ORMIT: Virtual Education

For almost a decade, Pieter Verdaasdonk has worked as Senior Consultant at ORMIT, a Dutch organization that offers traineeships and training programs for different types of organizations. Simenco’s The Business Challenge is a frequently used game in ORMIT’s programs.

As a consultant, Verdaasdonk is responsible for educating trainees, but his daily activities entail more. He conducts custom programs for a wide range of organizations and supports employees and managers in their development.

“At ORMIT we always look at personal leadership as a basis for the result.  In that way, training programs are developed from a more personal approach,” Verdaasdonk says.

The Power of the Game

The Business Challenge was created from a very different perspective. It focuses on the business side of value creation in organizations, resulting in a welcome contrast with the other training sessions that are more about individual development.

In the game, participants learn how a business is managed in practice; they learn how to work together from different perspectives and how to make a profit.

According to Verdaasdonk, there are three key elements that make this game so valuable:

  • Competition
  • Collaboration
  • Looking at management from different perspectives.

In The Business Challange, trainees work together in a virtual management team. Each team member has his or her own unique specialism.

“They all look at making profit from a different angle, so they also have different ideas about how to become successful as an organization. Having to deal with these differences, by figuring out how their specialism views profit, combined with winning the game and working together as a team, is a very attractive aspect of this game,” according to Verdaasdonk.

Something Different for Participants

“Participants consider the game a breath of fresh air”, says Verdaasdonk. “What they love about the game, is the fact that they don’t have to worry about what they feel and how they feel about that for a change. But that they can just have fun and play a game that is above all about winning. And by doing so, they learn more about business and about making money.”

“Learning happens in practice, not in a two-day course in some training center,” Verdaasdonk says.

And that is exactly what The Business Challenge aims to simulate: realistic situations with complex decision-making processes.

Benefit for the Trainer

For a trainer, supervising a serious game is very different from teaching in a classroom. “During the game, I am part of the background and make some observations. When we take a break, I give the trainees some pointers. But I make sure to let them play as much as possible, because the three elements (competition, collaboration and different perspectives) are incorporated in the game so well.”

The Business Challenge is an existing game, but it can be adapted to meet specifiek learning goals and to focus more on particular skills.

“The game is as solid as a house, but the rooms can be redecorated every time we play,” Verdaasdonk says.

We can make the oil prices rocket or have an MT (management team) dismiss an employee. By making these changes, we can create tension between the different specialisms. How do they deal with that? That is what we want them to learn.”

Serious Games in Times of Distance Education

Learning online has never been as important as it is now. The Business Challenge has had its first completely online session.

“Serious gaming is location independent, so Simenco is prepared for what we are facing right now. The scope of serious games is unlimited. I’m a believer.

Participants experience realistic decision-making processes. Combined with looking at management from a business perspective, it makes a lot of sense to me that we often choose to include serious games in training programs.”