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Business Simulations

I have encountered a few different business simulations throughout my studies. The purpose of these simulations usually is, quite frankly, to simulate decision-making in business management. This article introduces four different business simulations and my experiences of them.

 

MyLab – Strategy Simulation

A strategy simulation by Pearson was a vital part in the business-level strategy course in the Strategic Management program at Tilburg University, since 50 % of grading was based on various parts of the simulation. The simulation was turn-based, and the role of the player was to be a board director. Each turn the player had to choose four out of six topics to be dealt in a meeting, and after choosing these topics, one out of four decisions had to be made. The player did not thus know the available options and full descriptions of the topics beforehand.

 

The game used various different performance indicators that consisted of both financial and non-financial performance indicators. The players could, therefore, focus on some indicators or try to increase the performance of the company as a whole. The main indicator was still the share price, which was affected by the other indicators.

The game was interesting due to its rich amount of qualitative and quantitative data and the need to drop two decisions each round, thus emphasizing the issue of time and focus. However, I was not fully pleased of the execution of the game, as many of the actions were possible to justify during the class discussions, but the game considered actions better or worse by somewhat mechanic methods. The multiple-choice approach regarding decision-making was sometimes a bit too simplistic, although this is very common with business simulations. On the other hand, the game enabled the weighting of different focus areas and actions.

 

Balanced Scorecard Simulation

The Balanced Scorecard Simulation was an illustration of the balanced scorecard and its use. The game was a part of the strategy implementation course and the game was played in teams. The game consisted of setting strategies and objectives and choosing appropriate actions. The balanced scorecard is divided into four objective areas, namely financial, customer, internal process and learning & growth objectives, and these different objectives had various sub-objectives. The player had to choose up to 20 objectives, and each round the player had several initiatives to choose from which were limited with a budget.

 

A key part of the game was to find the correct initiatives regarding the objectives and analyze how much effect they had. Due to the limitations of actions and objectives, the player had to weigh the usefulness of different actions in order to choose the most effective objectives at the right time. We had several practice rounds before the actual game which allowed us to check different outcomes of various actions.

 

The game was very analytical, which had both good and bad implications. The game was useful in showing the importance of analytical interpretation of data, but on the other hand, the game was very mechanic. There was no qualitative data or other connection to the issues, the game was all about mechanic decision-making backed with data analysis. As a data analysis tool, the game was the best out of these simulations, but otherwise the game was more one-dimensional than it maybe had to be.

 

Change Management: Power and Influence V2

The change management simulation was an individual simulation and a part of the strategy implementation course. The game had four different scenarios where the player was either the CEO or a manager. In both roles, the player had an urgent and a non-urgent situation, and the goal of the game was to make the company employees to accept the change as quickly as possible.

 

The player had to choose between a various of actions and the targets of them. Some of the actions were company-wide, whereas the others targeted only several people. Some actions were able to be used less frequently than others. The trick of the game was to use correct and the most effective actions on right people at the right time.

 

Technically speaking, the game was nice as it illustrated different connections of employees, the difference between being the CEO and a manager and also the issue of urgency. Besides that the game felt the most mechanic of these simulations. Once you learned the mechanics of the game, it was almost button-smashing. In addition, there were no practice rounds, so it was also easy to lose points by simply not realizing the true aspects of the game.

 

CESIM Global Challenge

I had a business simulation by CESIM during my BScBA studies at the Aalto University School of Business. I know that there are similar simulations and this kinds of simulations are typical for capstone courses, as it was the case with us. In this simulation, a team of students were responsible for managing a company and setting actions in all business functions varying from marketing to finance and development to manufacturing. The game was thus about manually setting choices instead of choosing from a pool of options.

 

A key part of the game was also the fact that teams competed against each other. This meant that the actions of teams influenced each other. This competitive spirit made the game very interesting and I heard that the executive programs usually have simulations like this, also here in Tilburg. Perhaps the only drawback of the game was that the game mostly worked by two different generic strategies, cost leadership or differentiation, but otherwise the game was very close to actual business management as a simulation.

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