“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of will knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
Our 2016 MikesBikes World Champions, Helen Wheels from Algonquin College secured the top position, becoming the “Best of the Best” and Bat Wheels from the University of Auckland who came in at a well-deserved second place. These top two teams certainly had the will to succeed and win the competition.
Helen Wheels and Bat Wheels started strong and performed consistently throughout the competition. They consistently adapted to their market, made growth-oriented decisions and remained true to their firm’s mission. Both firms developed and executed excellent business strategies which saw them rise to the top.
Our two winners had the following to say:
First Place: Helen Wheels from Algonquin College
“That was a very aggressive first round by everyone. Even though the ending SHVs may not reflect it, the first few rollovers were challenging. It was fun competing with everyone and putting concepts I learned from school into practice.”
Second Place: Bat Wheels from the University of Auckland
“I never knew running my own company could be so much fun. Smartsims has provided us with a great business simulation and I will miss being a part of this competition.”
–Mohammad Sami Siddiq
Congratulations to both teams and thank you to everyone who participated! It was another great year full of intense competition.
Here’s the Final Round’s Rollover Results:
University of Auckland
Mohammad Sami Siddiq
University of Auckland
Nicholas Goddard | Meng Zhang | Tingyu Fu | Yanxin Jiang | Philipp Noack
On the 6th of January, Robert Denson (President of Des Moines Area Community College) presented Mason G. Ohnemus (photo above) with a plaque commemorating his amazing achievement within our Hall of Fame.
Mason G. Ohnemus was able to apply theories he learnt in class to his simulated firm to achieve a Shareholder Value of $391.77. In doing so, he has earned himself a position within our 2016/2017 MikesBikes Introduction Hall of Fame! Smartsims would like to congratulate Mason for striving to be the best he possibly can.
In attendance on this proud day was his Instructor (Russel Holmes) and several other satisfied members of the community and staff.
We extend our appreciation and admiration of Russel Holmes who organized the plaque and the award ceremony for Mason. It is very clear that Russel is truly passionate about education and his students’ success.
The article below is written by Dan Bielinski, an instructor currently using MikesBikes Introduction within his course at Madison Area Technical College.
As a relatively new Business Management Instructor (in my third year) after a nearly 30 year career in industry and consulting, I have found MikesBikes Introduction an extremely helpful tool for teaching real-world business concepts. In the spirit of sharing among educators to benefit students, I am privileged to discuss some of the approaches that have worked for me.
We utilize the MikesBikes Introduction (Single-Player) business simulation in our “introduction to business” class. Students work in teams and compete against the computer. There are two practices I have found very effective:
I cover course material on Strategy, Marketing (the 4 P’s), Operations and Finance, primarily through case studies and other active learning techniques. I then use MikesBikes and help students “connect the dots” and apply these concepts in the simulation.
Both direct student feedback, and the kinds of questions they start to ask, tell me the simulation is taking student understanding to a deeper level. Much like moving toward case studies and away from lectures deepened learning, the simulation took learning provided by the case studies to a deeper level.
I have students work in teams of three. Each Team designates a VP-Sales & Marketing, a VP- Operations, and a VP-Finance. Each of their “bonuses” is based 50% on maximizing a specific departmental metric, and 50% on Shareholder Value growth. All three have to agree on all decisions.
The bonuses take the form of hefty extra credit points. For example, the VP-Sales with the best sales growth rate wins extra credit points; similar for the other positions. However, EACH member of the Team with the highest Shareholder Value wins extra credit points.
This simulates the dynamic that happens in actual businesses between Departmental Managers. It gets pretty real— in one case, a student was still yelling at a teammate 20 minutes after the simulation ended—“You hosed us; all you cared about was your Department.”
Last semester, we started using the Multi-Player version in our Capstone Leadership course. Students still work in Teams, but now compete directly against each other to maximize shareholder value. The experience exceeded my high expectations. Key learnings we were able to drive home included:
The business mindset of always continually looking for an advantage or edge. Since all Teams start out identically, if they all follow similar strategies, no one will stand out. However, since the reports allow you to figure out- and copy, others’ strategies, you must continually look for a new angle.
