Business Simulation: Temporal-Topical Progressions

This is the meta-compositional design of how the simulation evolves (the learning journey) to ensure learning effectiveness and efficiency.

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Effect is ensured by progressively focusing on different learning needs as the simulation evolves. Efficiency is illustrated by the way simulation duration can be reduced significantly - for my Distrain simulation duration was reduced by a third (Hall, 2015) and for my PriceWize simulation by nearly 90%. The chart below displays the six key progressions with link to details.

The ways that your simulation can progress over time.

Economic Progression Viewpoint Progression Task Progression Issues Progression Business Progression Ad Hoc Progression

Economic Progression

Economic Progression that defines how the economic situation changes independently of the decisions made. For example, with DISTRAIN; the market sectors (Counter, Industrial and Commercial) each had an underlying growth rate and the Commercial sector had a significant seasonal pattern.

How market sizes progress over the the simulation.

Market growth coupled with Commercial's seasonal pattern challenged participants ability to forecast demand and manage inventories, staffing levels and cash flow.

Viewpoint Progression

Viewpoint Progression involves introducing reports and prompts as the simulation progresses to stimulate thought and discussion about different aspects of business. Below is a chart showing the viewpoint progression for my Product Launch simulation.

Initially only basic results are shown. In the second period a Cognitive Prompt is provided to think about the buying situation and how this impacts period-on-period sales demand. In the third period, a report shows trends to stimulate discussion about how the business is progressing towards it's ultimate goal. In the fifth period, a report is provided exploring marketing to get participants to discuss and revisit whether they are stimulating and penetrating the market. In the sixth period a report showing profitability measures and a graph of sales is provided. The profitability report is provided to stimulate discussion about how this has evolved and the graph to highlight whether or not sales growth has been steady.

Task Progression

Task Progression defines how the business decisions evolve as the simulation progresses. This is illustrated for my Strategic Exploration of Entrepreneurial Directions (SEED) planning simulation below.

The pilot of the simulation involved all decisions to be made from the first period (January) onward but it was found that the lack of business knowledge of participants meant that they were overwhelmed. Consequentially, the decisions were phased to replicate the stages involved when exploring an entrepreneurial opportunity and this overcame the problems.

Another reason for Task Progression is where the simulation is used as a Course Theme to link the simulation to course content.

Issue Progression

Each circle in the figure below represents a business issue. In the real world issues overlap, are interwoven and tangled. To improve and clarify learning, with simulations we have the opportunity to reduce complexity, overlap and entanglement. The three right hand figures illustrate how a simulation can be designed to the change importance of issues and new issues introduced as a simulation progresses and so focus progressively on different issues.

In the real world issues overlap and entangle.

Real World Issues

Initally the simulation focuses on two nain issues with two lesser issues

Simulation Issues (1)

Here, as the simulation progresses one of the lesser issues grows in importance while the importance of the other original issues reduce and a new issue arrives.

Simulation Issues (2)

Here a new important issue is introduced, the issue introduced during  the last period increases in impotance , two issues disappear and the two remaining issues lessen.

Simulation Issues (3)

My Prospector simulation used Issues Progressions to take through the process associated with finding, researching, bidding for and winning contracts.

One approach would be to present the participants with a portfolio of possible projects across all stages. However, it was decided to set up the simulation with a blank portfolio so that initially participants had to search for project and explore the issues with this. Once a few possibilities had been found participants could move on pre-qualifying projects - rejecting some and moving others onto tendering and base on the outcomes move on the negotiation.

Issues progression is particularly appropriate to Process Simulations (where participants explore a business process) but can be used where there is a need to focus on different issues (such as growing sales, profitability, cash flow or liquidity) in depth at different times.

The importance and number of issues change from period-to-period to reduce cognitive load and focus on specific, defined learning objectives. However, to ensure deep cognitive processing and discussion, the issues must still overlap and interact to some extent.

Business Progression

Business Progression is based on the impact of the decisions on the outcomes period-by-period. For example, my Product Launch simulation changed price sensitivity as participants penetrated the market and this replicated the way that as a market is penetrated customer types evolve (as different types of customers adopt the product (Rogers, 1962)). This means that as the customer base is penetrated price sensitivity increases.

Commonly, for Total Enterprise Business Acumen simulations, participant actions cause the business to progresses from profit poor & cash rich to profit rich & cash poor. This causes a move from developing sales and profit growth strategies to conserving cash, being constrained by liquidity and having to forecast demand accurately.

Ad Hoc Progression

Ad Hoc Progression involves the introduction of ad hoc changes (Ordway, 1977) or shocks (Snyder, 1999) by the tutor as the simulation progresses. For example, in DISTRAIN it is possible for the trainer to override the pre-defined growth in sales demand to simulate a disruptive event such as a hurricane.

Ordway, Nicholas (1977) Adaptive Rule Changes in Computer Simulation Gaming a means of pedagogical reactive interchange, New Horizons in Simulation Games and Experiential Learning, Volume 4

Snyder L. T. (1999) Applying shocks to TE simulations: A demonstration, Developments in Business Simulation & Experiential Exercises, Volume 26, 1999

2015 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 16/04/15
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