UPS Turns to Video Games for Training

Troubled that its trainees were flunking out at a rate of 30 percent, United Parcel Service turned to video game simulations to train rookies how to spot sales leads and not drive over little kids.

The Wall Street Journal looked at UPS' training methods, conducted at a facility outside Washington, that drill driver cadets on the company's "340 Methods" - the processes designed by industrial engineers to shave as much time as possible off each delivery. One simulation has them perched in a driver's seat to "identify obstacles," by which one assumes bad directions or other delays in reaching a delivery destination, not, like a tree or a brick wall.

Another game aims to beef up drivers' intuition for spotting potential sales leads. They're expected to report back with such intel, so the sims test their ability to spot competitors' packages when they're on a delivery, which could signify an opportunity to snare a small business as a repeat user.

All of this sounds well and good - of about 1,600 trainees who have finished the prep course over the past three years, only 10 percent have failed the overall six-week training program. But the best part to me is the simulated slippery sidewalk course, which requires the trainees to wear a safety harness. I'd enlist in UPS just to fool around with that.

UPS Thinks Out of the Box on Driver Training [The Wall Street Journal]