Employee Development in the Era of Screen Time - CLO Article

Employee Development in the Era of Screen Time

By Bill Hall

Tap, look, feel rewarded. Tap, look, feel rewarded again. All of this happens within a few seconds. We all know what it refers to: the physiological rewards of “screen time.” The corporate leaders of tomorrow have entered adulthood with this technology and research indicates that anything less is physiologically unrewarding. As far back as 2012, one study found that “internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control.”

What do screen time expectations mean for employee learning and development? The short answer is that employee development needs to adapt. The idea that society is going to change is a pipe dream.

You can find the entire article I wrote for CLO Magazine here: https://www.clomedia.com/2019/03/13/employee-development-in-the-era-of-screen-time/

- Bill


Article: 5 Skills to Develop in the Modern Leader

Published this article today at TrainingIndustry.com. An easy read at only about 3min.

We live in a fast-paced world propelled by constant technology-driven transformation. Coupled with an acceleration of baby boomer retirement, executive leadership is under more pressure than ever to adapt to change. Leadership may be the most important skill in the corporate world, as well as the hardest to source. At the same time, the definition of leadership is clearly broadening. Digital technologies and modern business models have disrupted almost every aspect of business. Industry leaders need an entirely different set of skills and capabilities, which calls for a new definition of leadership.




Bloomberg: Now Is Not a Good Time to Skimp on Worker Training


Great article was published by Bloomberg today. Definitely worth a read:

Now Is Not a Good Time to Skimp on Worker Training
With unemployment near a record low, many businesses have no choice but to spend to upgrade employee skills.
By Peter Coy

To me, reading this really emphasizes how nicely real-life, applied learning using business training simulations can really help. This is especially the case when using a leadership development simulation. But, have a look for yourself. The article is here:


Repost: Infographic: 5 Tips To Teaching Business Acumen

As always, we have been slammed with Springtime projects. So, I'm doing a repost. I know, this is sort of a copout. But, this has been our most popular post (by far). So, I thought it was timely for a repost. Here you go!

After months of programing, I decided to do something on the more creative side. We've been getting a lot of questions about how to effectively teach business acumen. This has become an exceptionally popular topic. This is mostly due to the stock market doing so well in 2017. The swelling has led to an acceleration of retirement amongst current leaders. This is putting pressure on companies to accelerate leadership development. A huge part of leadership development is company specific business acumen. From the outside, it looks as if this is what is causing the increased interest.

Thus, I created an infographic (yes, I did the artwork so be forgiving. After all, I'm more of a strategist and technologist than artist). Hope this helps.

Click the image below to download the full infographic.



Published in Entrepreneur Voices on Leadership

I am honored to announce that Entrepreneur Book Publishing chose one of my articles to be included in their newly published book titled, "Entrepreneur Voices on Effective Leadership"

Entrepreneur publishing has been a great parter to work with and their publishing criteria is one of the more strict I've worked with. This is important because it ensures relevance and quality for readers. I received a copy of the book a week or so ago and all the articles they chose are very applicable, timely, and well written. I applaud the publishers work.

Entrepreneur chose to publish the article titled, "4 Steps to Build Strategically Critical Leadership-Development Programs".

You can find the article here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290487

You can get the book from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Entrepreneur-Voices-Effective-Leadership-Staff/dp/1599186179/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517432960&sr=8-1&keywords=entrepreneur+voices+of+effective+leadership

My sincerest thank you to Entrepreneur Publishing.

Infographic: 5 Tips To Effectively Teach Business Acumen

It's been far too long since the last post. We apologize. Summer was completely off the charts busy with overlapping projects. All went well and we're getting back to normal.

After months of programing, I decided to do something on the more creative side. We've been getting a lot of questions about how to effectively teach business acumen. This has become an exceptionally popular topic. This is mostly due to the stock market doing so well (Wilshire 5000 is up 33.54% 2yr Oct to Oct- Wow!) which has resulted in 401Ks swelling. The swelling has led to an acceleration of retirement amongst current leaders. This is putting pressure on companies to accelerate leadership development. A huge part of leadership development is company specific business acumen. From the outside, it looks as if this is what is causing the increased interest.

Thus, I created an infographic (yes, I did the artwork so be forgiving. After all, I'm more of a strategist and technologist than artist). Hope this helps.

Click the image below to download the full infographic.



The Impending Leader Brain Drain & Solutions

The Baby Boomer retirement rate is set to create a significant management gap of experienced and skilled leaders. According to Gallup, 78% of HR leaders say the threat of losing business critical expertise is growing. This is just the start. Additionally, in 2020, the average age of Baby Boomers will be 65. The good news is there are innovative and effective ways to begin the knowledge transfer process from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers and Millennials. The result is a more prepared, resilient, and competitive organization.

