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Editorial: Simulation Design as Powerful Research Methodology

How HR Can Better Serve IT


One reason educational simulations drive changes in behavior is the research process used to create them. The philosophies of simulation design (with a primary emphasis on Actions, Results, and Systems) are being applied to more and more research processes, even when the output is not an actual simulation. Here is an example that I created for report to a client, and this is how I described the chart in The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games:

The topic is, “What do CIOs want of their IT representative? ”
From a traditional analysis perspective, this issue has five broad themes:
  • Global performance management
  • Support sourcing
  • Serve in the CIO’s inner circle to advise on all IT issues
  • Increase the degree that IT is business facing
  • Reduce or eliminate traditional low-value IT responsibilities
The chart maps specific contextual actions (in a Roman font) and short-term results (in italics). In other words, it tells the reader of the research what to do, as well as what to look for as tangential signs of success.

For example, an action in Global Performance Management is “Plan for future IT talent requirements,” and a related result metric is “Time to fill position.” Likewise, an action within CIO Inner Circle is “Mentor or coach the senior team” and a related result metric is “Receive daily CIO phone calls.”

The invisible system is the position on the chart, in terms of distance from the lower-left corner. The HR representative cannot even try to do the higher-value actions in the periphery of the chart before completing the actions and getting the results nearer the lower left corner. The HR representative cannot “participate in the CIO’s inner circle” without first being able to “talk IT,” and cannot “maintain succession planning ” without being good at both “predicting future skills” and “recruiting and retaining strategic talent.”
The traditional output of traditional research has failed, in part because it does not drive productive action. The approach used by simulation designers is revolutionary in its productiveness, even if the end results are not a simulation.

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