The Logical Philosopher

Friday, October 28, 2005

Trump, Business Simulations and the future of MBA programs

Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.
Donald Trump "Trump: Art of the Deal"

While taking courses during my MBA we played an interactive stragegy game called SABRE Simulation where, depending on both our business decisions and the other teams decisions, lets you see the progress of your budding company & marketspace. There are a few more out on the business-school market, like Capstone, which offer the same experiences. A more static game I have played is the book by Craig Hickman called "The Strategy Game". This book essentially gives two options at the end of each chapter, and based on your decision you move to a specified non-sequential chapter.

The thing that inspires me about these types of strategy games is their learning potential vastly outstrips reading a book, article or other business commentary - in short it provides both real time content and context to the readers decisions. Much like Trump many of my fellow MBA students find the excitement in the business game. Why? Because of the continual aspect of learning, adapting and reapplying business skills in a work environment.

So why is this relevant? Many MBA programs are starting to carve out niche specializations, both in content and delivery style. Ivey and Harvard are famous for their case-study style programs whereas others offer more coursework with a "focused MBA" in Entrepreneurship, Family Business, Technology, IT, Airline/Transportation Management, etc. I would argue that the next step for programs is a more integrated effort with the simulation games. Discounting academia's typical reluctance to shift the utopian walls to a different level I would say it is the next necessary technology step. It just may keep some of the smaller niche MBA programs alive by differentiating themselves as the "dynamic case studies", much like the academic reputation Ivey and Harvard have done in the past.

Where do we go from here? I've been thinking of creating a simulation game for awhile, maybe now it's time to start to seriously consider it to have it ready for the next academic revolution. Any thoughts on what the simulation should consider?