The use of sophisticated simulations in business is not new. Large corporations occasionally commission bespoke simulations to model specific markets, timeframes, products or services. Some business schools design or commission simulations which focus on specific aspects of business, such as marketing, finance, project management or other disciplines. But what about the practical day-to-day challenges of running a real business? And specifically, what about interactions between these different disciplines and specialisms?
"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."
Organisations need to develop decision-making skills at three levels:
- Board – addressing priorities, objectives and strategy
- Operational – balancing the needs of finance, marketing and other disciplines
- Individual – how each person behaves, particularly under pressure.
Is there a better way to develop leadership skills, build effective teams and deal with the often-conflicting needs of shareholders, customers, employees and suppliers? Yes! It requires decision-makers to develop a far greater understanding of the interdependence of the different facets of a business and see the bigger picture. That way, they are better placed to avoid repeating the mistakes of others.
In simulation-based events, teams compete against each other, taking control of an under-performing company in a rapidly changing market. Policy decisions are similar to those encountered in real life, including pricing, salaries, research & development, staffing levels, customer service, promotion, quality and training.
The natural desire to win provides a powerful motivation to contribute to the team effort, identifying and eliminating any “unknown unknowns” by sharing knowledge and experience. Teams that make the most mistakes may not win but are often the most enthusiastic advocates!
Pilots are not born with an ability to handle every conceivable emergency situation in a calm, methodical and professional manner. They learn, mostly in flight simulators. Business simulations provide exactly the same opportunity for those with responsibility, authority and accountability for policy decisions.
“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”
The world of aviation provides a dramatic illustration of the benefits of halving the number of avoidable mistakes. After achieving this twenty times over the last century, the chances of being “the wrong sort of statistic” as a passenger have improved from one in ten, to one in ten million. If the number of avoidable mistakes in business were halved just once, the impact on the people and enterprises involved, not to mention the economy, would be little short of spectacular.
'There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?'