We connect that to running your Department—for example, if you run a Customer Service Team, how can you give your Sales force “something to sell” that your counterparts are not doing. And since your counterparts can probably copy you if it works, are you thinking about the next improvement? Etc.
Since all Teams start out with identical positions and decisions to make, and the end results vary wildly, the core source of differences in results is the members of each Team. This leads to a discussion of team makeup— complementary skill sets, depth of understanding of the “business”, ability to work together, etc. It is the most powerful way I have seen to teach the importance of teamwork.
This easily transitions into how you build your department’s team— hiring into your weaknesses, knowing that both deep skill sets and ability to be a team player are vital, etc.
The simulation allows us to help students develop a broader business perspective, and to drive home the importance of such a perspective. For example, most companies do not want a marketing expert running Marketing; they want a business person who has deep knowledge of marketing. Same for Operations, Finance, and so on. Being able to “see the big picture” and have “your world” be bigger than just your department is vital.
I looked at other simulation packages, and concluded that MikesBikes had an optimal level of complexity. It is not simplistic-all the lessons above can be taught, yet it is not so complex that it takes students a long time to learn. I was able to do a self-paced tutorial of a five year simulation using a screencast (35 minutes total run time), that enabled students to learn the basics on their own outside of class (using the online version of MikesBikes).
The service and support from SmartSims has been absolutely exceptional- and I say this as a former Customer Service VP. I was comfortable recommending to our Dean that we expand our relationship to the Multi-Player only because of the 18 prior months of phenomenal support.
The MikesBikes World Champs (MWC) is an opportunity for the best performing MikesBikes teams from around the world to compete for the title of 2017 MikesBikes World Champion. Entrance is FREE for all participants.
Smartsims will invite the top teams from courses around the world who have used either our MikesBikes Intro or MikesBikes Advanced business simulations. Please note the competition will be conducted using the MikesBikes Advanced simulation (browser version only). Any number of members from the team can compete, but there can only be one competing team per invitation.
Your response to our invitation email must be received prior to 8:00pm on 27 November 2017 (USA Eastern Standard Time).
What are the prizes?
At the end of the Final Round, the top two firms will be crowned global champions and feature on our website. Both first and second place will receive a certificate, and a professionally written article on their achievement which we will promote. These articles are often also published in University websites and newsletters. Winners will also share the article through their social media platforms.
The competition will run in two rounds; a Qualification Round and a Final Round.
The Qualification Round features 4 rollovers (decision deadlines). After the fourth rollover of the Qualifying Round, the top 10 companies ranked by shareholder value across all qualifying worlds will move to the Final Round where competitors will start a new simulation and complete 6 rollovers.
Note: After each rollover you can identify where your company is ranked by referring to the Scoreboard that will feature on this page.
Competition Decision Deadlines
You can convert the times below to your local timezone here.
Qualifying Round 1: Wednesday 29 November 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Qualifying Round 2: Thursday 30 November 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Qualifying Round 3: Sunday 03 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Qualifying Round 4: Monday 04 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 1: Thursday 07 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 2: Sunday 10 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 3: Tuesday 12 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 4: Thursday 14 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 5: Sunday 17 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Final Round 6: Tuesday 19 December 8pm (USA Eastern Standard Time)
Note: The last rollover for both the Qualifying and Final Rounds will be a double-rollover.
Additional info for competitors
Limitation on product development: In MWC we have limited the total number of design & development projects so as to encourage more strategic decision making in a limited-resources type environment.
Offline Mode: The Offline Mode test feature will be disabled for the entire duration of the competition.
Takeovers: The Takeovers feature will be disabled for the entire duration of the competition.
What if I have only used MikesBikes Introduction?
Don’t be intimidated, we have had previous winners of the competition who had only used MikesBikes Intro in their course. We will provide you with access to MikesBikes Advanced prior to the competition so you can practice.
