It happened as an accident, one of those side-effects of doing research on teams. A colleague was researching teams and needed to select the best task for it. She already settled on a flight simulator game and analyzed the game in detail, comparing different missions. To pilot the task, guinea pigs were needed. Our small department was perfect for it, and she made all of us fly and crash planes. Also all students of the master program my department offers sit in a flight simulator (When I was studying this was a helicopter simulator). Here is a list of reasons why you should do this with your team:
- It is fun. Unless it gets ugly.
- If it gets ugly, you (finally) learned the true characters of your team members. For teams to be successful a lot needs to happen. It is not enough to have a bunch of bright people on a team. They need to work together. As a leader you need to manage the coordination within the team, but also with external stakeholders. Most teams are not static units, but have flowing boundaries. Team members join and leave. You need to reconfigure the work load distribution according to the expertise in your team. You might not have the time to build shared experiences and trust to help your team be effective. Your team needs to work on the fly. The flight simulator shows you in a couple of minutes how good team members are at coordinating their actions, how they are communicating, and also how they can handle pressure and failures.
- You can use it as a training tool. For example, you can give concrete and timely feedback on their communication, or the team’s ability to set goals and develop strategies to solve it. Or, if you have a very dominant team member, you can forbid him to speak or take the lead in the flight simulator. In that way the person can learn to rely on others.
- If your team is stuck on a problem, it might help in finding a solution. Being in a different environment can spur creativity .
- It helps build trust between team members. You can quickly create shared experiences within the team, which will benefit how they work.
Funny side note: I first misspelled the title as”Why you should put your team in a fight simulator”. That’s another possibility. But more research is needed to find out what the benefits are.