Learning with Project Management Simulations


By Rüdiger Geist

Zurich, Switzerland

Simulations support the increase of competences by means of defined learning areas, tailor-made complexity and roll-specific decision-making and room for manoeuvre. Simulations therefore allow dealing with problems and authentic realistic situations in so-called “error-tolerant environments”.

Together, the team develops and implements appropriate strategies for action. The consequences of the actions are immediately experienced and over the entire simulation, long-term effects are also experienced. Thus, game plans are experimental and experiential learning environments (“experiential learning”).

What makes simulations so special?

The following components distinguish (“experiential learning” -based) simulations of conventional training and development forms (such as case studies):

  1. Simulations are empirical and experience-based. The playful execution allows “learning-by-doing” without real risks.
  2. Simulations are stochastic. The contents and complexities are adapted to the participants, but the actual sequence is randomised. Thus, extremely life-related situations are created, as in no other form of learning. The participants literally immerse themselves in a simulated reality where the discussion about learning topics is replaced by action.
  3. Simulations are dramatic. The exciting and emotional character of a simulation focusses attention and sharpens the senses. The participants anchored what they had learned.
  4. Simulations are (still) unusual. The uniqueness and thus the unpredictability of the course and the context act as “equalizer”. Nobody is perceived as an expert, and hierarchical barriers are thus easily broken.
  5. Simulations are transferable. The behaviour in the microcosm “simulation” does not differ from the de facto behaviour in the professional life. New findings from the simulation are transferred to practice.
  6. Simulations stimulate reflection. Much stronger than other forms of learning, simulations stimulate a comparison with practical experience.


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About the Author

Rüdiger Geist

Zurich, Switzerland



Rüdiger Geist, PfMP, PMP, IPMA Level B is the Managing Director of [email protected] GmbH, a Swiss-based consultancy specializing in coaching, consulting, outsourcing and training in the areas of Project, Programme and Project Portfolio Management. He is also Associate Professor of Project Management at Kalaidos Fachhochschule (Zurich). In the past he also lectured for the International Institute of Management (Fribourg) and IFA AG (Zurich). He was Managing Director for Agora Associates GmbH during 2007-2008, where he was engaged in consulting, coaching and training in project, program and portfolio management. He was previously lead PM coach, project manager and project portfolio manager for Credit Suisse; senior project manager, coach and portfolio manager for SPOL AG; assistant CFO, contract manager, project manager, and coach for CSC Switzerland; project designer, manager and coach for CSC PLOENZKE AG in Wiesbaden, Germany; and information systems developer for BVV Versicherungsverein des Bankgewerbes AG, Freie University and others in Berlin.

Rüdiger has a Diploma in Political Science from Freie University Berlin (1988) and in Informationsorganisator from Siemens/Nixdorf, Berlin. He is also a CMMI and SPICE certified assessor. Rüdiger holds an IPMA Level B project management certification and the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®), as well as the PMOS (CSC) and a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University (GWU) in the USA. Rüdiger has authored papers and presentations at IPMA and PMI conferences and sat on the board of the PMI Switzerland Chapter as Vice President Education & Certification.

Fluent in English and German, Rüdiger is based in Zurich and can be contacted at [email protected].