depends on their willingness and ability to adapt to the changing learning methodology.

    In the last part of this series, we look at the final four myths that are commonly held about simulations.

    To know more about business simulations, their impact on deep learning and how to implement simulation-based learning within your organization, get in touch with us at KNOLSKAPE.


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  • November 28, 2018 - No Comments!

    What it takes to be a good coach

    Authors: Swati Kamath| Product Marketing ManagerMariam Taqui Ali | Senior Associate - KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre

    What it takes to be a good coach

    A man walks in the hospital room and approaches another on the bed, who is battling bone cancer. He inquires after him and then tells him that he wants him in the training camp - on the field. Some months later, that is exactly what panned out. The man who walked in the hospital was Don Shula (former professional American football coach and player, best known as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins), and the man on the bed was Mike Westoff, special teams’ coach for the Dolphins. Mike understood his Coach’s doing, “He treated me the way I could be, not the way I was, and that made all the difference in the speed of my recovery.”

    The anecdotal evidence above brings to light the impact of coaching and what a splendid coach can bring to the table. In this blog we have unveiled the seven traits that make a good coach.

    1. Empathy
      The ability to place one’s self in another’s shoes and seeing their point of view is the embodiment of a good coach. Without this, no coach can come very close to being effective. The presence of empathy in one’s character goes a long way. After all, it is a much desired ability in coaches, leaders, and all-round holistic individuals.
      For a coach, empathy is the basis of building a rapport and understanding the coachee’s situation, roadblocks and what is preventing him/her from growing and going forward. Empathy is the key to make a meaningful relationship.
    1. Patience
      ‘Patience is a virtue’ is a saying that we often hear. The practice of patience is, unfortunately, not as common. As a coach, being patient with the coachee and giving him/her time – to accept a situation, to form realizations, identify problems, and actively move towards a resolution is imperative. This is also the most challenging test of becoming a good coach.
    2. Being a good listener
      You may wonder – ‘how does listening help in coaching?’ In reality, this is the most important behaviour of a good coach. Being a coach is not about resolving an individual’s problems. A good coach understands that there are strong walls or obstacles preventing individuals from being the best versions of themselves. These obstacles are usually a result of mental or emotional circumstances. An empathic coach understands that the key to progress is in first dealing with the mental and emotional strains and barriers. Often, this means allowing a coachee to parrot the same concerns repeatedly. For a coach, the ability to listen patiently is key, because a good coach understands that individuals want to feel heard. Therefore, a good coach must be able to both understand and utilize appropriate verbal and non-verbal cues to help individuals manage and overcome their obstacles. Being a good listener is also incredibly important because many times, individuals aren’t able to communicate what they mean. Being a good listener allows coaches to read between the line, infer meaning, and assist their coachees appropriately.
    3. Consistency
      Mastering empathy, patience and being a good listener will only take a coach so far if consistency in behaviour is not maintained. A good coach needs to be consistent in his time, interest, behaviour, opinions, feedback, and suggestions, ensuring that their own worries, tensions, deadlines and obstacles do not interfere with the coaching process. Making an effort every day, day after day so that the coachee reaches his/her potential and achieve the goals that you both had set out at the beginning of the practice is the basis of coaching consistency.
    4. Active involvement
      Coaching requires the coach to have a hands-on, minds-on involvement with the coachee. This doesn’t mean that a coach needs to be with the coachee every second of every day. Active involvement implies being attuned to or updated with the coachee’s situation and progress. Only then can a coach become aware of the changing needs of the individuals they are helping. Active involvement could imply activities such as – daily phone calls or emails, participating in the coachee’s life at regular intervals, weekly conversations, record and discuss signs of progress and obstacles to progress, etc. are some of the ways in which coaches can be actively involved.
    5. Collaborative
      A good coach always remembers that the coaching process is a collaborative effort, with equal efforts put in by both sides to achieve the predetermined targets. A coach is not a trainer or assessor who dictates what, where, when, how and why individuals must do to achieve their goals. A good coach understands and makes the coachee aware of their strengths, areas of improvements, expectations, potential and motivation. In turn, coachees cannot be passive parties to the coaching process. Coachees are expected to act on the mutually agreed-upon activities, flag of challenges and report progress. Collectively, both parties then decide the next course of action till the goal is met.
    6. Facilitative
      Coaches are also facilitators, the very definition of the role being that of a helper. Understanding their role of facilitators, good coaches always ensure that their coachees are at the centre of the coaching process, and they are merely the catalysts to change. While all the traits require coaches to be active and participative, this particular trait highlights the need for coaches to also be able to take a step back and watch their coachees achieve their goals, while pitching in when needed.

    Coaching is an important skill today, with individuals increasingly seeking coaches, in various capacities, to help guide them to be the best versions of themselves. It is important to remember not to get discouraged by the term “trait”. While a trait is an innate characteristic of an individual, usually a result of their genetic predisposition, the wonder of the above-mentioned traits is that with conscious practice and care, any individual can embody these traits.


