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close this bookDesigning Human Settlements Training in African Countries - Volume 2: Trainer's Tool Kit (HABITAT, 1994, 182 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe lecture
View the documentVisual aids
View the documentQuestion and answer
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentDemonstration
View the documentSimulation
View the documentThe case method
View the documentCritical incidents
View the documentRole-playing
View the documentInstrumentation
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentNominal group technique (NGT)
View the documentForce field analysis
View the documentAction planning
View the documentOther learning transfer strategies
View the documentPerformance analysis & needs assessment
View the documentTraining impact evaluation
View the documentTraining the staff to train
View the documentCoaching
View the documentTeam development
View the documentRole negotiation
View the documentIntergroup conflict intervention
View the documentOrganizational goal setting
View the documentA closing note

Simulation

Learning Emphasis




Organization Focus




I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Confucius

One of the most effective things a trainer can do to dramatize real-life situations is to simulate them in a workshop setting. A simulation is an abstraction or simplified model of a particular process that is to be learned by a group of participants in training. By working through a simulation, participants can learn about a process and about themselves as actors in the process, without taking the risks of real-life experimentation.

A familiar example of simulation as a learning aid is teaching children to play store. In this case, the intent is to teach the children how to count money and to handle coins and bills of various denominations. The mechanics and rules of the game are simple: selecting differently priced items for purchase, adding up their total cost, paying out play money to a storekeeper and receiving the correct amount of change.

Some simulations or games are very sophisticated and expensive. Considerable research has gone into their development. Many are computerized, so that participants may receive information concerning a developing situation, react to the information, feed their reactions back to the computer, and get results that indicate the efficacy of the actions proposed.

Other simulations are less complicated than this but useful in getting participants emotionally involved in learning about situations that resemble real life. A good example is a management simulation called “The Communication Towers Project.” Participants in small groups, using prefabricated construction materials, compete with one another and the clock to build a communication tower. The toy pieces used by the participants to build the tower are given monetary value based on their size and shape. The object of the game is to build the tallest tower with the least amount of costly material. The game is used to assess the effectiveness of leadership, planning and teamwork in competing groups.

Training guidelines and participant instructions for conducting a communication-tower-building simulation are shown at the end of this section. Trainers interested in this simulation are encouraged to make changes in the materials to suit themselves and the needs of their training group.

THE IN-BASKET

Perhaps the best known example of simulation is the in-basket, invented as a technique for assessing managerial effectiveness. As its title indicates, the in-basket is a stack of correspondence in the in-basket of a supervisor or manager who has just been moved into a position with which he has little or no previous experience.

As a training exercise, each participant is given a packet of materials and is seated at a desk where he is able to spread out the items in the packet, read them and analyse what to do. The materials include letters or memos in conflict with one another, memoranda suggesting further study, extraneous and insignificant letters and related trivia. The participant may be provided with a calendar and an organization chart.

The simulation is directed by the trainer. After being given a packet of materials and a desk, participants are introduced to the exercise. A time limit may be prescribed. When told to begin, participants work their way through the stack of letters and memos, studying and reacting to the urgency and importance of each.

The objective of the simulation is to see not only what each participant does about the various items in the packet but how each approaches the exercise. That is, did the participant plough methodically through the material, reading each item carefully and acting on it before moving on, or did she scan all items, sorting out the most important, leaving the less important for the clean-up period?

The simulation ends with a discussion of each participant’s plan of attack and assessment of what to do about the various items in the in-basket packet.

Trainers interested in the in-basket simulation technique are invited to use the in-basket materials which follow the communication-towers simulation at the end of this section. The situation used for this particular in-basket is a fairly common one. However, trainers are advised to change the content of the various items in the packet and even the fact situation to fit local needs.

SIMULATION 1

The Communication-tower Project

Your agency has been awarded a grant to construct two communication towers. The first stage of the project is to plan and construct a prototype, reduced-scale tower. If your agency is able to maximize cost-effectiveness on the prototype, the money will be granted to construct the second tower; however, the donor retains the right to cancel the grant if the prototype does not prove to be cost-effective. Your construction project will be compared to that of several other agencies which have been awarded similar grants, so that the donor will have a basis for judging results.