Over this year, we have made several tweaks and improvements to our simulations:
1. Product Summary / Contribution
The Product Summary – Sales, Margin, Production report has been updated in order for students to identify the contribution of each product:
2. Fines System
Instructors wanting to penalize firms can do so via the Firms menu of their Administrator features:
For students, this amount shows up after the rollover has been processed in the Income Statement:
The fine directly impacts the firm’s profit, which feeds into Shareholder Value.
3. Minimum Share Issue Price is now $5 per Share
Struggling firms need access to equity.
Even bankrupt firms can issue 50% more shares at $5 / share to recapitalize.
E.g. A firm with share price of $0.76 and 1 million shares issued could issue 500,000 shares at $5 / share = $2.5m (making it slightly easier for them to recover).
4. Up to 20% Share Repurchase
In MikesBikes Introduction
The simulation now allows for students to repurchase shares up to 20% beyond original 1 million share allocation.
Eg. If you have 2 million shares issued, you could repurchase 20%, or 400,000 shares. When below 1 million, the limit remains at 10%. Eg. If you have 900,000 shares issued, you could repurchase 90,000 shares.
In MikesBikes Advanced
The simulation now allows for students to repurchase shares up to 20% beyond original 2 million share allocation.
Eg. If you have 3 million shares issued, you could repurchase 20%, or 600,000 shares. Below 2 million the limit remains at 10%. Eg. If you have 1.8 million shares issued, you could repurchase 180,000 shares.
5. Limit to Projects/ Products
In MikesBikes Introduction
Firms can sell multiple products in a single market segment. This can work if student plans well. But it is often unintended and market share drops due to product cannibalization.
Instructors can now limit students to having at most one product in each segment. At the beginning of your course please let your account manager know if you would like your course set up in this manner.
In MikesBikes Advanced
We can optionally LIMIT:
Max Projects per Period
Max Products per Segment
6. Specific MikesBikes Introduction Scenario Improvements include:
Sports segment around 40% larger, meaning firms have more room to expand as well a higher chance of generating larger revenue.
Branding is cheaper to attain once Distribution and Branding decisions are available.
Efficiency is cheaper to attain once Capacity decisions are available.
Road segment more sensitive to Quality and Product Specs.
Bankrupt Firm Share Price improves faster.
7. MikesBikes Advanced will contain IFRS Financial Statements:
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are common outside North America, therefore to ensure relevancy to all schools these have now been included. The reports have different names and layouts for Financial Statements.
The different names for financial statements can be:
A recent study by the World Economic Forum predicts that approximately 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as technology replaces the need for human workers. Millions of workers today that don’t account for the possible future where their current job is automated (and prepare accordingly) are likely to find their jobs redundant.
What does the future require of us?
It is not all doom and gloom. Researchers like David Deming (Associate Professor of Education and Economies at Harvard University) argue that soft skills such as sharing and negotiating will be crucial alongside a strong technical understanding of theories and practice that are traditionally taught in current courses. As a part of his research, Deming has mapped the changing needs of employers and in doing so identified the key skills that will be required to thrive in the job market in the future.
Source: David Deming, Harvard University
What do we take away from this?
Specific roles which relied heavily on one type of skill over another (hard vs soft) are not the way of the future. In recent years, jobs which only required mathematical skills have been automated whereas jobs which rely solely on social skills tend to be poorly paid. To ensure students take solid and future-proof skills from their time at an education institution they need to be taught both hard and soft skills.
Business simulations provide students with the opportunity to engage and expand their skill set. Not just the hard or the soft but encourage students to combine the two. Recent research has shown that business simulations are effective at developing critical thinking and analytical skills as well as improving a students ability to negotiate, communicate and work within a team. Over the past 20 years various researchers have conducted research into the benefits of business simulations.
There are many forms of this; marketing simulations, business simulations, management accounting simulations, and advertising simulations. If you’d like to learn more about future proofing your student’s skills through business simulations then click here.
The article below is written by Russell E. Holmes, a business and law instructor currently using MikesBikes Introduction within his course at Des Moines Area Community College.
