James van der Westhuizen, founder of Knowhouse, Celemi’s partner in South Africa, is one of Celemi’s most experienced facilitators. About James, Klas Mellander, founder of Celemi, says, “James has an ability to use our simulations in ways far beyond what I thought was possible.”

Meet James van der Westhuizen:

For James, it all started back in 1998 with the program Celemi Tango™.

“I facilitate this leadership program as well as other Celemi solutions around the world, in order to achieve organizational change”, James explains.

Today, he is an experienced business simulation facilitator, still enjoying helping both individuals and companies learn how to better run their businesses – in a safe environment.

“Now almost 15 years and hundreds of sessions later, I am still in awe of just how much people from the four corners of the African continent have learnt about their businesses by participating in a Celemi business simulations”, James says.

James likes comparing business challenges with challenges in sports, as a way of explaining why participating in business simulation is such a useful way of learning:

Sports people have an amazing advantage over business people, as they can practice. They can try the same shot over and over until they have internalized it and can then take it to the field in a competitive setting, he says.

Business people are always on the field, and they only get one chance to hit the sweet spot, often with so much riding on it. The needs of customers, the interests of shareholders, the livelihoods of employees, are all hinging on decisions made in the heat of the moment, and for which there is no safe practice field…

James remembers the first time he ever participated in a business simulation:

I was in a light-filled conference room in Malmö, Sweden, far from my African base. I had been in consulting and running consulting teams for some years and yet – right there in front of my eyes – was a scale model of the knowledge based business coming alive, he remembers. I could try things, put crazy ideas into practice and discuss multi-year strategies with the same passion a sports team would discuss the first half of a football match at half time. It was exhilarating! I would never be able to stomach boring didactic training again, much less expose my clients to it! I discovered the privilege of practice, and my journey with Celemi begun…