Playing Wii Sports

Image by MagnusK via Flickr

Have you ever spent time on a simulator? This is the time of year when I find myself doing just that: using a treadmill instead walking in the fresh air, hitting balls on an indoor range instead of the golf course. Maybe you play Wii Sports or something using the Kinect. There are all kinds of devices which simulate a real-world experience. They have them in business too, and they suffer from the same flaws.

What’s a business simulator?  To me they’re people or companies that appear to be real but are pale imitations of the true thing.  You’ve run into them:  associates who would rather negotiate deal points with you then with an actual client or peers who criticize a presentation someone makes without ever having stood up and given one themselves.

On a broader scale, there are entire businesses that I think of as simulations.  They have a product but no plan.  You can find them easily by asking about their business model.   I’ve done that and been answered “oh, we’re kind of working on that.”  They all live in Strawberry Fields – nothing is real.  It’s a simulation.

With respect to business, simulations are best left to spreadsheets – the contemplation of “what if” scenarios.  Maybe usability testing falls into that bucket as well.  People-related things don’t – that’s very real.  Strangely, I’m an advocate for role-playing exercises as long as everyone involved knows that they’re practice.  In my mind that’s not the same as thinking you’re in the real world while in actuality you’re participating in a pale imitation of it.

My daughters are big fans of the “Sim” series – everything from farms to cities to families.  Maybe you’re one of the folks simulating being a crime-lord.  I don’t think you, or they, ever confuse those activities with reality.  How come when it comes to business, people sometimes do?


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