If you are a professional and if you haven’t heard about business simulation games, this article is a must-read for you. Most of the top business schools use management games for MBA students in their classrooms. Many top companies use them to train their future leaders in management concepts. It’s a fun and practical way to learn about topics that are traditionally thought to be dry and boring.
Breaking up the terminology, most professionals are aware of what ‘simulation’ means and many use them in their day-to-day jobs as well. Consider the software testing where various scenarios are simulated to see how the software package would behave.
Simulation games are also quite popular, albeit in a non-business environment. Microsoft’s hugely popular flight simulator is a good example. You don’t need to be a pilot to try it out, but you can get a pretty good idea of the complexity that’s involved in flying a plane.
Business management simulation games take the same concept and adapt it to the management world. The idea is to take real world problems in various professional spheres (finance, supply chain, human resources, marketing, product development etc), build models depicting various scenarios / challenges and allow folks to test their own skills.
One of the best takeaways from a top-tier MBA is getting access to some really well-designed simulation and strategy games like Capsim Capstone and BSG Online. The common approach is to form study groups and give each group access to the software which allows them to run through the simulations independently or compete with each other.
There are several advantages of including simulation games in the MBA learning curriculum.
– Practical: All the management books, the case studies and exams scores mean little if you can’t put them to practice. Business Strategy Simulation games are a great way to put the newly gained theoretical skills to practical use.
– Limited Risk: There’s very little to lose. There’s no real money, business, credibility at stake. If you perform really bad, the only thing that will get hurt are your grades (and to some extent your ego).
– Wide Exposure: Simulation games put you in the driver’s seat. You get exposed to many disciplines and you get to take strategic decisions in each. This would be virtually impossible to expect when you join a company fresh out of college.
– Rapid learning: In the real world, even if you were lucky to get into a decision makers role, the learning curve would be slow and painful. You take a bunch of actions and the impact is felt in the subsequent time period (next week / month / quarter / year). Almost all the good business simulators include a feature to fast-forward the timeline. You evaluate the current scenario, form a strategy, specify your decisions and hit the ‘Submit decisions’ button. The simulator processes your decisions and takes you to the next phase in the business.
Along with all the pros, there are some not-so-great aspects with the management simulation games software used in business schools. When you compare and review Capstone / Capsim vs BSG Online vs Markstrat, here are some common issues you’ll see which prompts many to explorer alternatives.
– Pricing: Most of the good ones are too expensive for individuals. It’s primarily a B2B model. The usage rights are generally sold in bulk to institutions like universities, business schools and companies. The lowly professional without the backing of a business school or company wouldn’t find it to be a practical option.
– Complexity: For commercial (justifying the high price tag) as well as credibility (replicating real life scenarios as close as possible) reasons, these tools invariably pack too much complexity that makes the learning curve pretty tough. Also, with the plethora of features in them, it is very likely that you’d probably end up using only a small fraction (10-15%) of the functionality.
– Learning: The law of diminishing returns applies to these simulation games as well. Beyond a certain point, the incremental learning starts going down. Even as an MBA student, you will not spend 2 years of your life playing games. There are more productive ways to use the time.
– Not ‘real’: At the end of the day, it’s still a game. The designer of the business simulation game software has taken liberties to filter out a lot of the uncertainty so that it can be modelled in algorithms.
We thought of getting the concept of business simulation games outside the confines of the top business schools and allowing everyone to access it. Not just rich kids with a lot of money (or poor kids with huge financial debts) who can afford expensive degrees.
Interestingly, apart from individual users, many management colleges across the world (including USA, UK, Singapore and India) are using our business games in their classrooms.
For starters we have created 2 strategy simulation games for you to use. They’ll get you introduced to the following areas.
Supply Chain Management Game: The super-sharp minds at MIT came up with a game called the Beer Game to get students introduced to the basic concept of supply chains. We’ve created our own, simplified version of the same. Click here to try our Free Online SCM Game.
General Business Management Game: Following in the tradition of two in-house tools that we developed earlier (MBA MAP and Career MAP), our business simulator is called BizMAP. This game puts you in the CEO’s chair and allows you to run a business independently. Click here to try the Free Online Business Strategy Game.
Each game has a clear logical end. You’ll learn about them when you start playing. A game is just a game if you play it and forget about it. The best part about business simulation games is that you get an indepth view at how you performed and why you won/lost. This is a powerful way of learning. So, don’t treat it like it’s just another game.
As depicted in the image below, at the end of the game, you’ll find comprehensive reports with charts and descriptions covering granular level insights into various business concepts. Nice, na?
Start off with the SCM Game first and once you’ve got the hang of it, move to the slightly more complex BizMAP.
It’s high time you kicked out the supremely addictive (and mindless) Facebook games and moved to ‘serious games’ (that’s another industry term for learning oriented simulation games) that can help you learn new, practical skills and be a better professional.
There’s no software to download. Play them online for free. Try them out and let us know how you performed.
Were you able to achieve ‘equilibrium’ in the Supply Chain Game? How many attempts did it take? What about your performance in BizMAP (Business Strategy Game)? Were you able to live up to the expectations of the venture capital team that offered you the opportunity? Or did the company nosedive into bankruptcy under your esteemed leadership?
Read how MBA students are using our business simulation game in the classroom at FSU (USA) to learn business management concepts.
If you are a professor or trainer planning to use simulation games in your class, we can create a customized user-interface for your organisation. Send us an email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com