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The Navigator
Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence
Volume: # 12October/November/December 2011

President's Message


As we approach the holiday season we sincerely hope you will be able to enjoy the closing celebrations of 2011 with one of life's most important gifts - shared experiences with friends and family. And we wish you the all best for 2012. Happy holidays from all of us at OSI!

 Bruce Griffiths  


Bruce's signature


   Bruce Griffiths

OSI's Simulated Oktoberfest


First Time Ever
For over a decade now, OSI has helped design and deliver a series of unique leadership simulations developed to teach the complex competencies of Strategic Thinking, Business Systems Thinking, Financial Acumen, and advanced "soft" skills like Diplomacy and Influence.

The OSI October calendar contained a first - three relatively rare programs back to back. The month began with our publicly available FoodWorks simulation delivered in a workshop for 30 high potential managers in the Memphis-based ServiceMaster organization. Following immediately, were two programs containing custom simulations developed for Starwood Hotels and Resorts in White Plains, NY and Avery Dennison, in Boston, MA.

Why Simulations Now?
We think this surge in the use of simulations has been prompted by a combination of several factors. An immediate motivation comes from current demographic shifts. As Millennials replace the retiring Boomer generation, organizations are compelled to address a looming leadership gap. Formal leadership training provides a partial answer to help prepare future leaders. But skepticism about the efficacy of classroom-based programs that obligate key leaders (with hefty salaries) for dedicated time has demanded that learning and development organizations deliver truly superior experiences. Good science and consistently positive participant reaction have surfaced simulation-based training as a preferred option.

Our experience has shown a consistent and exceptional, positive student reaction (called by one client, the "wow" factor) to simulation-based instruction. But the best rationale for use of simulations is the proven learning advantages they provide, namely:

  • By using a simulation program, learning objectives can be realized in the full business context in which they will be applied. As Peter Senge has pointed out, "decontextualizing" a course like Financial Acumen by teaching it as a four hour lecture, not only limits transferability, but erases much of the meaning (and consequently, the motivation) for the learner. However, having to manage a business over a 6 year simulated period with a team of leaders, while being held accountable by shareholders for key financial metrics, provides context and practical meaning.

  • Simulations blur the line between actual and training experience. By blending a large scale behavioral simulation with real operational and financial feedback (delivered by a computer model), participants are experiencing the complexity, accountability, and interpersonal dynamics of actual corporate leadership.

  • The simulation itself, not the instructor, provides the feedback, and consequently much of the "teaching." Experience IS, after all, the best teacher. And just like transparent job goals providing the best feedback, using simulations to provide immediate feedback provides a compelling learning environment.

Not a Video Game
A caveat to our understanding and use of simulations to teach leadership competence, is an absolutely necessary combination of the classic large scale behavioral simulation with a realistic computer model of complete full business system. It's only this premium blend that combines the dynamic interpersonal milieu of a leadership team acting and deciding together in the context of operational, associate, and financial reality. If the best way to learn a complex skill is in the context in which it must be applied, then strategic leadership cannot be learned in front of a computer monitor. The simulation must primarily be behavioral and represent the challenges and decisions that senior leaders confront over time.

Copyright 2011, Organization Systems International, San Diego, CA, USA

Polaris Users' Group Conference

OSI conducted its first ever users' group in Madison, WI in September. It was a great opportunity for Polaris users and prospective users to gather together and share ideas, learn what's new and upcoming, and pick the brain of the creator, Bruce Griffiths. Thank you to everyone who attended. We look forward to making this a recurrent event in the coming years.


Happy Holidays!
OSI would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families an enjoyable holiday season as well as a prosperous New Year in 2012.
In This Issue
President's Message
OSI's Simulated Oktoberfest
Quick Links
Connect With Us
View our profile on LinkedIn
OSI 30 Years
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating 30 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.


OSI Clients Include:

American Greetings 
Blizzard Entertainment
Bowling Green State University
Dow Corning Corp.
GE Capital
Insurance Company of the West
Limited Brands
Nike, Inc.
Northwest Pipe
Portland State University
Schneider Trucking Company
Standard Insurance Company
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
State Auto Insurance
The Walt Disney Company
Wendy's International Inc.