I took a stab at creating an infographic that visually represents the impending leadership brain drain. It is yours to download. Let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy it and hope it helps!

Of course, we'd be happy to help you create innovative and effective ways to reduce the brain drain, but this probably goes without saying :^). Enjoy!

Click the image below to download the PDF of the infographic
(Note, the image embedded is low resolution):



Management Knowledge Transfer: Hands-On


I just returned from the ATD international conference. It seems like ATD is stuck somewhere around 2008. Very little has changed and there was definitely frustration from other attendees as well. This year felt especially vendor-first. The presentations lacked anything tangible and once again just set the stage for future purchases. Finally, the keynotes didn't seem exceptionally relevant. But, that's just me and I hope others found it was useful.

Talking with many other attendees, a very clear concern came across: Management knowledge transfer. Without any coaxing, over 10 people brought this up as a huge concern. In most instances, it was the #1 concern. There was very little talk about this from the presentations I attended. Talking with a couple CLOs, we talked about the importance of this topic especially in tandem with trying to drive the business forward in various new directions. Talking with CLOs about this almost made them pass out from the overwhelming tasks in front of them. This led to discussions of creating hands-on training where soon-to-be retiring executives are matched with 4 other managers for a day or two of training. They loved the idea. Let's look at this in more detail…


Simulations to Teach Innovation?!? In Leadership Development?!?

Have you ever thought of using business simulations within innovation training? If you haven’t you should! Today’s generation thinks innovation is common. Some innovate well while some could use a little training on the formal (yet relaxed) process of innovation. Business Simulations offer a great opportunity for participants to brainstorm, try, learn, and apply. This is hard to do without the aid of the advanced learning tool(s).

More and more, leadership development is requiring an innovative component to the curriculum. The challenge has been how to give the participants the opportunity to not only learn the process of creative thinking, but to also apply and practice it. This is where business simulations come in.

Business Simulations: Teaching Innovative Thinking Within Leadership Development. Why?

1. Innovative thinking is becoming a required topic within leadership development.
2. Business Simulations engage employees around applying innovative thinking curriculum.
3. Today’s employees demand a method to try, learn, and apply training content. Slides are dead.
4. Innovative process is only good for creative thinking. Business Simulations help participants put the creativity to use.
5. Your training could become the next cog in the wheel of innovation and creative thinking within your company.

If teaching people how to be more innovative is important, you should think about utilizing a Business Simulations within corporate training and development. The train left the station some time ago within fortune 500 companies globally. Implementing these valuable solutions is not complicated nor are they expensive. It’s worth investigating.

"I'm Going to Challenge The Heck Out Of Trainees in 2016!"

Why not make it a resolution to put training participants in the their place in 2016? We all know that corporate training participants come into training thinking they're wasting their time because they know everything as it is. Heck, they could be CEO, right? This is something we’ve all heard time and again. So, let’s put them in the their place!

How to challenge trainees like never before in 2016

Have you thought about utilizing a business simulation in 2016? Are you a little timid due to lack of experience, fear you’re over your head, or you think sims are just too darned expensive? You needn’t worry. Business Simulations are a lot less expensive than you think. Also, in many cases, the provider will be the ones facilitating along side of you (Yes! You’ll still be very involved). Here are some tips to getting started challenging the heck out of training participants:

1. Start off with a solution that you are involved in, but don’t have to facilitate solo.
2. Start off with a solution that isn’t too expensive straight away. Off The Shelf Solutions that combine business acumen and leadership development are a great place to start.
3. Start off with a solution that is slightly more broad. This will help keep costs down and keep participants engaged and challenged.
4. Find a provider you’re very comfortable with. This will help you learn more and grow quicker.
5. Read about business simulations before you get started. A great resource is here: Shift: Using Business Simulations and Serious Games in Corporate Training and Development.

Have a happy and fun New Year!

Radio Program: Mid Market Companies Adapt Enterprise Level "War Room" Simulations

It looks as though the popularity of using business simulations within small and medium sized companies has grown a lot of attention. So much so that a very popular business radio program did a special program on the topic. The Price of Business, one of the most listened to business radio talk shows recently did a segment about business simulations within smaller companies.

It’s a quick piece, but it might provide an easy to digest overview.

Business Simulations No Longer Just For the Fortune 500


Business Simulations have traditionally been reserved for the largest companies. This has all changed! It’s time for the little guy to gain access to these valuable tools. This levels the playing field when it comes to advanced corporate development or strategic development. The time has come for the little player to compete on a level playing field. Let’s start with defining these tools. What is a business simulation and what is it traditionally used for?

Business Simulations: Most Common Uses

- Leadership Development, Corporate Development, or Executive Development- This is the most common place to utilize a business simulation or serious game. These tools are traditionally used within training and development in order to teach managers effective leadership, business acumen, corporate strategy, or all of the above. Business simulations are highly engaging and today’s learners love them!

