Benefits of Business Simulations for Higher Education
Business simulations: just another serious game?
Serious games are designed to train a set of skills, thereby going beyond the objective of entertaining. Playing has been emphasized as an enabler of learning and behavior change, and for that matter, one can find “serious games” in multiple industries: education, marketing, healthcare, etc.
A quick search on the internet leads us to a differentiation in the realm of serious gaming between, on the one side, process-oriented games – which tackle processes such as gaining awareness, making decisions, role-playing – and on the other side, outcome-focused games – which are meant to teach an outcome, such as a reaction, a perception, an essential skill like negotiation, for example.
In this context, business simulations are somewhere on that continuum between process-oriented and outcome-focused, as we tap into role-playing– participants are managing a fictional company – and we aim to help them grow business acumen and identify what to look at to roll out the strategy they designed for their company. Business simulations are therefore comprehensive serious games aiming to create a team business learning journey.
Now, what is a business simulation game?
A business simulation game is an immersive experience, in which participants learn the principles of operating a business through decision-making, in a competitive environment. Decisions include budget allocation to business units, market positioning, and the design and implementation of a corporate strategy.
Students are given the keys of a multiproduct company, for which they make decisions based on market trends, customer profiles and taking into consideration other teams’ decisions. Our simulations are usually run over two to 4 days, but they can be spread over weeks or months, or in just one day, depending on the course structure and the simulation complexity!
Business simulation games enable participants to learn in an engaging, challenging, dynamic, and risk-free environment, while applying concepts that they may have been taught in their course curriculum.
They are known to promote long-term learning, as experience remains by far the best teacher in developing judgment. Students learn by doing, and what they do, they understand.
Our simulations form the ideal environment in which the issues and dynamics of complex business situations can be explored. They capture the dynamic complexities that confront management teams when they craft new competitive strategies, design new organizations, form alliances and seize opportunities created by gaps or breakthrough in their industries.
What are the benefits of a business simulation?
They facilitate self-awareness and improve students’ learning curve
The complexity of running a company makes it necessary to cut it out in theoretical bits – e.g. accounting, HR, marketing, strategy, etc. – but theoretical education in this format creates a silo effect. Students are not able to understand intuitively how their cash-flow, which they have studied in Accounting, will impact their marketing positioning, which they have studied in another class, for example. For that matter, business simulations complement students’ education by providing an illustration to the concepts they learn.
Our personal experience as graduated business school students and the testimonials we have gathered from professors and other students concur: no matter the quality of the theory you teach, experiential learning in the form of a business simulation is by far the best way for students to understand how real-life businesses operate, beside past professional experience, and shows to be way more intuitive than working on a case study.
They teach you what running a business means, literally.
Our simulations approach all the aforementioned dimensions in an engaging, risk-free yet particularly challenging and interactive way. Soon enough, students realize where their weaknesses and strengths lie, from the perspective of understanding business. This generates an eye-opening learning opportunity for participants to learn exactly what they need, from their own experience of the game, their facilitators, and their peers.
They pave the way for better leadership among participants
Our simulations help sharpen participants’ focus on strategic goals and profitability drivers. Additionally, the experience will widen their business perspective and industry knowledge while enhancing their decision-making for better business outcomes. Developing a mature approach to decision-making while being able to adopt a helicopter-view of the business increases students’ employability. Besides, it instills among students a feeling of professionalism by giving them a lot of responsibility regarding what they do with their fictional company.
The cornerstone of our approach is to create a stimulating learning journey in which participants can discover and experience the core competencies of leadership, along four key learning dimensions:
1) learning key business concepts and management processes,
2) assessment of their performance thanks to real-time feedback,
3) practicing through simulation under a time constraint,
4) application, by connecting the learning journey with corporate reality and by motivating participants to apply what they learnt in their own lives.
They create an engaging, binding, human experience
Though the essence of our business simulations is to teach business dynamics, they are also used in capstone courses or at the start of a program, in either case to promote a binding experience among students.
Winning the game requires an efficient decision-making system, and therefore group thinking skills: teams need to come to an agreement regarding their corporate strategy, the development of their four product lines, all of this in a limited time and experiencing additional constraints imposed by the game and other teams.
The team set-up associated with a challenge-and-reward framework creates synergies among participants and amicable competitiveness across teams, yet it binds the whole class together around the objective of winning the game!
Participants also need to improve resiliency as the results of their simulated company will not always be brilliant, and even the winner will have gone through tough times. Being resilient is a key success factor of professional life.
Our business simulation games facilitate trust and improve relationships among students and between students and their educators.
They improve students’ satisfaction and performance
The combination of a challenging set-up and relevant content in a fun and risk-free environment participates in increasing not only students’ satisfaction and perception of their class, but also it contributes to improved performance, better stress management and more clarity when prioritizing and setting goals.
This helps you reinforce your institution’s unique value proposition, especially if you value the transfer of hands-on, learning by doing, practical and concrete skills, and if the perceived innovativeness of the tools you use is a key aspect of the institution’s offer.
What makes MEGA Learning’s business simulations particularly relevant?
We develop our tools with experts of the field
Our business simulations are all developed by bringing together our technical/pedagogical know-how, with experts and professors of the field – this way, we make sure participants learn the right thing. For example, the Customer Value Challenge, which showcases cars as the focus industry, was developed with a team from French automotive manufacturer Renault. Another example, the Human Capital Challenge, which focuses more on HR-related questions and their interaction with business strategy, was co-developed with HEC Paris and HR specialists.
We are your most supportive partner
We understand that each institution we work with has their own need, and while some prefer complete autonomy, others like a little support – and we gather the best of both worlds! Our tools are straightforward to implement into any of your programs, and we developed self-study material for you to get your head around before your first facilitation!
For those who want support, we help you identify implementation opportunities thanks to agenda examples, we train you directly or facilitate ourselves based on your needs, and walk you through examples of assessment systems that we are using with other clients.
We are your most flexible partner
Our flexibility is one of our biggest strengths: you are free to decide how many decision rounds students should play, whether to use our ready-to-use presentation material, what information is shown to students while playing or even which options to activate in the game scenario.
Our simulations can be run anywhere, anytime, with groups of any size. You are no longer dependent on COVID-related regulations, as the simulation is web-based and can be played online, face-to-face or in a blended format!
We have run the game with thousands of students across multiple campuses at the same time and the experience is just as engaging and beneficial for participants. If you don’t know where to start from, let us guide you through our communication tools and long experience facilitating virtually.
In a nutshell…
Here is the information you want to take away with you! Our business simulation games specs are as follow:
1) Concrete skills students will take away with them: decision-making, financial skills, better resistance to stress, group communication, leadership, conflict-resolution, negotiation skills, strategic thinking, goal setting, synthesis mindset
2) Who’s it for? Masters’ students, MBA students and corporate education participants
3) How many participants? We recommend a minimum of 9 participants, there is no upper limit
4) What are our main topics? Strategy, Marketing, Corporate Finance and Human Capital
5) Which languages are supported? English, French, Mandarin Chinese, but any additional language can be implemented in just a few days.
6) How long does a simulation last? Anywhere between 3 and 8 decision rounds, each decision round lasting 1:30-2 hours. You can spread the game over 1 day, up to a few weeks or months
7) How much time do we need to implement it? Depending on the level of support you need, it can be rolled out in just a week time.
Do you have questions? Or do you want to try it by yourself? Reach out to us!
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