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Large Group Process: Simureal

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Kristina Harkin

on 11 December 2010

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Transcript of Large Group Process: Simureal

SimuReal To bring together key members of an organization or a community in a way that allows them to
(a) experience/learn more about their interactions with one another,
(b) work on real issues,
(c) make decisions within a compressed time frame, and
(d) gain skills and understandings they can use to deal more effectively with future challenges in their “back home” setting. “if everyone in my organization could just see how we really work, things would change?”

Thus began SimuReal, created in the 1970s by Donald C. Klein. SimuReal holds a “mirror” to the organization about how it actually works (or does not work). It can be a powerful change agent, because everyone sees the impact of the system and can self-organize to improve it. When to Use:
• To shorten the time it takes to make or implement decisions
• To “test drive” a restructuring plan before it is implemented
• To address a complex problem or decision
• To uncover the structural/procedural blocks to solving a problem effectively
• The organization is prepared to engage in self-examination When Not to Use:
• To focus on creating a common vision
• To align the organization around a given vision/strategy
• To do team building
• The organization is in crisis
• To redesign an entire business process A one-day SimuReal workshop includes three stop-action periods, in which partici- pants do real work (action) and then debrief (analysis). The debriefing is focused on what people are noticing about how they work and how they contribute to the task. The goal is to help the organization learn from its experience and determine what to improve for the next action period. After a successful SimuReal, participants leave with new awareness, real work progress, and an improved organization. Before the event (~2-3 days), a design team works with facilitators to determine the task(s) or issue(s) to be addressed, who will participate, and how to lay out the “psychological map” of the organization. Once in SimuReal, the facilitators act as “cultural anthropologists” during the action periods and facilitate the analysis process. In a one-day workshop, SimuReal allows an organization to examine how it operates, and then spontaneously adjust structure or process to complete its work more successfully. This is different from basic simulation because it is not a role-play. SimuReal has real people doing real work. The goal of the workshop is to deal with a concrete, specific issue. What is simulated is the organizational structure in the confines of the room, although not necessarily the structure according to the organization chart!It is the “psychological” structure of the organization that is simulated. SimuReal is also a wonderful tool to assist restructuring efforts. If used at the kick- off point, you can identify issues that need to be addressed. If used in a “test-drive,” you can see how the new organization might respond to its work challenges, and what gaps exist in the design. Number of Participants:
• 35–125

Types of Participants:
• Flexible—can accommodate both internal and external stakeholders, as well as same-function or multifunction participants

Typical Duration:
• Preparation: 1-day design team meeting, 2 days in additional preparation
• Process: 1 day
• Follow-up: Typically ranges from immediate to a year, depending on initial contract with clients, SimuReal outcomes, and leadership needs in implementing those outcomes. Kristina Harkin References provided by:


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