A phrase you do not ever want to hear from a pilot entering a cockpit or a surgeon opening up your skull: “I thought I would just get in there and see what happens.” Nope. Not getting on that plane or on that table. In addition, the food is terrible in both places.

The fact is that simulation is one of the most effective methods to learn new skills, reinforce behaviors, and prepare for worst case scenarios. If you are a patient on the table in the hands of someone you may have not spent more than 10 minutes with in the Pre-Op area, you are hoping they have gone through simulation training. The alternative is on-the-job learning, which is fine if you are the 100th time they have done this. If you are number two, well…

Simulation allows surgeons, and aspiring surgeons, to train away from patients. They learn the requisite skills and get to engage in the deliberate practice to master them. As technology changes and new procedures are invented at an accelerating pace, simulations will be the only way for even the most talented medical professionals to keep up.

For those of us in business, law, and other winner take all disciplines, this is critical as well. While no one may be at risk of dying on the table, second chances are not readily available. However, simulations create second chances (and more) when the world doesn’t.

Here are the proper ingredients of a simulation for your business:

  1. Assess the current proficiency of the participants and build a scenario that is at or slightly beyond their current capability.
  2. Conduct a Simulation Prebriefing that defines the parameters, desired outcomes, constraints, rules, and grading criteria.
  3. Allow the learner(s) to prepare an action plan and build a team. If the task is done with a team, so is the simulation.
  4. Identify team member roles and allow time for planning and rehearsal.
  5. Start the simulation in a realistic environment with pre-planned, unexpected challenges and changes to the exercise.
  6. Conduct an After Action Review to discuss what happened, what was supposed to happen, why those things happened, and how to improve them in the future.
  7. Use simulation results to prescribe deliberate practice assignments and team rehearsal to prepare for the next simulation event.


As Dr. Konstantinos Gallis, Vascular Surgeon at the University Hospital in Regensburg in Germany, states:

“I firmly believe that simulation training is the future for surgeons. I definitely think simulation training will become a obligatory and integrated part of the education. Every physician who believes in good education will discover that simulation training provides an excellent opportunity to become a better surgeon…when you think of it, simulation for surgeons works the exact same way as for pilots. A pilot is not allowed to fly an airplane without having to train for a decided number of hours. I am sure the majority of patients would want to trust their surgeon as much as they trust their pilot, as both flying and undergoing surgery are quite delicate situations!”

Your business can take some lessons from a world class surgeon who believes in simulations as the catalyst that takes performers to the next level of greatness.