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  • November 26, 2018 - No Comments!

    The Impact of Simulations on the Learning Process

    Author – Swati Kamath| Product Marketing Manager

    The Impact of Simulations on the Learning Process

    The main outcome of learning any skill is acquiring the level of competence to perform the task unconsciously, or in a habitual manner. According to Noel Burch, developer of the ‘4 stages of learning any new skill theory’, the process by which skills and abilities are learned normally takes the learner through four stages of learning:

    The Impact of Simulations on the Learning Process

    Stage 1 – Unconsciously unskilled (Unconscious Incompetence), where learners are unaware that they don’t know something. For example, if you have never driven a car before, you are likely to feel self-conscious and awkward the first time you get behind the wheel of a car because you don’t know what to do.

    Stage 2 – Consciously unskilled (Conscious Incompetence), where learners become aware that they don’t know something. Once you start learning to drive the car, you realize that you don’t have the proper skills to drive a car now, and you work towards changing that.

    Stage 3 – Consciously skilled (Conscious Competence), where learners become aware of the knowledge and skill. You are now able to drive a car but need to consciously focus on the task at hand.

    Stage 4 – Unconsciously skilled (Unconscious Competence), where learners, through practice and continuous application of skill finally arrive at a stage where the ability becomes easier, and perhaps even natural. It is now that you can drive a car comfortably. Driving a car no longer requires concentration and conscious effort, as the habit has been formed, this change is stabilized at the sub-conscious level.

    It is in repetitive action in practice that finally habituates a learner with a skill set, such that they may perform it unconsciously. In learning, unconscious competence is indicative of a change in the learner’s mental model.

    The problem with traditional learning methodologies

    Typically, a learner’s primary response to a situation comes from their subconscious patterned behavior, for which real-time, scientific feedback is not provided, and subsequent repercussions can be grave. As has been established already, the learning process is complete when it produces a change in thought, feeling and action, specifically by practice in a social environment. Formal learning, on-the-job experience and social interaction provide learners with knowledge, and some skill. Learners are then required to put in the effort themselves to master the skill. Research suggests that this typically takes 10,000 hours or 6-10 years to accomplish. Therefore, learners find it difficult to sustain the practice of ambiguous and complex skillsets.


    Traditional learning interventions lack critical elements that are required to strengthen the learning process to ensure habitual practice. Analytics to measure behavioral change, unbiased feedback, practice, and a safe environment for errors are often missing or limited in traditional learning interventions. As a result, more often than not, learning is rarely implemented. Where conscious attempts are made, changes in mindset and behavior take a long time to manifest and be recognized, if at all.

    As Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book, ‘The Tipping Point’, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts”. In other words, traditional learning omits facilitated practice.

    The role of simulations in making learning effective and retentive

    In employing the simulation technique to learning, the impact of the learning process is significantly higher, with higher returns, and lower error margins. This is because the conscious- competence model highlights the importance of feedback in the learning process, which is often missing in traditional learning techniques and approaches.


    Unconscious Incompetence

    • The two primary learner problems at this stage are that:
    • Learners at this stage either are unaware of or deny the relevance of a particular skillset. Learners are unaware of or deny their deficiency in a particular skillset
    • The demonstration of a simulation at this stage generated active interest among learners to engage in the technique.

    Conscious Incompetence

    • The complexity and real-life like environment within the simulation attracts learners to continue engaging with the simulations.
    • Feedback provided on each action indicates the areas of strength as well as improvement to the learner, highlighting the lack of mastery over a skillset or competency.

    Conscious Competence

    • Transition to the fourth and final level of the process is a result of constant practice.
    • The constant action-feedback-action loop within the simulation prompts learners to strive for perfection, thereby propelling continuous engagement, and more importantly, practice.
    • Gamified elements within the simulation, such as leaderboards and points invigorate competition, enhancing the immersive engagement experience of the learners

    Unconscious Competence

    • By the end of the simulation, learners have had enough practice to increase confidence levels of exhibiting the newly learnt behavior in the real world.
    • By this stage, learners are in a position to even impart this skill to others.

    If we are seeking learning methodologies that profoundly impact the learning process and outcome positively, as all L&D teams should, then there are but a few drawbacks to simulation-based approach to the learning process. To understand the benefit of simulations in achieving deep, impactful learning, read this whitepaper.

    To request a walkthrough of a behavioral simulation, contact us now.

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    November 23, 2018 - No Comments!

    Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 1

    Author – Swati Kamath| Product Marketing Manager

    Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition: Part 1

    The use of simulations in training dates to the early 20th century, when the military understood the benefit of simulation-based training. Since then, simulations have become increasingly popular across various other industries as well – Healthcare, Education, etc.

    Business schools specifically find tremendous value in employing simulations in their curriculum. As a result, students join the workforce far more prepared to manage the challenges and ambiguity of the corporate world than previous generations. Unfortunately, this traction hasn’t been gained in the corporate sector. This may be because of the myriad of myths and biases that may exist in the corporate sector against simulations in learning.

