Why People Say ‘Yes’ and Act ‘No’: Business Simulations Can Reinforce the Link between Attitudes and Behaviors

There is often a big gap between what people say they (will) do and what they actually do. The reason why people say ‘yes’ on the one hand, and act ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ on the other hand, finds its origins in a loose coupling between attitudes and behavior. In change processes this seeming irrationality often comes into play, often to the detriment of the collective change results.

The link between attitudes and behavior can be enhanced by, for example group-based discussing goals, performing tasks and learning of key competencies. If you want to influence counterproductive or unconscious behavior, this behavior must first be made aware with the persons concerned.

Business simulations offer a safe and experiential playground contributing to the release of creative energy and a fresh restart. There are numerous benefits games have on employee behavior. What are these benefits? What factors contribute to make them last? Simagine invests in searching for answers to these questions because games and science is a winning combination!

Deployment of simulation games or business games can reinforce the link between attitudes and behaviors by making behavior visible for participants and offer them the opportunity to give and receive feedback about concrete behavior. A condition is that the counselor provides a ‘safe’ environment. In a safe environment, participants will be better motivated to learn from—and with each other.

Well-designed, flexible, relevant and realistic simulation games facilitated by experienced professional, demonstrably work well in the above mentioned process of learning. When sufficient time is allowed for the session, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their own behavior, suggest improvements and implement their decisions in multiple game cycles. This increases awareness of behavioral patterns. The application of competency metrics links competence measurements with insight into behavior shown in the simulation game.

Figure 1: The game cycle is completed minimally 3x

Each participant specifies before the simulation game their own level of competence through a self-assessment (white paper: Competence Assessment in Hands-on Programs for ITIL® and PRINCE2®). During the simulation game participants will face the consequences of current behavior. This is reflected upon in group settings. The confrontation while playing and reflecting results in retrospective adjustment of views on one’s own behavior. The gap between actual and assumed then often becomes narrower.

The awareness of one’s knowledge and ability is displayed graphically on an individual and group level (see Figure 2). On the y-axis you find the score of the behavior as seen by peers and trainer, the x-axis shows the score formed by the own attitude and views.

Figure 2: Behavior as seen by self and others

Figure 2 shows the extent to which beliefs about the one’s own behavior and behavior as seen by others match, and what this means for the level of consciousness. For example, participant No. 10 has estimated himself high, while others do not recognize this in practice. The conclusion is that No. 10 has “blind spots” and thus unconsciously incompetent with regard to the subject scored. Participants 1, 7 and to a lesser extent 9, have assessed themselves lower than others judge them. We call this unconsciously competent, but the explanation could also be that they are unsure of their abilities, or that they set the bar higher for himself. That is why we always measure the confidence (self-efficacy) of participants, in this case it turned out that all three were somewhat perfectionist participants not aware of their strengths.

The Conclusion?

Simulation games can be properly used to narrow the gap between behavior and attitudes. In change management, this supports achieving the desired change results. By using measurement instruments Simagine can create added value for participants and organizations.

If you are interested in learning more about Simagine simulations, visit our website to learn more about the portfolio. The Simagine fact sheets are also available in the ITpreneurs Course Catalog.

Need more information? Please contact ITpreneurs.

Abram Janse
Abram Janse – Trainer Agile & Gamification consultant, connected with Simagine Game Expertise Centre - I am simplifying the complexity in organizational and behavioral change. It gives me energy to set up an approach, which makes it pleasant to work hard together! Also during trainings I employ various learning methods such as serious gaming, gamification and online learning platforms to help people get motivated to learn better and translate work to play. We need to move out of classrooms and away from dusty books! - “Turn your training into play, but always play seriously” (Bruce Lee)