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Reality Bites: How can simulations support family business continuity?

Chris Robichaud and Devin DeCiantis talk about how simulations can support continuity

simulations involve family leaders and decision-makers wrestling with problems, providing solutions and absorbing the consequences of their decisions

The ability to enact strategic, adaptive solutions when facing difficult and sometimes novel challenges is a defining characteristic of expert family business leadership. But how can this essential skill be developed outside the arena where the stakes for the family enterprise are high? Simulations provide the answer and are among the best learning tools available to hone the craft of reconciling tough trade-offs in the family business context.

At their core, simulations involve family leaders and decision-makers wrestling with problems, providing solutions and absorbing the consequences of their decisions. Simulations can be designed around many learning objectives, not only helping family businesses develop additional expertise in the areas of strategy, ethics, and leadership, but also allowing them to experience the emotional aspect that accompanies the many internal and external challenges that family businesses confront.

In this episode of LGA Lighthouse, Chris Robichaud, LGA’s resident expert on simulations and Devin DeCiantis, managing partner at LGA, talk about how simulations can support continuity, including:

  • Examples of real-world simulations and how organisations and authorities have used them to respond effectively during crises.
  • The psychological resistance that business leaders can exhibit towards simulations and ways to overcome them. No simulation can account for the nuances of reality, but by applying outcomes to real-life where possible, participants are more likely to engage with the process.
  • Typical challenges business leaders and organisations face, such as succession planning or crisis management, and the benefit of simulating these scenarios.


  • The value of a debrief following a simulation and why a professional should be involved to facilitate productive future engagement. It’s common for participants to learn something about themselves and their colleagues during a simulation, but acting on that insight appropriately is critical.


  • Using simulations to develop an adaptive leadership framework that can prepare an organisation for even the most daunting obstacle.


  • How rising generations value the interactive learning that simulations offer and are more inclined to incorporate takeaways into their interactions with other family members and enterprise settings.


  • The kinds of simulations that could benefit family business leaders as they face the long-term consequences of the COVID–19 pandemic.


The scope with which simulations can accurately model future events is improving rapidly. Innovations in augmented and virtual reality suggest an exciting future for simulations as they offer experiences that are increasingly more accurate and personal. For family firms, simulations should form one part of a broader portfolio of educational initiatives that explore long-term solutions that support family business continuity.

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