Best Practices – Building and Using Business Simulations: Part 2

In the first post (Best Practices – Building and Using Business Simulations: Part 1) we promised adding more of the best practices PriSim has developed in more than 20 years of experience running business simulation exercises. Below is Part 2 of the Best Practices when Building and Using Business Simulations:

  1. Keep It Fun! – This may sound obvious and something one would expect to happen naturally, however, it’s a very important point. When there is competition, there is stress and personal vulnerability. If improperly managed, individuals can get too wrapped up in the competition and lose sight of the learning. Use funny headlines, gag prizes, and any other devices to ensure all participants are engaged in learning and not too invested in “winning.”

  2. Design in Constraints and Tradeoffs – Businesses are constrained (time, money, etc.) and decision-makers are required to make trade-off decisions. If a team decides to pursue x, they shouldn’t easily be able to pursue y as well. The dynamics and decisions of a business simulation must also be constrained, forcing trade-off decisions.

  3. Custom vs. Off-The-Shelf – We believe if you can accomplish 80% of the learning with an existing simulation – go for it! Customization can be expensive. Also, don’t always assume that the simulation software is what needs to be customized. There are simpler ways to customize an experience through role-play, disruptors, presentations, guest speakers, and pen & paper exercises.

  4. Get Started Quickly with Pre-work – It’s important to make the most of time spent with the instructor. Much like today’s emphasis on “flipping the classroom” in K-12 education, the same logic applies for business simulations. Have participants read the business simulation Case Study Guide before they arrive and perhaps watch a demonstration video as well. This way, you can immediately get into “running” the business.

  5. Strategic Choice – There should not be a “right” answer in the business simulation. Decision-making is about deciding between viable alternatives. Simulation teams need to be able to differentiate themselves strategically through aspects such as customer or product focus, scale, and service levels. Having strategic choice also creates post-competition reflection, as teams can compare and contrast how different strategic approaches resulted in different outcomes.