By Mark Jankowski, Co-Founder, Shapiro Negotiations Institute
3-D movies have made a comeback and the popularity of 3-D TV is catching on quicker than we could have imagined, so we can safely assume it’s only a matter of time before 3-D Internet follows suit. That said, what does the emergence of 3-D virtual worlds mean for the training business?
3-D virtual worlds is an umbrella term for the industry that is developing around technology such as Second Life, Reaction Grid, Telepresence, VenuGen, Protosphere, and about 20 or so other platforms currently being used. These platforms are distinguished from other “virtual” technology such as GoTo Meetings, WebEx, or online asynchronous training. 3-D virtual worlds have evolved from purely gaming environments to platforms on the cutting edge of the training and development industry.
With the help of 3-D virtual worlds, we now can engage in training by observing and coaching participants even when they are a thousand miles away from us. Participants in this type of virtual training no longer just passively listen to teacher tell a story. Instead, they’re able to “live” the story—virtually.
Here are some examples of how virtual training using 3-D virtual worlds can become a simple and memorable framework for programs on effective negotiation. I’ve tried all of the following training tactics and found some great results. The following are pedagogical approaches I’ve used for virtual training.
1. Immersive Storytelling: 3-D virtual worlds can take you on a tour of different scenes that provide immersive storytelling experiences and help you better understand how to prepare for a negotiation. By placing yourself virtually in these scenes, the four cornerstones of effective preparation come alive.
In this type of approach, you can walk into a stadium skybox and watch an avatar in a baseball uniform describe how precedentsof the salaries of other players impacted his negotiation.
Next, you can journey to the North Pole to listen as an avatar dressed as Santa Claus discusses the importance of alternativeswhen negotiating compensation from the mall hiring him to take pictures with kids.
Interestsare discussed in a concert hall and deadlinesat the foot of Mouth Everest. Along the way, you work through case studies reinforcing learning points while providing ample opportunity to discuss and debate the applicability of the learning points to your current negotiators.
Retention of the material is heightened because of the unique use of visual, audio, and kinesthetic approaches. After a training program like this, you can almost close your eyes and remember the baseball player citing precedents in the skybox or Santa talking about alternatives, making the experience that much more effective and memorable.
2. Identity Assumption Role Play: In Identity Assumption Role Play, participants are given avatars that enable them to fully “live” within the role that person is being asked to play. For instance, imagine yourself in a role play where you are a general in the military who must negotiate for a key resource located say…in the Amazon. In a 3-D virtual environment, you are given an avatar in full military regalia, with a firearm at your side. The other person in the role play has been asked to play a tree hugger who possesses what the general wants. The tree hugger is wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and a ponytail. You find yourself in a thick jungle. The tree hugger is belligerent. You see the steely gun on your hip. Time is running out. What will you do?
When we’ve done this type of training before, we’ve received great feedback from past participants with comments including: “I was so mad at the hippie, I was trying to figure out which button to push to shoot my gun.” And “I was not going to cooperate after the military invaded MY land.” In real-life classrooms, people disassociate themselves from role plays such as the ones described above. In 3-D virtual environments, they become fully engaged and end up having emotional reactions not seen when the role play is conducted in real life front of the room in corporate training programs. This heightened emotion leads to embedded memories and, therefore, increases learning and retention.
Mark Jankowski co-founded Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) in 1995 and has written two books on negotiation, “The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins—Especially You!” and “Bullies, Tyrants & Impossible People: How To Beat Them Without Joining Them,” which have formed the basis for SNI’s Negotiation, Influencing, Conflict Management, and Relationship Equity training programs. As a result of SNI’s corporate clients asking for innovative ways to deliver distance learning, in 2008, Jankowski developed a separate division of SNI called Virtual Training Partners. Over the last three years, Jankowski has come to be considered an expert in the application of virtual technology for training and development of employees around the globe. For more information, visit http://www.Shapironegotiations.com.