This is really hard work! I know that business is complicated but it is another thing altogether to get your head around an entire (simulated) manufacturing company in a weekend, and around the skills that are usually spread right across the marketing, operations and finance functions and beyond. I know it’s my own blame that I’m cramming this weekend, and that I am doing it on my own, but I’m still feeling a little cabin crazy.
I’ve asked myself a few times, ‘why bother?’ It was a lovely day this morning – I really fancied going for a walk. I’ve concluded that I want to do this for a variety of reasons. As I mentioned yesterday, the first of these is bloody mindedness: it was making me nervous, therefore I have to do it. Call it personal growth: feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Another reason is that I am enjoying using the simulator – it’s the most sophisticated set of spreadsheets I ever expect to come across; it’s so sophisticated it doesn’t even look like a spreadsheet. There’s no getting away from it, the simulation and the training material are cool.
I am also aware that as I work my way through the eight ‘year’ cycle I’ll learn things I don’t yet know I don’t know; things about how decisions are made in each function, about how tipping a lever here will impact on the figures over there, about just how important good data really is, and that will be interesting. It is also good practice for me to work with a P&L and a Balance Sheet, rather than staring at them and saying “oh look – that’s a Profit and Loss Account and that’s a Balance Sheet”.
So all in all, my motives are not competitive. I am using this as a chance to study and learn; as a training course provided courtesy of the Times. I know that the Times have set it up as a competition and there will be some immensely competitive folks doing exactly the same thing as me this evening, and I suspect that they will be taking better decisions. This simulation was developed for use in Business Schools where each “company” is played by a number of students each of whom takes a different role – marketing manager, production manager, finance director, etc. I’m just incredibly thankful I’m not having to discuss every single decision I take. It’s hard enough as it is.
So although it’s hard and there have been several times today that I’ve really wanted to stop, I’m carrying on. Besides which, I think the attrition rate will be pretty high; I very much doubt there’ll be 3880 of us by 5.01 pm tomorrow, when we should all have pressed “enter”. But I don’t submit my decisions tonight I’ll lose the chance to participate over the next few weeks, and that would be a shame.
I suspect my decisions are pants, though.