The most invaluable course component of the MBA! Jena said.
Startup Sim (an updated version of Intopia) is a management simulation focused on entrepreneurship and cooperation in which teams of participants define, set up, and manage a small business from business planning, through the startup phase, to maturity.
Teams do not receive an on-going company, rather they are given a starting capital to set up their business in a pre-defined value chain where there are dozens of possibilities. As time goes by, it is possible to redefine the business model and change the business to cope with the shifts in the market and competitive environment.
Operating in the high tech industry, participants create a universe of suppliers, customers, and end-users; in order to succeed, teams must establish partnerships (supplier/customer, joint R&D, resource allocations, etc.) without which they cannot prosper.
What do you think about this business simulation?
I was really impressed by the level of sophistication and complexity of the simulation.
As it takes place towards the conclusion of the MBA Program, it gives us the final opportunity to demonstrate, reinforce and apply the theoretical business concepts we are taught throughout the year while further strengthening our decision making and teamwork skills.
What did you learn?
By the end of the MBA program, you have absorbed an unbelievable amount of information. The Simulation requires that you bring all of this knowledge together and apply it to an artificial Company in a Simulated market environment (with all of the realistic supply and demand forces embedded therein). I learned that in order to lead an organization to success you have to find the balance between trusting your team members to autonomously act in good faith and in the best interest of the Organization, and ensuring that you maintain close adherence to its Strategy.
In a live, time pressurized platform, you are urged to affect commercial decisions, with each one not only having consequences within your Company but also affecting other participants in the Value Chain.
Since the simulation “only” imitated the dynamics and challenges of a real-life business world, it helped me “fail fast and fail cheap”.
What are the key takeaways?
You cannot beat the competition alone. Form as many alliances as you can. Turn your rivals into partners. Grow the pie before you begin to slice it. When the simulation ended and the professors published the results, I understood that forming the R&D partnership with a rival, concluding the exclusive sale agreement with a wholesaler, rapidly scaling the production base, and opening more sales stores were vital for success.
Develop (and adhere to) a Company Decision Cycle. It ensures your Company adapts and responds to market forces in an efficient, systematic, and logical manner. Efficient Processes are incredibly useful when applied consistently.
Communicating constantly the strategies and explaining the reasons for the decisions to the team members highly motivated all of us and teaches us a lot from one another.
A strategy is not here to stay, it is here to be changed and adapted to the current conditions.
Winning on the short term doesn’t specifically means winning at the end!
Is it important in an MBA program?
The Simulation touched every single course component of the MBA, from Accounting, Operations, and Supply Chain Management to Global Business Strategy and Negotiation.
It helped us apply the three approaches of a strategy: financial, managerial, and business strategy. It also showed that strategies changes, and adaptation to the current market condition is key to survival.
Also, this exercise is based on communication skills and interaction much more than on the financials. And this is key in the business environment and especially for future entrepreneurs, to go negotiate deals that are mutually beneficial. It was really interactive, and that is the type of exercise all MBA should do.
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