A business simulation or an event using a business simulation is sponsored by an organisation to help prospective graduate employees learn about business and build a relationship with the organisation.
A large high technology company that sponsored a two-day workshop each autumn for final year design students that it was thinking of recruiting. A business simulation took up just over half a day of the workshop with the rest consisting of a series of presentations by senior management describing the company and management issues.
Reasons for Use
Practical Issues with use
Suitable Business Simulations
Many students have no experience of business. Thus an activity that provides this experience and understanding is particularly beneficial. Because students are likely to have very limited business knowledge it helps if each team has a company coach to help them. It also helps if there are several presentations where company executives discuss management issues and relate what the students are learning from the simulation with the sponsoring company and its issues..
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE STUDENTS
The coaching and formal presentations help with this process. Additionally, company executives can join the group for meals and possibly help with the business simulation .
The academic prowess of a student does not, necessarily, show how well they will apply this knowledge. Nor does it show how well the student will fit into the organisation (be a team worker). By observing prospective employees solving business problems and making decisions this risk is reduced.
SUITABLE BUSINESS SIMULATIONS
The ideal business simulation will involve running a complete business, relatively simple and reflect the company's business. Simplicity is important both because the students will have limited business knowledge and only a limited amount of time can be budgeted to the activity. Reflecting the company's business is important as the purpose is to give the students an idea about how the company's business works. My Challenge Series consists of a family of short total enterprise business simulations each replicating a different industry (manufacturing, retail, distribution, service, banking, not-for-profit and, even, casinos).
VISITORS & TUTORS
One purpose is to allow prospective employees to meet with the sponsoring organisation's management. Management can join the group at meals, act as "coaches" during the simulation and make presentations about business and the organisation. The coaching role is briefly described below. Since middle managers are not all good at presenting this is a risk area. To minimise this risk these sessions should be rehearsed and input obtained from a professional trainer.
MATURITY & BACKGROUND
Because of their age and lack of decision making experience participants there is a risk that participants treat the simulation as a "game". Also, often, the target audience is not studying business - they may be scientists, engineers, economists or even arts graduates. Thus participants need to be coached and receive advice.
The coaching role is vital. A company employee as coach or mentor with each team. This coach provides the business advice that is necessary because of the graduates' lack of experience and, possibly, knowledge. This builds the relationship and provides an excuse for the staff member to observe and assess participants.
Please email me for a copy of a brief for the coaches
SUPPORTING THE COACH
The coach should be provided with copies of the reports received by the teams. The coaches should receive further information high lighting the issues that teams should be considering (strengths, weaknesses etc.). This allows the coaches to be forewarned of problems and be able to advise their team proactively. The pre-digested information also helps the coach explain results and this ensures that the coach is seen to be a real expert!
Pressure of final exams means that it is best to run the course in the early part of the final year. This might be at, or towards, the end of the autumn (fall) term (semester).
Source: Churchill Fellowship Study and chapter in my latest book - Corporate Cartooning Book (find out more).
Most recent update: 04/04/12
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