It All Began…
A few years back my business department decided to incorporate a business simulation into our Introduction to Business course. The college felt our introductory business course would become more acceptable as a transfer course to a larger number of universities if we did this.
I was adamantly opposed to requiring a simulation in the course. I had taught the course for many years, was comfortable with the variety of assignments and activities I had developed over the years and had no interest in having to deal with what I perceived to be an activity that would take a lot of time and, in my opinion, be of minimal value.
What really upset me was when I was told we would be required to take students through chapters that dealt with accounting, financial management, securities and marketing at the beginning of the course so they would be able to understand the simulation better. I was beyond angry as I had always done those chapters at the end of the course. More than that, I felt the tail was wagging the dog – in other words, I felt the simulation was becoming the centerpiece of the course as opposed to being a part of it.
Taking A Stand
In protest to this major change to the course, I choose not to teach it. I had enough other courses I could teach that I did not need to do the Introduction to Business course. I felt bad about this as I had always enjoyed the course but, well, I had no interest in dealing with the business simulation and all the problems I was sure it would bring about. I was fairly confident that in a couple of years MikesBikes Introduction would become a thing of the past and the people who had advocated for it would see the error of their ways.
About two years after the college began requiring the business simulation in all the Introduction to Business courses, I was forced to teach the course again since I needed a full load. I was upset, to put it mildly, that I would have to deal with the simulation. I was convinced it was a waste of time and greatly over-rated. I had ignored it for two years and had had no interest in learning what it was all about.
Still, I had no choice. I figured if the students were going to have to deal with it, then I would figure out a way to make it somewhat palatable. There had to be some redeeming value to it even if I had no idea what it might be. I knew I would need to be able to explain it and have some working knowledge of it for obvious reasons.
Knowing I had no choice I was forced to dive in and begin to learn what this MikesBikes simulation was all about whether I liked it or not (and I definitely did not). Over a long break I attempted to learn how to do the simulation. I would go in spurts. After struggling with the most basic of concepts in Years 1 and 2 (how in the world am I supposed to determine a selling price or how many units to produce?!) I fought and cursed the simulation every step of the way. I was determined to prove it was a waste of time and could not in any way be remotely realistic.
The Turning Point
However, slowly – ever so slowly – I began to see a glimmer of light here and another glimmer there. No matter how hard I tried to find fault with every aspect of the simulation, I began to see something that was slightly interesting and perhaps even somewhat relevant to this thing we call “business.” I began to see the marketing screen and the production screen actually correlated with each other (can you say “supply and demand”?).
I began to realize those Key Reports – something I had tried to ignore – actually had some really valuable information in them and were appropriately named (imagine that?). I discovered that if I knew the size of my market it was actually helpful in determining how many bicycles my factory should be producing in the upcoming year. Slowly, ever so slowly, I stopped cursing the simulation and began to see how it might have some value.
As the simulation progressed into Year 2 and Year 3 and Year 4 an amazing thing happened – what I had learned in earlier years could be used to build upon in the following year. Before long I was seeing a rather interesting relationship before my eyes involving many pieces to a large puzzle – financing, production, advertising, branding, pricing, dividends and on and on. So many pieces but they all fit together so nicely when you – the owner of your firm – figured out how to put those pieces in place.
From Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan
The simulation was no longer an ugly, disjointed, confusing maze of frustration. Rather it had turned into a beautiful kaleidoscope of moving parts and beautiful colors. There was no one right way; there were actually many right ways to obtain a high shareholder value. I was, in a word, astounded at not only the beauty of the simulation but the intricacy of it. Still, it was simple enough for a student in an Introduction to Business class to understand if he or she was willing to give it some time and thought.
Isn’t that what a college course is all about – taking the time to give the subject matter some time and thought so the concepts can be digested? Isn’t actually being actively engaged in an ongoing project – something that requires a person to work on week after week – better than sitting passively reading or listening or even watching a video about some topic?
