© 2015  - 2019 by Ed Leadership SIMS (ELS)

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Experience Design ProcessTM

(Click here for more detail on our methodology in practice)


When experience becomes the frame of reference from a design perspective, it can be focused at different levels within the system with each level feeding the next.


  • Individual or participant level: individual leaders can experience a self-paced exercise or if there is the opportunity to deliver the experience in a group or small team setting, then participants have the additional opportunity to benefit from the experience of others.

  • Leadership or practitioner level: we capture the experience or articulate the Best/Worst Practices and more importantly, the thinking that went into make those practices good or bad. 

  • Organizational level: the experience is deployed, blending the experiential component with other PD content and modalities (i.e. workshops, meetings, mentoring or on-the-job elements) that will ultimately enable success through the Blend. 


This deployment approach provides for a shared experience across the organization (building, district, state, or even the nation) that facilitates broader and deeper communication which fosters a stronger context for effective dialogue and execution. The shared experience gives anyone who has played the simulation a common reference point from both the situation as well as character perspective so that they can be referred to and understood.


This is the power of the Experience Design Process™:

  • Deliver the Experience – Individual Leader – Playing

  • Capture the Experience – Leader/Practitioner – Authoring

  • Deploy the Experience – Sharing

Engage – Storytelling

If we do not have engagement, we have nothing. Simulations derives their strength through the power of Storytelling. A good story can engage any level audience as evidenced by stories such as the seven Harry Potter books which were popular around the globe with all ages, and they were long books. In the context of simulation a good narrative simply needs to reflect the reality that the targeted participants face. A good narrative helps participants to see themselves in the story. This facilitates both the intellectual and emotional engagement that leads to impactful experiences to populate the experience portfolio.


Analyze – Critical Thinking

At our core, human beings are habit forming creatures and are therefore subject to ‘mindless’ decision making as we exhibit rote behavior, or if you are familiar with the Conscious-Competence matrix, Unconscious Competence. When it comes to leadership, which focuses on interpersonal and contextual issues, we can never by ‘unconscious’ about anything but must find a way to effectively Analyze situations or scenarios that we face and use Critical Thinking to navigate through them. Simulations provide an opportunity for deliberate practice around the Thinking that goes into decision making and establish muscle memory around the thinking as part of the doing.


Apply - Consequences

One of the key benefits of simulation is that leaders have the opportunity to experience (and sometimes suffer) the Consequences of their actions in a safe environment. Bad outcomes are a part of life, even when we make the correct decision, especially when we have complex stakeholder groups who demands are exclusive of each other as is the case for leaders in K-12 Education. By experiencing the consequences of our decisions, leaders have the opportunity to build resilience to deal with failure, as everyone makes mistakes, but also the negative fallout that can accompany even the best of decisions.


Learn – Judgment

Good judgment comes from experience and good experience often comes from Bad Judgment (Chad Checketts). This is what makes Experience the Best Teacher and allows us to learn and grow. Simulations capture the flow of time and encourage a more systems thinking approach to decision making by leaders so that they can process what they have learned in a realistic context and exercise better judgment in the contexts they face.


Evaluate – Scorecard

When it comes to effective Leadership, the job is filled with context-driven issues. For Simulations, the challenge is not to just make people more comfortable with making decisions but to be comfortable making the tough decisions and solving the tough problems. It is when there is no good answer or when the best answer also has significant negatives associated with it where the real challenge is. Having insight into what the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ tradeoffs are may help to shed brighter light on the decisions being made and help with better decisions or build resilience to deal with the bad. The Scorecard is essentially a Trade-off Report which provides students with insight into what the positives and negatives are or the costs and benefits associated with their decisions are and they can use better judgment.  


Create – Best Practices

A Simulation approach provides the opportunity to focus on what makes a best practice a ‘Best Practice’, and therefore establish learning with greater impact. By capturing the experience of the practitioner, there is the opportunity to put the practice into a context and allow other leaders to interact with it. What goes into the experience is going to be more along the lines of the best thinking (why and when) rather than the best practice (what and how). What we want to know is when the best practitioner made a decision, what were the alternative paths that he/she could have taken, and what would the consequences have been of those alternatives. This helps to manifest the judgment and critical thinking required to be effective. The outcome of this approach is a decision tree that enables other leaders to experience the thinking behind the best practice and play it through themselves.