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Leadership Development Simulations: Breakthrough Systems

What is Breakthrough Systems?

This simulation is designed to increase the performance level of first-line managers and supervisors as well as the teams they manage.

Breakthrough Systems uses the Chain Gang simulation which is a manufacturing process in which teams produce weight-bearing paper chains. It focuses on the basics of effective first-line management; i.e., how to make the workplace support high-performing individuals and teams. Participants work in small groups throughout the day learning and applying specific management tools that support individual and group “breakthrough” experience, achieving profitability under constraints that originally seem impossible. More than 21,000 participants have used the skills they learned in Chain Gang as a springboard for achieving outstanding results back on the job, saving organizations millions of dollars in improved performance.

Objectives

1. Define the requirements for breakthrough performance:

  • Set clear expectations for quantity and quality of output.
  • Provide simple tools of self-monitored performance feedback.
  • Make sure the resources (skills, tools, materials, information, authority) are adequate.

2. Practice methods that cause breakthrough performance for different kinds of tasks:

  • Routine tasks – repetitive tasks with well-known but demanding output requirements.
  • Projects – integrating diverse tasks with single, unique outputs.
  • Trouble-shooting tasks – dealing with uncertain demands and emergencies.

3. Practice the skills of performance coaching:

  • Encouragement – reinforcing desirable performance.
  • Advice – providing information and demonstrations to improve deficient skills.
  • Discipline – stopping undesirable behavior .

Target Audience

  • First-line managers and supervisors in manufacturing or service industries
  • Project managers

Key Skills

  • Group decision-making – consultative decision-making rather than consensus
  • Setting team goals, basic cost analysis and profitability planning
  • Task analysis and definition of performance roles and expectations
  • Providing simple tools for self-monitored performance feedback
  • Configuring resources to facilitate employee-initiated corrective action
  • Coaching with behavioral reinforcement and advice giving

Course Materials

  • Text: Daniels, William R. Breakthrough Performance: Managing for Speed & Flexibility. Mill Valley, CA.: ACT Publishing, 1995.
  • Participant Workbook
  • Class size may vary from 7 to more than 100 participants.

Concept and simulation developed by William R. Daniels at American Consulting & Training, Inc.

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