    However, in the last decade or so, the preliminary use of simulation in the business sector has shown significant benefit to business. Therefore, it is in the best interest of organizations to deploy simulation-based training to employees. This, however, requires a mindset shift about simulations.

    Therefore, to facilitate the increased use of simulations in corporate learning, KNOLSKAPE presents ‘Dispelling the myths – Simulations Edition’, where we debunk all the myths we’ve heard against simulations. To ensure that each of these myths is addressed thoroughly, we present this information in a three-part blog series. Watch out for the entire series.


    Myth: Simulations are unnecessary

    I have always found this belief to be hilarious. On what basis are simulations considered unnecessary? Think about it: Why do organizations invest exorbitant sums of money in training? It is so that:

    1. Employees perform to their full potential
    2. Productivity and efficiency are improved
    3. Organizations can bring in high revenues and more profit

    In essence, corporate learning is about developing employees and growing business. Let’s break down each component:

    1. Developing employees: Employees stay with organizations that give the learning and development opportunities relevant to them. Employees seek hyper-personalized learning solutions that can help them manage their weaknesses and become better versions of themselves. The question is: Are non-simulation-based learning interventions meeting learner expectations?
    2. Growing business: Organizations invest in learning initiatives so that they may retain high performing talent who will be instrumental in taking business to greater heights. However, the question always remains – what is the return on the investment that we are making on learning?

    The reality is that learning programs are not cheap, however, thus far, learning impact has never been measured to the comprehensive level that L&D and business would like. How can simulations be unnecessary when they cater to the learners’ need for hyper-personalization, practice, and preparation while giving comprehensive insights to L&D and business on participation, potential, performance and progress?

    Myth: Simulation software is expensive

    A common myth about employing simulations software is that it is very expensive. A common question that people ask me is, “how do I justify the cost of this simulation-based training when I have a vendor who is quoting half the price for a leadership program?”

    That’s a fair question to ask but look at what you’re really taking away from this.  To me, a training program is like a pair of sneakers. You can either buy the inexpensive brand of sneakers that would cost you no more than US$30 but is most likely uncomfortable and stressful on your feet; Or, you could buy a pair of ergonomically crafted shoes from a well-established brand such as Nike, which could cost you anything above US$150. Why does this matter?

    Here’s the reality: Your Nike sneakers are an investment, because they are going to keep your feet safe, comfortable and painless. The shoes are also going to last you a very long time. On the other hand, the 30-dollar pair of shoes is going to get very uncomfortable, you’ll find yourself not being able to wear them for too long, and you are going to swap them out in less than a year’s time because the soles of the shoes have worn out.

    In the long scheme of things, your Nikes are not only lasting longer, but they are saving you the effort of experimenting with a new brand when your 30-dollar knock-offs get thrown out every 8-10 months.

    Here’s some basic math,

    1 pair of Nike costing US$150, lasts 5-6 years.

    Each pair of US$30 knock-offs need to be replaced every 8-10 months, costing you a total of US$ 180-US$ 225 at the end of 5 years.

    Not only are you paying more for the knock-offs, your feet are subjected to constant pain and eventually you are going to have to go to the doctor or a foot spa to relax your feet (you end up spending more money here).

    Apply this analogy to simulation-based vs. non-simulation-based learning programs. You can choose to employ a seemingly more economical non-simulation-based training program. The long game will look like this: You are going to find yourself giving your employees a crash course every 6-9 months, constantly repeating the same material. Reality check! If you repeat the same thing over and over again, it means that the message has not stuck. Therefore, you are spending a lot of time, effort and money on no additional value.

    On the contrary, a one-time investment on simulation-based training leads to reduction of time and effort in upskilling employees, ensuring learning retention, fun and engaging learning, giving learners the opportunity to practice learning so that they can almost immediately apply it to real life situations, which means your time to productivity after the learning intervention is almost minimal.

    Now, ask yourself, which is truly more expensive.

    Myth: Simulations only help predict failures or shortcomings

    Let’s quickly recap what a simulation offers learners – learners are presented with a real-life like, safe learning environment where they are given a context similar to their real-life scenario. Learners assume a role within the simulation and are expected to perform certain actions to meet predetermined objectives. Learner actions are recorded and analyzed, culminating in a comprehensive report.

    Unlike in an interview or discussion format, where learners are preconditioned to respond the “right” way, within a simulation, actions are taken based on the individual’s innate style and responses. It is important to remember that simulations are objective and free of biases. Therefore, they don’t look for any specific parameters. Therefore, the cumulative report presents a holistic understanding of the learner’s performance, comprising both areas of strength as well as failures.

    In the next two blogs of this series, we continue to look at the other myths that exist about simulations which keep organizations from benefiting through the implementation of simulations in their learning and development interventions.

    To know more about behavioral simulations, their impact on deep learning and how to implement simulation-based learning within your organization, get in touch with us at KNOLSKAPE.

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