The donor would like to have a tall tower and has put two restrictions on the project: (a) the tower must be at least 1.5 metres in height, and, (b) it must be able to stand unsupported for at least 10 seconds. Potential revenues will be based on the height of the tower and possible bonuses.

The project will be carried out in two phases:

1. Phase One: Planning
2. Phase Two: Construction

PLANNING PHASE

Your group has 45 minutes during this phase to accomplish the following:

· Define your group’s objectives for the project, taking into account cost and revenue data,

· Organize your group to accomplish the task,

· Prepare a design for the prototype,

· Develop detailed plans for constructing the prototype,

· Establish any controls you feel are necessary,

· Plan for the tower construction site, and

· Record your plans, including all budget figures. Give one copy of your plans to the trainer at the end of the Planning Phase. Keep at least one copy of your plans for your group.

You are allowed to handle and assemble materials, but no more than two tiers of the tower may be built during the planning phase. All of the pieces must be completely disassembled before beginning the construction phase. You will be notified when to begin the construction phase. For now, be sure to study all of the tower data very carefully to determine tower-related objectives.

Materials for the Communication-tower Project

Materials consist of:

1. An equal number of pieces of wood or construction paper for each group. (An illustration of the number and types of pieces that might be provided each group and their assigned values in local currency are shown on the next page).

2. A ruler to measure tower height.

3. A stopwatch to keep track of time.

4. Scissors, tape, and a staple gun for each group (if construction paper is selected as the material for tower construction).

Cost data for tower construction

Material costs:

1. 20 long, straight pieces __________________________________________

Shs. 20,000

(about 45 cm)


2. 30 medium, straight pieces _______________________________________

Shs. 14,000

(about 30 cm)


3. 40 short, straight pieces _________________________________________

Shs. 5,000

(about 8 cm)


4. 5 large rectangles ______________________________________________

Shs. 20,000

(30 × 20 cm)


5. 8 medium squares _____________________________________________

Shs. 10,000

(18 cm on a side)


6.12 small squares _______________________________________________

Shs. 5,000

(10 cm on a side)


7.12 small triangles _______________________________________________

Shs. 4,000

(10 cm on a side)


8. 60 connectors _________________________________________________

Shs. 1,000

(round object with five holes on a flat surface)



Time/Labour Costs

Revenue Data for Communication-tower Project

Tower revenue (based on tower height in metres)

Tower Height

Revenue

1.5 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 1.50 million

1.6 m ......................................................................................

Shs. 1.60 million

1.8 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 1.70 million

1.9 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 1.80 million

2.0 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 1.95 million

2.1 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.10 million

2.3 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.25 million

2.4 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.40 million

2.5 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.50 million

2.6 m ......................................................................................

Shs. 2.55 million

2.8 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.60 million

2.9 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.65 million

3.0 m.......................................................................................

Shs. 2.70 million

Bonus and penalty awards

A bonus will be awarded to a group for accurately estimating (within 10 per cent) what its construction costs will be. A penalty will be assessed to a group if its actual costs exceed its estimated costs by more than 10 per cent.

Construction phase

All groups will be started at the same time for this phase by the trainer. You should be at your construction site and be prepared to start.

When your group has completed the communications tower, be sure to signal the trainer immediately so that the actual time can be recorded accurately. Remember, the tower must be stable enough to stand unsupported for 10 seconds.

When construction is complete, record the actual revenue items and cost items under the column headed, “Construction Record,” on your plan worksheet. Calculate whether your group is eligible for a bonus or a penalty as indicated on the worksheet and record it appropriately. Calculate the project’s cost-effectiveness. If it is greater than 1, the prototype tower was cost-effective; if it is less than 1, it was not cost-effective.

Compare your results with those of other groups.

Plan for Tower Construction

Group _________

Objective:

________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Organization:

________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Controls:

________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Tower Estimates (Budget)


Construction Record


Revenue: (Tower Height) Shs.

____

Revenue:


Costs:



Tower Height (Shs.)

____


Materials Shs.

____


Bonus Shs.

____


Time/Labour Shs.

____


Total Rev. (Shs.)

____


Total Costs Shs.

____

Costs:


Figure 10 per cent of total costs

____


Materials (Shs.)

____




Time/Labour (Shs.)

