entrepreneurship training through the use of dynamic, real time simulation engagement
Notably missing in the Trinbagonian arena for business training and development is the practical learning experience where students can gain hands on experience and put to practice classroom theory.
NSSEC will fill this void with a business simulation competition. Using premier business simulation training will give students a practical and realistic new venture creation experience. This experience will equip students in Trinidad and Tobago with the necessary skills and experience to foster critical thinking in the domain of entrepreneurship and give them the confidence to make strategic decisions that will impact the development of their business ventures in the future. Instead of only awarding young business minded students money to create business opportunities, participation in the contest will train students in an engaging manner and help them build their entrepreneurial sense with real life decision-making, complicated by real life competitive forces.
The competition will be administered using Innovative Learning Solutions’ Marketplace Live (ILS) business simulation. The game is accessible online, from any internet connected computer with a browser and does not require the download of any special programs. All participants are issued a license code, username and password that allows play in the dynamic simulation. Players on the same team will have access to their company’s information, however, the information they receive on competing teams will be limited to information that would be publicly available in a real world scenario, for example, the prices and advertising content of competitors products. Company information such as employee salaries and benefits, manufacturing capabilities and profitability of the competitors are not available to competing teams, as it would be in the real world. Teams must learn to make decisions based on limited information and deal with the implications of doing so. Participants develop the skills of being innovative in their thinking, proactive in the decision-making, strategic in their risk taking and balancing the costs of doing so with the potential rewards.
The Competition Format
Teams will be divided into 8 regions across Trinidad and Tobago (no need to be based on geographic location). Each region will host 8 teams, including up to 5 individual players, to compete with the 7 other teams in their region. Players ideally would be in Forms 4 – 6 (14 – 19 years old) as of the first term of the 2017 calendar year, and while an academic business background is a plus, is it by no means a necessity. The competition will be open to boys, girls and mixed gender schools who all compete on a level playing field. Indeed, the competition will serve to be inclusive and accessible to all secondary schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Gameplay is organized into 8 decision-making periods each one to two weeks apart (customizable) as to allow for team collaboration and analysis. Before the weekly decision deadline, all teams will input and submit their decisions. The game then simulates ‘3 months’ of business activity based upon the individual team decisions, and importantly, based on the impact of the decisions of competing teams.
The competition’s benefit will be maximized via the engagement of schools, sponsors and the general public, and will be aided by extensive marketing efforts. Every week after the teams submit their decisions, a published leader board will reflect the current standings of the competition. Similar to sports, this leaderboard creates excitement with a potentially new leader every week. Teams will learn to adapt and overcome obstacles created by the competition and the environment to succeed and how to alter their strategy to be successful. Students will gain an appreciation for strategic decision-making and its short, medium and long term implications.
Teams are scored based on the balanced scorecard approach, which encompasses ten measures of performance including:
- Financial performance
- Investment in the future
- Human resource management
- Marketing effectiveness
- Manufacturing efficiency
- Market performance
- Asset management
- Financial risk
- Total performance
participants are encouraged to consider an all-encompassing view of their organization. Teams for example, that attempt to maximize short term profitability at the expense of longer term success may show strong financial performance, but weak investment in the future. In another example, it is not enough to create demand for products (marketing effectiveness) to be successful. The demand must also be satisfied with actual product that functions as expected (manufacturing efficiency).
The team with the highest score on the balanced scorecard as calculated by the simulation among all the game will be awarded the NSSEC challenge trophy, which will be up for grabs annually. Members of the first place team will be awarded with full scholarships, with the second and third place teams winning partial scholarships to Arthur Lok Jack GSB.
The Simulation Training
The Marketplace Live, is one of the world’s most popular business simulations and is currently used in hundreds of universities and corporations worldwide including: University of Toronto, Penn State, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Auckland, National University of Singapore, Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, BMW among hundreds of others.
From the ILS website: “Our entrepreneurship simulations are ideal for developing and assessing an entrepreneurship mind-set. The simulations enable participants to become an entrepreneur and experience the highs and lows of running a start-up enterprise. They will need to juggle all aspects of their business including marketing, sales, staff, products and their financial accounts. Simulations are specifically designed to place participants in a realistic environment, where they are able to manage the entire organization, its departments and its overall performance”.