With the rapid introduction of new technologies and
information systems, the world of many managers is becoming increasingly
unnatural. More and more, it is becoming possible to 'fit' together real
life with computer-based systems. Marion Devine looks at a new form
of computer-simulated learning.
|Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly valid way of
tackling organisational problems, but so far this has only taken the form
of small, restricted expert systems. Now, a training tool called AROUSAL
binds the worlds of reality and computer even closer, and signals a revolutionary
new direction for management development.
AROUSAL stands for 'a real organisation unit simulated as life'. The system is a highly sophisticated model of a medium sized organisation. It has a number of applications, ranging from aiding succession planning by identifying future leaders, to helping managers to adapt to change and to come to understand the strategic and organisational implications of decision making.
In its present form, AROUSAL is centred on the construction industry, but it is capable of adaptation to a wide range of businesses and industrial setting. In the last four years, nearly 1000 managers have used AROUSAL and an executive development programme is now held regularly at Stanford University, USA. This new training approach originated with Peter Lansley, formerly a researcher at Ashridge Management School and now a reader in the construction management department at Reading University.
Games, gimmicks and theory
|'I have tried to take the world of the manager and, through simulation,
expand it by giving him or her opportunities to learn and use new skills',
he commented. Too often, managers are technically very competent
but less strong in organisational and managerial issues.
the reins of a business, new horizons appear and their understanding of
their industry widens slowly'. This has proved particularly helpful
to managers who have come up through a single function or discipline.
General and middle managers are not the only ones to benefit. 'As you see your actions fitting together and working, you become more and more involved', says the managing director of a small company recently taken over by a large group. The director was sent on the course to help him break out of his specialist field, to form good working relationships with the directors of the other subsidiaries, and to learn about the group's style of management and corporate identity.
Too close for comfort
| Learning to work in a team is often a particularly crucial
lesson. Many managers discover for the first time that they need to have
a proper team behind them. Tackling a problem with managers from widely
differing technical backgrounds both increases a trainee's knowledge and
demonstrates the value of a multi-disciplined approach to business.
Marion Devine is Co-editor of Businesswoman and an established management journalist
Scanned from: Manpower Policy and Practice, Winter 1986
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