____




Penalty (Shs.)

____




Total costs (Shs.)

____

Was your total cost estimate within 10 per cent + or - of your actual cost? If so, add the 10 per cent figure to your tower revenue as a bonus.

Did your actual construction cost exceed your cost estimate by 10 per cent? If so, add the 10 per cent figure to your total cost as a penalty.

Summary information

Actual tower height:

________ m.

Time needed for construction:

________ min.

Total revenue cost-effectiveness ratio:

SIMULATION 2

The In-basket Exercise

This “in-basket exercise” sets up a hypothetical management situation in which you, as the manager, are required to take action through letters and memos in your “in-basket.” You are under some severe limitations as to time, newness of the position and absence of certain help you would normally have.

The situation may seem unrealistic, but the “in-basket” material itself- the problems - are realistic in management situations.

As soon as you are familiar with the background details of the exercise, try to complete it in one hour.

Caution! - don’t get trapped in the details of the organization. The important thing is to deal with the problems in the “in-basket.”

The Problem

You are Charles Kalea, newly appointed to the position of utilities department head. You have been selected from outside the organization to fill a position left vacant by William Mumba, who resigned unexpectedly to an early retirement (age 50), owing to what he called personal matters. Mumba had been utilities department head for 12 years. Prior to being department head, he had been supervisor under a previous organization that was absorbed by the utilities department. Mumba had worked his way up from the bottom and had just completed his 28th year with the organization.

You are not as familiar with the organization as you would like to be. However, you have worked in similar organizations and know pretty well what is going on. You reported to work Friday, 3 June, but only had time to greet the staff and tour the facilities.

You have come to work this Saturday morning, 4 June, to check the office and become familiar with the surroundings. Because of prior professional commitments to present a technical paper at the Annual Governmental Institute Conference, you will not be in the office for the first three days next week.

You must leave for your trip in one hour and you feel the in-basket mail and memos should be cleaned out and not held over. Go through the in-basket materials attached and determine the action you would take on each one. Don’t forget, you have to leave in one hour to catch a plane, so do not take too long on each item, but make sure each item is considered properly and given the appropriate attention.

Your staff of division heads are known to you mainly through association at conventions of professional organizations and some limited social contacts through the years.

You have made these personal notes on each one:

Robert Mupata - Engineering

A competent person of considerable formal education; a registered engineer; has been with the organization for 12 years; runs a tight ship; not an outward person (may feel some resentment for not having been appointed to your position).

Mary Kariuki - Streets and Parks

Well-liked by employees and community; local; 14 years with the organization; age about 42; has been able to bring a lot of change to the community in street and park improvement. Attends the university when she can.

John Morant - Traffic Control

Hard worker, puts in a lot of extra time; came from Australia about five years ago with a good record in traffic control; has not really utilized the potentials of his employees; may have a morale problem. Morant gets the job done, but does not delegate on a regular basis, only as a panic measure; education: two years at the university.

Theresia Njambi - Water and Sewer Division

You know Theresia the least; the greatest demand lies in this division because of services needed for the new industrial area in the community. The division will need about 20 additional people next year because of this increased workload. Theresia guards her domain closely and resents anyone poking into what she feels is her business. She has been noted to have controversies with her supervisors. In fact, three years ago, one of her top employees left to take a lesser job with a nearby community.

Miss Bekoe - Your Secretary

Knows the operation well and should be a help. She is 58 years old and has held her position for 20 years. She could retire any day but likes the security of work. Last year, she spent a six months’ leave of absence in Europe and is already planning a trip to Singapore. She has a typist clerk, Mary Mpata, who has been working with her for the past three years. Miss Bekoe refuses to give anything more than typing and filing to this position.


Figure

Item 1

21 May

Mr. Charles Kalea, Utilities Department Head

Dear Charles:

It is with great satisfaction that I learned you were selected as my replacement. A lot of people would say, “I don’t care who takes over when I’m gone.” But I feel a part of me is still in that job and I would feel bad if the wrong person was there.

You will find Miss Bekoe a big help. She knows the department inside and out and can fill you in on any details. She and I have been through a lot together. She really knows how to handle the staff, too.

I am sorry to have left before you started the job. But perhaps it is better this way. I am sure there are things I would not be able to help you with. My being present would have just made for an awkward situation.

