There are certain business skills that you can only learn by taking action. All of the business education and theory in the world, attending all of the best lectures, and reading all of the best manuals, cannot truly prepare you for the challenges that await you when doing business for real.
Knowing this, StratX have set course for creating simulated business environments and gamified learning opportunities for students to put their business theory into practice, in a safe and controlled way.
In this article, we will explore the critical business skills that only business education games can teach. Who knew that there was so much that could be learned?
Both long and short-term strategic business thinking are skills that cannot be developed by reading books and sitting in lectures. When there is money on the line, as well as colleagues, employees, contracts, and deals to consider, the strategic businessman has a lot to think about and balance. Through business education games, you can work on both of these modes of thinking without taking genuine financial risks. Will short-term gain triumph over long-term goals? Can novelty trump innovation? You’ll have to play to find out and put your reputation on the line.
Making tough decisions (critical thinking)
For many students, the hardest decision that they’ve made was choosing what to study, and where. Having chosen Business Studies (or a related course), they need opportunities to make hard decisions and to learn how to deal with the fallout or repercussions of a bad decision.
On the flip side, they’ll need to manage how they handle good decisions, and whether they will celebrate wildly or humbly progress onto the next important decision. Business education games provide an opportunity to learn what you’re made of when it comes to pressurised decision-making.
Future management professionals, take note, these games will often put you between a rock and a hard place, something that is all too common in the real business world. Business games will give students a chance to see if they will crumble under pressure, or rise to the top of their class and make a name for themselves. Healthy competition will stimulate and engage a classroom to new heights.
Developing vision for windows of opportunity
Think about any board game you’ve played. Let’s use Monopoly as our example. The winner of Monopoly is not the person who rolled the best numbers, it’s the person who saw the best windows of opportunity to make clever deals, the one who bought houses and hotels at the right time, and the one who was able to cleverly capitalise on weaker players.
Business education games zoom in on this skill and develop vision and opportunism, helping students to understand when is a good time to move, and when is a bad time to move.
Evaluating risk and opportunity are very difficult to do from a theoretical standpoint, so giving students an opportunity to follow their instincts is a great way to develop confidence, as well as patience.
This may be the most critical business skill that business games can develop. Most students start their course as a lone wolf and must learn to ‘win friends and influence people’. By sitting silently in lectures and listening to the expertise of the professor, how can anyone expect to develop human skills like teamwork, support, and sympathy? Good luck to anyone who tries! 91% of students say that collaborative work is the best way to learn – educators, take note.
By gamifying business environments and putting students into teams, you will begin who see who is a natural leader, who takes criticism well, who works for the benefit of the team and who acts selfishly. Have you ever seen The Apprentice? This is exactly why they are put into teams and not made to act as independently.
The winner is often the best team player who can be a ruthless leader when called upon. Consider also that you will be put into teams with people you wouldn’t usually work with, presenting a new opportunity to share knowledge and work in different team dynamics. All of this combines to create a deeper learning experience.
Competition and perspective
Humans, by nature, love competition, and you can expect that business students love it too, that’s why they are preparing themselves for the ultra-competitive business world. Competition unlocks parts of behaviour and decision-making unlike nothing else, which makes hosting competitive business education games a must for any business course.
Students will be more engaged, get a better sense of reward, and interestingly, will be able to learn more from the decisions and actions of other players than they might think.
Seeing someone else do something right or wrong is a lesson in itself and provides more insight than reading about the same technique from a book. Watching a business game and participating in one also provide two perspectives that can be deeply useful to students.
Many students are feedback-driven, which is great for essays and assignments, but what about when we enter the business world? Bosses don’t have time to pull you into their office every time you make a decision to give you a pat on the back or a ticking off.
Thankfully, business education games do provide a platform for feedback, which is vital for helping students to know where to place their energy and what skills to work on.
Sometimes, being on the winning side isn’t everything, but you’ll have to join in to see that for yourself. Business education games can present learning opportunities to both the victors and the losers, meaning that every participant can gain something valuable from the exercise.
Above are some, but not all of the critical business skills that business education games can teach. These experiential learning opportunities to develop new behaviours and unlock attributes that students may not even know they had within them. Help to nurture these skills by giving them the opportunity to take on their classmates!