We're often asked how to integrate MikesBikes-Advanced into a strategy course by instructors with little knowledge of Simulation based learning (or even video games for that matter).
Can Business Simulations be used by any instructor, regardless of their technological prowess? The answer is absolutely!
Dr. Jude Rathburn was one of these instructors, and she has written a great article on her experience with incorporating our MikesBikes-Advanced Strategic Management Simulation into her course. She details the challenges faced, her plans to overcome them, and also a sound Lesson Plan to assist in ensuring the integration of a Business Simulation to her course is as smooth as possible.
Jude evaluates MikesBikes integration on nine elements - pacing, instructions, controls, knowledge, achievements, story, endgame, assessments and timing.
The Mike’s Bikes strategic management simulation is divided into decision periods (i.e. rollovers) that represent the passage of one year in the business cycle. Within each decision period, students will conduct research, analyze data, and make business decisions as they compete with other bicycle manufacturers. It will take players approximately three hours to run through a practice cycle of the game and get familiar with the user interface and reports that are generated within each decision period. Once the practice phase has been completed, students will work in teams of 3-4 members and compete against other student teams. We will run two team practice cycles to allow teams to get comfortable with making decisions together and analyzing their performance results. We will run the actual simulation over an eight week time frame, moving through one decision period each week, eventually compiling eight years’ worth of shareholder value and other financial results.
It will take players approximately three hours to run through a practice cycle of the game and get familiar with the user interface and reports that are generated within each decision period. Once the practice phase has been completed, students will work in teams of 3-4 members and compete against other student teams. The simulation’s support website includes a Quick Start Guide and Players Manual, as well as a slideshow that reviews the user interface. There are also HELP icons on each decision screen that provide explanations of terminology and relationships across concepts. The simulation interface also provides reminders of constraints - for example, before a team can introduce a new line of bicycles, they must first invest in research and development and then make decisions about the timing of the product launch, pricing, marketing budget, distribution channels, etc.
Players have control over how much money they allocate to various functional areas of the business, such as product marketing (i.e., marketing mix for each product - design, price and promotion), firm marketing (i.e., branding budget and distribution strategy), operations management (i.e., production capacity, quality standards, production quantity), product design and development (i.e., developing and modifying products to meet customer needs), and finance (i.e., financial strategy, debt or equity, dividends, takeover strategies).
There are a number of constraints built into the simulation that limit the choices available to players in terms of market segments (e.g., adventurer, commuter, kids, leisure, racer), promotion strategies (e.g., product advertising, product public relations, brand advertising), media choices (e.g., television, internet, magazines) and distribution channels (e.g., bike shops, sports stores and department stores)
All teams begin the simulation with the same level of capacity, financial resources, market share, operating expenses, number of employees and shareholder value. After the first decision period, resource and performance levels are adjusted based on the decisions made by all teams that are competing in the simulation.
Before they begin the simulation, all teams will need to develop a strategic plan that includes a detailed mission statement, description of business objectives, analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and description of strategies that the company can use to achieve its objectives. Teams must use their strategic plan to guide decision making as they move through the eight decision cycles. They will learn how to make sure that their investment and resource allocation decisions fit with the strategic plan. At the end of each decision cycle, teams will also have to analyze and make sense of performance results and then use that analysis to inform future decisions. At the end of the simulation, teams will conduct a detailed performance review and make recommendations on how they could improve their overall performance if they were to play the game again.
While the ultimate goal of the simulation is to generate the highest level of shareholder value by the end of the eight business cycles, each team will also monitor annual increases or decreases in retail sales, revenue, efficiency and net income (i.e., profitability). In addition, market comparison data will be provided that shows market and distribution channel share, operating results, and financial performance across all teams/companies. All teams will have access to their own performance data, as well as all data that compares results across the industry. The comparison data shows how each team/company ranks on each of the aforementioned performance measures. We will track the rankings throughout the eight week time period and discuss how various strategic decisions impacted the rankings.
Student teams play the game from the perspective of the top management team of a bicycle manufacturing company. The top management team’s job is to make decisions about pricing, marketing, operations, product development and finance, with the ultimate objective of maximizing shareholder value. Teams will also compete against each other for market share, which will ultimately affect their ability to create the most value for shareholders.
The primary goal or endgame is to enrich shareholders/owners by providing a return on their investment in the bicycle manufacturing company. Just as in “real life” this return is measured as Shareholder Value and will be compared to the amount of value generated by other competitors. The student team that creates the most shareholder value will be declared the winner of the game. All student teams that are able to create positive shareholder value will receive 5 bonus points. Even students who destroy shareholder value will learn how their decisions and those of other teams, impacted competitive positioning, financial performance and the creation of value for owners.
This simulation builds in assessment in a variety of ways. Just as in real life, performance can be measured by how much shareholder value is created by each management team during each of the eight decision periods and over the entire course of the game. Students will also be asked to evaluate how the decisions they make throughout the game fit with their strategic plan. Finally, regardless of whether performance improves or declines from one decision period to another, teams will be required to submit an executive analysis of the decisions they made in the period and how they impacted performance and competitive positioning.
Student teams will be allowed to play the simulation at their own pace, however they must complete one decision cycle each week for eight weeks. Teams that make their decisions early in the week will have more time to evaluate performance results and determine future strategic decisions. Since we will only spend eight of the 15 weeks in the semester playing the game, we will be able to discuss and evaluate their experience with the simulation during the remaining weeks of the course.
As I mentioned earlier, I did not particularly enjoy playing this game, primarily because I couldn't figure out how to beat the computer that was competing against me. Fortunately, I think asking my students to work in teams and use the multi-player version of the game, will add a social element and decrease the pressure for any one individual to win the game. Using teams will also give learners the opportunity to discuss strategies and evaluate performance outcomes from different perspectives. The competition that is built into the simulation will hopefully keep the teams motivated to stay engaged and learn as much as they can about strategic management processes.
Link to the full article HERE
Our friendly sales team can provide you with all the information you will need to get started with running a Simulation based Business Course.
The Smartsims Team will handle everything, from providing resources and training to Instructors using our Simulations, to emailing students with full instructions on getting started with the Simulation.
Full 24/7 support is offered to our Instructors and Students to ensure your Business Simulation runs as smoothly as possible.
Simply click here and fill out the form to request a free, no obligation demonstration.