I, the old curmudgeon, had learned something even though I had tried so hard to keep my mind closed. The simulation brought some real life into the course and made it better (shocking but true). MikesBikes Introduction brought to life a variety of concepts that are discussed in the text and allowed students to work together making decisions for the upcoming year.
Both my online as well as my face-to-face classroom students do the simulation and I could not be more pleased. Sure, some students get so frustrated they want to quit – but I tell them the key is to push forward, stay with it, preserve and never give up. When they see the light it is an amazing sight for me and a feeling of true success for them.
Becoming a Strong Advocate
Today, I would not consider teaching Introduction to Business without the business simulation (MikesBikes Introduction). I have come full circle from vocal nonbeliever to strong advocate. One of my students this past semester scored #2 in the MikesBikes Introduction Hall of Fame.
If he had only declared a dividend he would have easily been #1! To this day I will never understand why he never declared a dividend for his shareholders!! Oh, what could have been!
More importantly is not what could have been but what is. And what MikesBikes Introduction is, is invaluable to my course.
Russell E. Holmes teaches Business Law and Introduction to Business. He obtained his law degree from Drake Law School in 1989. He has a Master’s degree from Iowa State; a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and an Associate of Arts degree from North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City.
After graduating from University, he worked with the Federal Land Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota as a loan officer. In 1977 he started teaching full time for the American Institute of Business in Des Moines and also worked for a consulting firm in Des Moines.
Russell first began at Des Moines Area Community College(DMACC) in 1980 and was with the department until 1986. He left DMACC to attend law school. From 1989 until 2004 he was in private practice in Polk and Story counties. For eight years he was the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Story County. He returned to DMACC in 2004 and has been teaching there ever since.
If you were to walk into a computer lab with students playing MikesBikes, one of the questions or topics of interest that will be discussed is ‘Dividends’. Specifically, when is the best time to pay it and is it worth it?
This article, besides showing off the beautiful New Zealand landscape, will allow you to come to your own conclusion by bringing up factors you should be considering.
Within MikesBikes-Introduction, you need to wait a few rounds before you are even presented with the financial decisions but with MikesBikes-Advanced it is available straight away.
To answer this question quickly, there’s not really a ‘best’ time to offer dividends, but often a firm will establish a habit of paying out a certain proportion of the previous period’s earnings as a dividend, while retaining the remainder to invest in increasing the firm’s future earnings. The proportion of earnings retained for investment will depend on the firm’s growth prospects. A mature firm in a mature industry will often return a very high proportion of its earnings as a dividend because there are few growth opportunities. While these are vast generalizations, you need to figure out if distributing dividends is right for your firm.
The main purpose of issuing dividends within MikesBikes is increasing your firm’s Shareholder Value (in the real world you are providing a return on your Shareholder’s investment in your firm). Before you begin thinking about how much dividends to issue, you NEED to ask yourself the following questions:
Are you Financially Strong?
Is there something else you can do with the profits?
In answering the question “Are you financially strong” review your Cashflow and Income Statements. Look to see how much cash you have at the end of your previous rollover; how much cash do you currently have? Do you have enough for the amount of dividends you are thinking of issuing? How stable is your Income? Might you need that cash for future expenses?
So you have decided that you have some spare cash. You can do quite a lot with that which might yield a higher return on your firm’s Shareholder Value than issuing dividends. While this article won’t go into complete analysis on how to evaluate these different options, we are simply bringing up alternative options for this cash:
Investing further in your firm by expanding into new markets
Purchasing another company (MikesBikes-Advanced only)
Pay off your firm’s debt to lower the interest payments (Note: it is expected that your firm has at least some debt)
Ramping up your marketing decisions to take a larger market share
While evaluating these options be sure to think about how Shareholder Value is calculated within MikesBikes. Typically, Shareholder Value is a measure of the current Share Price (which is based upon your firm’s Profitability, Earnings per Share, and the Debt to Equity ratio) plus the value of all past dividends paid, including interest.
If none of these options make sense, then you might decide to return some of these profits to shareholders through a dividends payment.
