August 2022 – Hard, Valuable, Fun (HVF) Business Simulations

I recently listened to a How I Built This podcast featuring Max Levchin (founder of Paypal and Affirm). In the podcast Max discusses the acronym HVF. An interview with Eric Scott, one of Levchin’s colleagues, provides us with the following background/description of HVF:

Max was working on an incredibly technically hard problem (at PayPal) and Peter Thiel — the CEO — came up to him and basically said ‘Why are you working on this problem? There are much more valuable things that you could be doing.’ Max, as a 23-year-old CTO, said, ‘What are you talking about? This is an incredibly hard problem, so it’s obviously valuable.’ Peter explained to him why the things that are technically hard, while fun, are not necessarily the most valuable things to work on at any given time. So, HVF has essentially become the three criteria for which we evaluate whether or not we’re going to work on a product or invest in a project.

What a powerful, yet simple framework for making decisions on what to work on.

I believe the same framework can serve as an explanation for the success of properly designed business simulation-based courses. While many workshops can achieve the “fun” of HVF, they may not provide the Hard and Valuable dimensions.

The business challenge that we put participants through is Hard, because business is hard (and complex). Business is much like a multi-dimensional “optimization” problem. Given a market, with a set of finicky consumers, management teams must navigate and drive discussions across many dimensions: company operations, management team, competitors, economic cycles, and marketplace. They need to strategize and focus the business in order to deliver optimum results (that they themselves need to define). Our participants can be quite experienced and they require a difficult “learning field” in order to move the needle on their know-how.

PriSim exercises are Valuable. Each workshop focuses on building business skills that are needed to be successful. Business acumen, financial acumen, strategic thinking, leadership, communication skills. The topics we include in our exercises are chosen carefully. Not fluffy, or overly academic. Our classes teach practical, real-world skills that can be immediately and directly applied on the job.

And finally Fun. No doubt… we’ve got that covered!