Business Simulation Review
During the business simulation small teams of learners work independently on running their business. At the end of the business simulation they need to share, embed and ensure learning. To do this the teams come together for explore, compare and review their actions.
Here I explore reviewing a business simulation - the purpose, problems, team presentations, the tutor's role, choosing a winner and senior management reviewers.
The review provides an opportunity to share what they did and learnt. It's purpose is not to criticise teams or generally (as described later) to choose a winner. However, although the purpose is not to criticise, learners should be encouraged to critically review what they have done and what they would do better.
Typical problems are competition and the perception of loosing, tiredness (both the learners and the trainer) and inadequate preparation.
Despite simulation being a learning activity, participants are likely to be very competitive. (I remember an occasion where I was familiarising senior managers with a business simulation that they were going to use at an assessment centre. Despite the fact that I had clearly explained the purpose - to become familiar with the business not to compete, this was immediately ignored and the two teams began to compete aggressively and ignored my repeated explanation of the purpose.) Because of this - the focus on competition, the learners may not document their learning (despite you reminding them to do so). This means that it is vital that you document learning and highlights.
The presentation will take place after a long period of intensive work. This means that both the learners and the tutor can be tired.
Besides documenting learning it is important to document progress so differing approaches can be compared and contrasted. This means that besides recording learning, both the tutor and the learners should keep notes about their actions, progress and the reasons to be used as a basis for the review. Unfortunately, the learners tend to focus during the simulation on running their business and it is difficult to get them to record progress. For Tutor Mediated simulations, it is useful if the tutor files the tutor's audit, decision forms and a copy of the business research in a ring binder and make notes on these sheets as the business simulation progresses. For Direct Use simulations where teams make use of the business simulation themselves and where it is not usual for there to be special tutoring reports, the tutor will need to make notes as the simulation progresses.
I have a standard Board Presentation brief that asks the learners to make a short (5 to 10 minute) presentation covering objectives, strategies, process, the future and learning. I choose the team order for presentations randomly by writing team names on small pieces of paper that I fold and get teams to choose from a small container (eg. glass). If you would like a copy of this Board Presentation Briefing please email us for a copy.
I make a few comments at the end of each presentation but limit these to discussing major omissions. (However, the other teams are free to be more critical, although they rarely are very critical.)
The Tutor's role is not to tell the teams where they went wrong. Rather it is to ensure that all the learning is shared and there is transfer back to the work place.
If teams have made presentations, it is likely that these are likely to emphasise success at the expense of discussing weaknesses and mistakes. But, commonly, the other teams will challenge them. But, if they make outrageous claims then I suggest that you challenge them.
Choosing a Winner
Although, usually, the simulation's purpose is learning rather than winning, it is usual for teams to become competitive (sometimes very competitive) and ask you to choose a winner.
I prefer not to choose a winner. But if it is absolutely necessary to choose a winner, I prefer to base this on a multi-faceted analysis of where the teams are and where they are going. The reason for this forward looking stance is that as in the real world, like the British Empire, past triumphs are not indicators of current and future success. Besides looking forward, I like analysing and forecasting performance in terms of profitability, solvency, growth and wealth creation. I score each of these metrics and commonly no one team will be better than all the others and each team will be strongest in one or another of the metrics.
For conference or promotional contests I have designed my Challenge Series and Strategy simulations so you can use Total Equity as the measure of success (provided the company is liquid). In effect, this is a measure of cumulative wealth creation.
I have a short White Paper discussing choosing a winner with briefs for the learners. if you would like a copy of this Board Presentation Briefing please email us for a copy.
Senior Management Reviewers
If you are feeling very cruel and can get senior managers to sit in the review and get the teams to present to these. But if you do this the senior managers need a good understanding of the simulation and be well briefed on the actual run. Further, although their authority means that they can be more critical this must be tempered with understanding and praise. This is especially important, as presenting in front of senior management is very pressured. I use the Tutor's Review to help me brief the senior managers.
Most recent update: 08/01/15
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