Business Strategy Games

The Business Strategy Game is a hands on learning exercise that will give managers valuable decision-making practice and develop powers of business judgment. Business strategy games involving management process before confirming the decision to be made. Lesson learned taken from the business game, from the process and the content from the case (industry and situation & condition of the business) is used for decision making. Various processes involved in business strategy games are;

Management Process

Planning was the first process taken. Reading and understanding the relevant information was necessary and plays a significant role in planning process. Expectation was established in the planning, and followed stepping process until all aspects have been determined, including all distinctiveness in production (capacity, model, etc.), transportation (shipping), labor, etc. Planning is critical, and it was indicated in the business strategy games, in which it required quite some time to achieve an agreement. Time was also a factor should be considered, and it drove the discussion on the planning to obtain the agreement. Organizing was also needed in the game to obtain optimal process. One opinion was listened and it organized the discussion and the direction of the process toward certain strategy. Other opinion was taking in to consideration, whether support or as devil advocacy to the strategy.

The process also managed by organizing the flow of discussion to center on the strategy with already decided to be focused on. One person plays role as organizer at one time became a source person or follower in the other time. This approach of organizing made the progress of the discussion in the one focal point that describes the strategy taken which leads to the decision. When a member played the role as organizer, then the member did directing the process and content according to the chosen strategy, and also can happened that the strategy can be changed according to the expected result and considering assumption of strategy of the competitors. Some times in the process, one or more member can have their drive going down. In this situation other member did motivated the team to keep up the winning spirit. Controlling was also involved in the process, by focus on one thing and sacrifices in other thing, align with the strategy. These four processes of management were implemented in the process of gaining the final decision and in determining the content to be made (such as production/manufacturing, shipping, labor, price, etc.), in which the final decision was made by consensus.

The experience in the game gives the learning point in practicing of implementing management process, planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Within a given time, group should be able to do planning (including crafting the strategy, and establish the goal), organizing the process (including agreed on the road map of the process, listening and expressing opinion, and adjusting to the characteristics of the group), directing (including do and accept direction, motivating others, make or initiate decision), and controlling (to be aligned with strategy).

Management Functions

Strategy plays a critical role in the process, and aim to make the company have differentiation that creates competitive edge compare with the competitors. Decisions are determined align with the chosen strategy. Strategy such as increasing market share and or increasing price to obtain more profit, and or have a low cost production by moving the manufacturing to the low cost location, and or lowering the labor cost, and or increasing the quality of the product, etc., were became the issues discussed during the process. Any decision made in the process should be linked to the strategy and eventually to the expected result (goal).

Marketing management initiatives plays important role in the process. Attention was put in the advertising or promotion program. The decision on the initiatives was made in relation with other initiatives, and initiative should be congruence to be able to reach expected impact.

Operations management was also applied, in order to have efficient and low cost production, to be able to lower the price, or put emphasizing in better quality of product and therefore adjust the price to a higher number. Having different locations of manufacturing was also part of consideration in operation management, including the days needed for shipping, and inventory level.

Financial management was critical. At the end of the day, the success of the strategy, whether the plan was achieved of not, was determined by facts and figures which was analyzed and interpreted in terms of financial. The situation or condition of the company was considering of profitable, safe or potentially bankrupt, and whether the strategy was effective or not was determined from numbers including financial ratios. Production plan and realization, exchange rate, labor cost, product sold or unsold, inventory level, price, etc. were contributed to the financial condition, and will be analyzed further for determining next strategy (for next run).

Human Resource was also had major role in the decision process. Number of labor involved, salary and incentives, were several factors considered in human resource function. During the discussion it was also considered incentive factors as the factor that can boost the motivation of the employees, in which can increase the productivity and eventually proportionally can lower the cost.

Experience in the business games told that the management functions will be more effective if it was take into consideration in integrated way. The strategy made was comprise of many functions of management.

Working in Teams

Team work was a factor that can smooth the progress of the practice toward a productive way. At one time one member took the role as leader, and expressed the idea or opinion which regarded as reference that was supported or argued by other members. The leader than guide or direct the process toward obtaining acceptable or best solution. Other member played role as follower, tried to understand point of view of the leader, and gave opinion to enrich the information for having the decision. In one process it can happened that the role of leader was switch from one member to another member, and lead the discussion toward the decision.

Working in team in the business games demonstrated by listening to other opinions or ideas and, gave contribution to the group by doing analysis and expressing constructive argument and idea or opinion to the group. In the process of making group decision, group tried to obtain consensus, with all group members support the decision.

Experience and Lesson Taken to Working Place

In leading unit in the working place, it is important to have clear goals for the unit, which are determined in the process of performance planning that usually take place at the beginning of the year. The goals comprises of organization (unit) objective, and individual objective which should be clear and measurable and cascaded from top to bottom, means that the goals are aligned from executive or manager position to staff position. Having a clear goals or expectations will make all employees within the unit know exactly what are expected to be achieved and will make the monitoring of performance become more effective, and eventually it will make the evaluation of the achievement more effective. Leader should be able to define the goals, which reflected what the unit wants to be, particularly for the respective year.

For the unit, strategy than decided to define what is the best way to achieve the goals or answering how to get there. Leader should be able to determine the strategy, which should consider of having different way of doing rather than just following the same thing. Strategy should have put into consideration opportunities and obstacles that can potentially will be faced along the year. For the unit performance, flow of work, service level agreement, number of employee, training and development program that will have impact to the quality of work, compensation practice, etc. should be considered in order to have effective strategy.

Every people in the organization have potential, and leader should put effort to unleash the potential of the individual and support them to perform in their work. Many initiatives of improvement or programs come from the people in the unit that can give positive impact to the unit. Motivation is needed to keep the work spirit not fall to the lower level. Leader should do coaching to ensure people in the unit understand and on track, make sure that people move to the same direction with same strategy. Every function of management can be implemented to achieve optimum result. Managing the operation implemented to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of work. Human resource management will help in ensuring what unit do are align with the business. Financial management can be implement whether in business or support function, for instance to measure Return on Investment of certain initiatives.

As member of management team, we should contribute in a positive way by giving opinion and ideas, or doing what has been decided productively. Discussion should be conducted in conducive way, listen what other people say and express opinion to reach to the decision. When decision has been made, member should follow and committed to perform the decision in effectively. Success of the unit is also determined by the competency, performance, and contribution of the members. To have an optimum result, member should be able to look the purpose as unit purpose not individual purpose. This principle can create synergy between members in the team and can contribute more to the performance of the team.

The business strategy games provide inspiration that can be applied in the working situation. Having competitors that can affect the result of one group convey the message that in establishing standard, one unit should not look into inside factors, but should also consider outside factors. The capability of the unit can be seen differently and will lead to different goals and strategy. Strategy can be different if the external condition is supportive and indicates opportunity and will be different if the external conditions are not accommodating. Macro and micro analysis can be conducted to have a more comprehensive analysis for obtaining effective and right decision.

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