- Business War Gaming - This is where leaders within a company utilize a business simulation to test the corporate strategy before it’s implemented. Utilizing a business simulation for business war games gives executives the opportunity to test their strategy in a real time war game setting in order to test the corporate strategy. This enables the human element that traditional strategy development usually lacks.

These are just two examples of ways companies most commonly utilize business simulations and/or business war games. There are many more. If you are just getting started, we recommend picking up a copy of “Shift: Utilizing Business Simulations and Serious Games Within Corporate Learning’ at Amazon. It’s a very easy read and inexpensive. It will not give you step by step instructions on how to build a simulation, but it does give you great guidance on how to use them within corporate learning.

How To: Low Budget Scenario Based Learning That Excites Sticks!

Business Simulation Example
It’s hard to teach behavioral topics such as conflict management, negotiation, or leadership. It is also expensive to create (or re-create) a setup to enable people to practice these important managerial skills. Most companies let the natural course of time and experience hone these skills. A little intro theory mixed with some time hopefully creates the right outcomes. In today’s business environment, this is expensive! But how do you create scenarios without the time or expense (or all the resources)?

How to Create Scenario Based Learning That Sticks!

Lets assume you have a scenario based training topic that needs to be practiced by a lot of people. Go with a branching story! Branching stories are easy to create and are more engaging than people give them credit for. Here’s how a branching story works:

User logs into the computer and starts the ‘game’. As a result, the user reads something like: You walk into the company break room and two of your employees are having an argument. Do you a) turn around and walk out? b) Ask them politely to find a conference room and work it out? or c) Ask them to join you in a conference room in order to settle the issue?

Once someone selects an option, the computer adapts and changes the story depending on the option chosen. Let’s say you chose C. The computer then responds and says, Ok, you are in a conference room and the two employees refuse to talk. What do you do? a) Tell them to work it out or they will both be suspended without pay. b) Ask that one of them explains what happened. c) Tell them to go back to work and work it out after hours.

As you can see, there are “right” answers and “not so great answers”. They are all viable choices, but some are just better than others. Once the participants go through a series of choices, they will come to an ending. From this, they will learn what works and doesn’t work. They then have the option to try again in order to be better.

Voila! You just created an action learning module. These can easily be done in powerpoint or MS word. Very very easy!

Branching stories are a type of business simulation and are sometimes used as a leadership development simulation. Very easy to get started and you can find many resources on the web.

Why Should I Use a Business Simulation?

By now, most training and development managers know about business simulations. Most have at the very least heard of a business simulation. Many times, people ask, “Why should I use a business simulation?” This is a good question, and a tricky one to answer. But let’s give it a try:

Let’s be very clear here, a business simulation should only come after you have solid training content. If you have a specific budget for your leadership development program, make sure you spend enough on your training content. No matter how great a business simulation is, if it is built to reinforce poor training content, it won’t be very good.

Business simulation consultants will do their best to tell you that a business simulation is the best thing since sliced bread. The real fact is that great training content is still the best place to spend your budget. A business simulation should be tight, focused, and easy to implement. With that out of the way, let’s look at why you should use a business simulation.

Why Should I Use a Business Simulation?

- A business simulation enables trainees to practice and “play” with your training content. This naturalizes the learning
- Your training content will become more strategic. By combining the corporate strategy and your training content, your training content automatically becomes a strategic requirement.
- Today’s learners expect something highly relevant. Today’s learners want to understand why the training content is important and be able to see its immediate applicability.

An important thing to remember is that a business simulation does not necessarily have to be expensive or computer based. It is always a good idea to start small and focused. This will help ensure success within your leadership development program.

Book About Business Simulations For Corp. T&D

Do you know about business simulations? Have you taken a look at them lately? Or are you one of those that says, “Ya, I looked at these a few years ago and they’re not for me.” If you fall into that category, you should take another look. Here’s why:

What You Should Know About Modern Business Simulations

- The cost of simulations for leadership development or business acumen has come down substantially
- The time to develop these tools is far less than it was before
- Today’s workforce requires and demands applicable, challenging, and engaging training
- Business Simulations are not as broad as they used to be
- Getting started utilizing business simulations is a lot easier than it used to be

Like all technology, business simulations have come a long way in the past few years. The tools to develop these solutions are more robust, more mature, and easier to utilize. As a result, creating leadership development simulations is far easier and quicker than it used to be. Many people took a look a few years ago and discounted them due to a) their cost, b) their applicability, or c) both.

