Learning By Doing
By Clark Aldrich
Among the excellent books I've reviewed for this fine publication in the past is Mr. Aldrich's Simulations and the Future of Learning, published in 2003. This latest book lives up to the promise of that earlier effort, and even though Pfeiffer has bumped the price ten bucks, it belongs on your bookshelf. It is so good that even Paul Van Riper would have it in his collection. I will leave to you the job of finding out why. Hey, I can't tell you everything.
Whereas his prior book was a stage-setter for simulations as learning tools, this one is a hands-on effort that creates a greater context of understanding for company strategists and stakeholders at large. It's a how-to guide to help you plan, manage, execute, and assess the success of workplace simulations, and it even provides a glimpse into the future of the tool.
We all need role models and simulations fit the bill, at least in a manner of speaking. Pay particular attention to Section Four, "Managing the Simulation Process," which gets you into the always-hairy areas of planning and implementing your plans. In it you will learn, among other things, something that Yogi Berra might have said: Ninety percent of the job is creating core content, and the other 90 percent is building the material to support the core. As with any good idea that doesn't flow in the mainstream, it's not as easy as it sounds.
What gives me hope is Aldrich's hopeful conclusion at the end of the book: "What we think of as content, education, and training is finally, and permanently, changing." Could it be? —S.C.