AROUSAL by Management Reality
How successful is AROUSAL ?
In its first ten years AROUSAL was used with over 30,000 managers on a range of management development programmes including 'tailor-made' courses for some of the largest contractors in the UK and by major international construction, property and consulting organisations. In 1984 it was introduced to the USA on The Construction Executive Development Program at Stanford University. This was attended by senior executives and project managers from some of the largest and most sophisticated contractors and purchasers of construction in the world. AROUSAL was also used extensively by non-construction firms as well as by numerous universities and other educational institutions throughout the world.
AROUSAL has been extremely well received by both managers and their sponsoring organisations and by students and their universities. Moreover, many past users consider that AROUSAL represents a major step in organisational and management development. In 1987 this contribution was publicly recognised by the announcement of a Building Innovation Award for the development of AROUSAL.
Whilst these achievements could date the system as being something more appropriate to the 1980s, this is not the case. AROUSAL is updated regularly and the software has been rewritten a number of times so as to bring it in line with contemporary IT environments and expectations. It continues to be used across the world by leading companies and universities.
Why is AROUSAL so successful?
In its citation for the winning Information Technology entry to the Building Innovation Award in 1987, the AROUSAL corporate simulation system was judged to be “a superb innovation aimed at stimulating new ways of thinking and of approach…... the system has pioneered simulation in the building industry, aimed essentially at organisational and management development, not only in general terms but also in the context of the firm.”
Since that award, the world of IT has changed out of all recognition. So too have the development needs of managers and their organisations. Yet, AROUSAL continues to be an important and powerful vehicle for management development in the construction and related industries.
Why does it continue to be successful?
One of the reasons for this success is the extensive research undertaken before the system was developed. First, the starting point for the design of the system was painstaking research into how managers learn and develop, and what makes a successful experience from the points of view of both a course member and the course facilitator. Secondly, much of the material used by the simulation system draws on major investigations into those factors which influence the success and failure of construction firms. Thirdly, the system development work was undertaken in close consultation with the industry, producing an approach which was credible from both a training and business perspective. The resulting system has been used regularly with international executives and yet it has also been used with those just entering the industry and with university students. It has been experienced by thousands of managers and students from over 20 countries on five continents, some of whom have had little or no connection with construction.
Is AROUSAL up-to-date?
Whilst the philosophy of AROUSAL has not changed, the materials have developed in response to the changing nature of business and advances in IT. A significant development was the Windows version. This incorporates all of the original options as well as new ones, for example links between AROUSAL databases and Excel. These extended the versatility of AROUSAL and added to the many features valued in the DOS version. Also, the opportunity has been taken to transfer the audio-visual materials accompanying the case study to a multimedia production. However, with changing skills, needs and expectations the case study materials are now much less important to creating an appropriate learning environment than in the 1980s. The complete system including documentation runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and in most instances on Windows 95 and 98!
Who developed AROUSAL?
AROUSAL was developed by Peter Lansley whilst at Ashridge Management College. In 1984 he moved to the University of Reading where he became Professor of Construction Management and he established Management Reality, an organisation devoted to developing the AROUSAL philosophy.
He has been assisted by many others. The US version was created in close collaboration with Dr Henry Irwig, who was then at MIT, but for many years has been working in the property and construction sector. The Australian version was created with the encouragement and help of David Picken of Deakin University. Major software developments were led by Ioannis Fitsakis who now works in the risk management sector. The development and delivery of AROUSAL management programmes for senior level executives owes much to the guidance and involvement of Mona Hipwell, formerly of Ashridge Management College. More recent development work has been stimulated by discussions with regular users of the system including: Liz Burnett and Bob Cleveland (CITB/Construction Skills), Dr Willy Sher (Newcastle University, Australia and Professor Raymond Levitt (Stanford University).