It might be time to take another look. In William Hall’s book titled, “Shift: Using Business Simulations and Serious Games”, he outlines easy ways to get started that might take little or no money. Mr. Hall outlines the idea of starting small, simple, and even outlines using paper based solutions as an effective tool to engage today’s learners. It’s worth taking a look (at $3.99), it’s a no brainer. (side note: we’re told its free to download from Amazon on Sept 13 and 20, 2015.

Sometimes, you just got to do some research and now might be the time. The book is available on Amazon here.

What The Heck is a Business Simulation Anyway?

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “What the heck is a business simulation?” Believe me, there are times when I still ask that question. In reality, the terms business simulation, business game, and gamification, all have similar definitions, but with slight differences. The greatest outlier is business gamification. This was a term marketing people loved and even TedTalks got involved in the hype. It has since died down significantly, and in a lot of ways, is disliked by many. So, as a result, I’ll focus on Business Simulation to keep things focused and simple.

What the heck is a business simulation?

To pull directly from Wikipedia (if its on Wikipedia, it must be true, right?): Business simulation is simulation used for business training, education or analysis. It can be scenario-based or numeric-based.

I’m not really sure this helps a whole lot. In general, we like to tell people: A business simulation is a game based action learning module that take parts of your business, mimics them, and combines this with your training goals and objectives. Still not helpful, ya, we understand. The super easy definition is: Business Simulations are scenarios that are created in order to let training participants practice your training content without the risk of doing it in real life.

The reason these definitions are so grey is that this means many different things to many different people. Let’s look at an example:

Training goals: Leadership Development- A business simulation will be used here to let people live a few positions above their current level. For example, a VP might live as the CEO. This forces them to think like a leader and practice being a leader before they are actually ready to do so. This will require them to be good at business, management, strategy, execution, and change management (to name just a few things). As a result, participants can practice your leadership development training content and really get to know it.

Hopefully, this helps just a little.

What's The Difference?!? Simulations, Gamification, Serious Games?

Business Simulations and Games
Business Simulations? Business Gamification, Serious Games? What the heck is the difference?

This is a great question. In general terms, these are all forms of games. Marketing people love to change names of things. Let’s start by looking at Business Gamficiation:

Business Gamification. It's [was] all the rage, very catchy, and marketing managers just LOVE it. But what is it exactly? First of all, don't be overwhelmed.
Let's look at an example: Online forums... Ya know, those places you go to ask questions and get answers. You've probably noticed that certain people get points, prizes, or 'badges'. That's it! That's something that has been game-it-ized. What they've done is turned the use of a forum into a game via points and/or rewards. The goal is to get people to come back more and increase engagement. We're back in a technology boom so it's all about eye balls once again. Thus, if a company can keep people on their web site, the idea is this means they are an 'engaged' customer. This is gamification.

But, how does this relate to simulations or serious games? Great question. As has been repeated many times here, for simplicity purposes, don't get too caught up on the fancy terms. In many cases (not all) a business simulation is a form of game theory. Gamification is based on game theory. Serious Games are based on game theory. They aren't necessarily 100% all the same, but they share 98% of the same DNA.

A Business Simulation is going to be used to simulate a business or a function of a business. Serious games or gamification may not (but certainly could). This is why you shouldn't get too caught up on the terminology. If you are looking to simulate something in your business, call it a business simulation. If you're looking to engage people around a specific topic for marketing purposes, maybe call it gamification. It's up to you, but don't get too caught up in it. You probably have much better things to worry about.

Hope this helps!

Do I really Need a Business Simulation? The Basics Explained.

Business Simulations can seem like a daunting topic to learn about. But getting starting using business simulations can seem completely overwhelming. Are the too quantitative? Are they too technological? Do they have any personality at all? Do they really help?

But, the big question is, “Do I really need to use a business simulation?” Like any question this broad, the answer is: It depends. To help you get started, let’s look at the top questions to answer first:

1. Do you need to teach leadership’s effect on business results?
2. Do you have to teach some business acumen?
3. Are you looking for ways to connect your training content to the business?

In general (and this is a large in general), if you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you should begin to research ways to incorporate a business simulation into your training and development programs. The big question is: “How do I get started?” A very good place to get started is to do a little reading. There is a very easy to read and easy to understand book on Amazon that is a sort of entry level guide to business simulations for corporate training.

You can find a getting started book on Amazon here

But, in case you want the high level notes, here you go:

- Talk to peers in other companies about what they’re doing, how they did it, and what they learned
- Smaller simulations are usually better than large business simulations
- Some of the best business simulations are paper based... they’re not always computer based
- You might have to use a consulting company to start, but don’t let them take complete control away from you
- Focus on the goals of the training program and don’t let the simulation distract from those goals

The book goes into far more detail, but these are the high level takeaways. The book actually reviews game theory and game construction which is pretty interesting. No matter the case, this is an easy read and an easy place to get educated.

Hope this helps!