Traditional methods of teaching via pure theory have dominated the educational landscape for generations, but technological advancements have disrupted not just how we do things, but also how we process information and learn. That is, there are now significant drawbacks of traditional teaching methods negatively affecting students’ learning.
Identifiable limitations of traditional/theory based education include:
1. Lack of theory connecting to real world application;
2. Dry nature of theory disengaging the fast-paced learner of today;
3. Lessons being viewed as an object to be passed on;
4. Little opportunity to experiment with theory;
5. Limited ability to reflect, observe and act.
Business scholars have long contended that the acquisition of theory by students is not a sufficient learning outcome. Rather, it is the application of this theory through direct experience that leads to the development of crucial management competencies such as interpersonal skills; critical thinking, workplace readiness and professional confidence. Methods in which direct experience is gained has evolved with the rise of technology and web 2.0. Today we use technology and the internet to entertain ourselves, as well as improving productivity. It is posited that as the current generation joins the workforce, the demand for e-learning will continue to increase as managers are increasingly referring to technology for solutions.
It can be argued that today’s business is very complex, requiring sophisticated skills; and that experience based learning is very productive in teaching business students. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) founded in 1916, has long identified the value of experiential learning.
Why is experiential learning considered a huge leap forward in engaging the students of today? Experiential learning is described as an “outward-facing curricula and experiential education can create the critical intersection between classroom and business learning that keeps faculty and students connected to rapidly changing business models” . More than just informing students, their ability to critically and actively engage in research must be triggered through experience. This will lead to students using personal skills and tacit skills for their own knowledge creation.
While theory is necessary to create a base of knowledge, practical application is required to test a student’s understanding and experience these concepts at a deeper level while facilitating learning outcomes which they can take into the workplace.
Importantly, the Control-Value theory suggests that achievement emotions affect cognitive abilities, learning strategies, motivation, and self-regulation. Positive emotions allow students to enjoy themselves while learning, and peak their interest in developing professionally. Achieving positive emotions associated to learning can be difficult in traditional teaching methods. In stark contrast to positive emotions, the negative counterpart hinder the learning experience. Emotional responses like anxiety, frustration, shame or anger stunt desires to learn. However, it can also be argued that experiencing negative emotions can actually motivate students to perform better. Self-policing a controlled response to negative outcomes and emotions, students can accept that failure while difficult, is an opportunity to update tactics and strategies, to ultimately achieve success.
Experiential learning tools like business simulations give students the opportunity to experience the relevance of their learnt subject matter first-hand. Giving students more control and responsibility for their own learning can enhance their ability to learn from past experience. This is where simulation based learning become essential. Experiential Learning focuses on the learning process for the individual, through observation and interaction with the subject they are learning about rather than the traditional process of learning from a textbook. This also somewhat releases individuals from the burden of winning at the end of the game, to instead experience adaptive decision making as is often required in real-life situations. Simulations have flexible learning environments – different things can be learnt from the same game, and different participants can learn different things.
A good business simulation will allow students to:
1. Apply theory in a real-world setting. Allowing them to bridge the gap between learning and decision-making.
2. Engage in a challenging environment. To survive and succeed, they need to adapt and improve to changing conditions relating to their products, the competition, and the market as a whole.
3. Retain knowledge and develop skills. Absorb the lessons learnt to identify the actual consequences of decisions in the real world.
Business simulations bring practical reality and excitement to the classroom. Students obtain a vicarious exposure to the problems faced by real management teams. They gain immediate, concrete experiences, providing a base for their own observations and reflections in an environment that fosters positive attitudes toward learning.
– By Danny Master, Ian McPherson and Brook McFarlane
Ettinger, A., Holton, V., & Blass, E. (2006). E-learner experiences: what is the future for e-learning? Industrial and Commercial Training, 38(4), 208 – 212.
Finch, D., Peacock, M., Lazdowski, D., & Hwang, M., (2014). Managing emotions: A case study exploring the relationship between experiential learning, emotions, and student performance. The International Journal of Management Education, 13, 23 – 36.