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Although there is a wide variety of management games or learning sessions, generally, a company's organization development (OD) department rarely applies the practical aspects of a company operation in them. The OD expert is supposed to brief the employees about the firm's pressing problems and scope of OD interventions.
During learning sessions, participants are usually grouped in teams according to their departments. The teams are provided with information on a case/issue that requires a decision-making analysis. For instance, a case can be the current status of the business, a competitor's strategy, customer behaviors or a matter that relates to the day-to-day business operation. The teams are required to analyze the information and reach a certain decision within a given period. The game is a matter of allowing participants to play and perform actual roles.
There are debates regarding the specific merits and shortcomings of simulation programs used, since most of them are impressionistic and primarily consist of intuitive judgments based on the experiences of the concerned managers. Some participants become dissatisfied with the programs due to the dominance of high-potential employees.
The effectiveness of a development program depends upon the learning ability of the participants. Facilitators usually keep managerial groups together simply because they work together. When a company mixes managers, and low and high performers in one game, there is a possibility that those who have excellent cognitive and attitudinal traits dominate the process. However, I suggest that companies do so, i.e., mix managers into various line responsibilities. Here, the mentor's role comes in, guiding the other participants (non-managerial staff) and sharing their ideas with them. Learning sessions must never create competition among participants; that kills creativity.
Organizational needs, business setting and employee capabilities are important considerations in organizing learning sessions.
• OD team must tackle company issues, create OD interventions
• The effectiveness of a game depends upon participants' abilities
• Teams consisting of different job roles encourage brainstorming
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Source: Dr. Pon Mohaideen Pitchai, Special to Jobs & Careers
The writer is a Dubai-based HR and Management Consultant