The division chiefs are all good and will cooperate, I am sure, in every way.

Give my best to everyone, and best of luck to you in your new position.

Cordially,

William Mumba

Item 2

MEMORANDUM

TO: Mr. Kalea

FROM: John Mallya

DATE: 3 June

I previously cleared with Mr. Mumba to have Tuesday, 7 June, off. I have an appointment with my travel agent in the city.

Item 3

MEMORANDUM

TO: W. Mumba, Department Head

FROM: T. Njambi

DATE: 15 May

William, we’ve been through this before, but let me remind you that my division is going to need considerable equipment and staff for the increased workload that everyone is talking about. I noticed in the proposed budget that only about half of what I submitted was in the budget. I would like some explanation.

Item 4

MEMORANDUM

TO: Mr. Kalea

FROM: Miss Bekoe

DATE: 30 May

I thought you would be interested to know that 8 June is Mr. Wakesa’s 50th birthday.

Item 5

3 May

74367 Biashana Street
City

Mr. William Mumba, Director, Utilities Department

Dear Mr. Mumba:

This is to notify you that Robert Kwalme has placed a fence on public property, between my land and the land that I sold to you along the driveway that you built for him because of the right-of-way needed and purchased from him on the other side of his property.

This fence is built over six feet high and is made out of wire and old, rusty iron pipes, and in addition, he has set vines about every 30 centimeters and strung the vines on the wire. These vines grow very rapidly and will soon cover my shrubs, trees, as well as my house, therefore, doing damage to my property.

I want to know what right he has to build this mess on public property. Of course, I know why he did it, and that is to intimidate my wife and me and for no other reason. I am asking you to have this mess removed at once as I know he has no absolutely no legal right to place this fence unless you authorize him to do so, and I am inclined to doubt that you did.

Will you give this matter your prompt attention? I am sure you would not want a mess like this next door to you and I know if you were in my place you certainly would object furiously.

Sincerely,

K. Kajubi

Item 6

MEMORANDUM

TO: All Department Heads

FROM: D. Wakesa, Chief Administrator

DATE: 25 May

There will be a monthly department heads staff meeting in my office, 9 June, at 13.00.

AGENDA

I. Bring your proposed budgets for a final review.

II. Mr. Charles Kalea is joining our staff, 3 June, as utilities department head. We will look forward to welcoming him at this meeting.


III. Proposed reorganizations are in order for discussion.

Item 7

MEMORANDUM

TO: Charles Kalea, Utilities Director

FROM: David Wakesa, Chief Administrator

DATE: 25 May

Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to our organization. I feel we have come a long way in the three years I have been here. We, the management team, have considerable challenges ahead, I am glad to have you as a part of this team.

There will be a staff meeting Thursday, 6 June, which primarily will be a budget review session. I am requesting that you present a tentative recommendation for changes in your organizational structure at this time.

I hope your conference presentation will be well-accepted and that you will be able to obtain information to utilize in your new position as utilities director.

Item 8

2 May

Director Utilities Department

Dear Sir:

This year, as in years past, the third grade of Karibu Grammar School would like to visit the Department of Utilities.

We have scheduled our bus for 9 June, and will be arriving with the third graders at 13.00.

The students are now studying public utilities and I’m sure would like to hear from the director of such a fine department as yours.

Thank you.
Cordially yours,

Miss Otieno, Teacher
Third Grade
Karibu Grammar School

Item 9

MEMORANDUM

TO: Charles Kalea

FROM: Robert Mupata, Engineering Division Head

DATE: 29 May

One of my many duties is to keep track of vehicle out-of-service time due to accidents. (This type of administrative duty is taking considerable time from my work as an engineer.)

I would like to bring to your attention that the division of traffic control, has experienced a 100-per cent increase in vehicle out-of-service hours this year compared with the same period last year. My division, I am proud to say, has the lowest vehicle out-of-service rate in the department.

I would like to meet with you to review this and other matters as soon as possible.

SUMMARY

A simulation is a learning tool that is representative of a process under study. It allows participants to experiment with the process and learn from it with a minimum of personal or occupational risk. Participants who take part in simulations can practice with new ways of doing things and make judgements about learnings that are relevant to them.