Fantasy CEO – Round 3 Annual Report

Filthy LucreHow worrying is it that I was exchanging emails and spreadsheets with a complete stranger called Shane at 5.50 on Saturday morning? Hopefully he was emailing from Hong Kong or Sydney. He has harvested the first two rounds of results from the Times website. (Only registered players can log in – everyone else is limited to the table of averages).

A couple of unexpected things appear to come out the data.

Firstly there were only about 470 participants in Round 2, but not everyone who dropped out of Round 1 did badly: the drop-outs are spread remarkably evenly throughout. The chap who had over $5m profit in the first round has left us – maybe he decided to take the virtual dollars and run. I’m curious why people who were doing well dropped out – didn’t they realise how well they were doing, or did they decide their time was better spent being good at their real businesses? Or maybe their partners had had enough and unplugged their PCs.

Also, scores can go down as well as up: the people in the top 10 places at the end of Round 1 who are still in the game scored as follows in Round 2:

Round 1 Place Round 2 Place Dropped out
1st 191
2nd 39
3rd 1
4th 458 (dropped out)
5th 463 (dropped out)
6th 55
7th 75
8th 466 (dropped out)
9th 3
10th 16
11th 20
12th 51
13th 468 (dropped out)
14th 467 (dropped out)
15th 44

From 1st to 191st is a pretty dramatic drop, and you see what I mean about the drop-outs being evenly spread? The top 10 scorers in Round 2 came from all over the field and their scores in Round 1 were:

Round 1 Place Round 2 Place
3 1st
47 2nd
9 3rd
63 4th
152 5th
18 6th
132 7th
290 8th
190 9th
100 10th

The ranking in the early rounds may be volatile but it’ll stabilise pretty soon I’m sure. If it was actually raining outside I’d be tempted to analyse the data to find out what the average change from Round 1 to Round 2 was, but there are weeds in the garden which need pulling up by the roots.

I’m not saying where I am in this whole thing, but I went into Round 3 feeling rather pleased because my ranking in the league had improved even though I’d fallen behind one of the five robot players I’m competing with in the simulation.

The Times tell us the final league table will be based on the Balanced Scorecard, which is how Shane and I have been ranking the players.

A brief aside here: the Balanced Scorecard was devised by Robert Kaplan and David Norton to help companies tune and track their progress in ways that aren’t just dollars and cents. For example, if being green is important to a company and it uses recycled paper even though it is more expensive, then its “sustainability” score goes up balancing out the fact that the “profitability” score goes down. The Balanced Scorecard is there to stop the lunatics, sorry, to stop the accountants taking over the asylum. In practice, I think it may just give them a wider range of beans to count.

So I spent most of Friday plonking my way through the tutorial to discover how to predict which way my customers will jump. In the end it still seemed to come down to licking my finger and holding it up in the wind so I am not convinced they were hours well spent, though I may have been using better informed lick.

Then on Saturday I checked my decision-making against the Balanced Scorecard. This forced me to undo various decisions I made last week – for example I’d made the production lines too big and I’m clearly not going to sell all the product I can currently make. I’m glad I’d doing this on my own, I’m not fond of recriminations and acrimony. I reached the point a couple of times where my decisions all seemed to balance out – if I spent more on marketing my “awareness” score went up but my “profitability” score went down. After bringing it up from about 34, I stalled with a predicted score of 43 until I realised that borrowing is good so long as your profits outweigh the interest charges, (think “buy-to-let”) and after that my predicted score climbed to the mid 50s where it stalled again.

One thing this has reinforced is the danger of relying on assumptions and not planning for things to go wrong. If you assume you will sell 1000 widgets and leave no room for selling fewer or more, then you’ll end up in deep doo-doo if your customers only want 500 or if they want 1500. It’s intuitive enough that you’ll be stuffed if you make 1000 widgets and only sell 500 because your fixed costs like staff, rent and insurance stay the same and your income’s gone down. However it’s not as intuitive that only having 1000 widgets if your customers want 1500 will stuff you too, in this case over-time will eat up your profits and if you run out of stock completely as I did in Round 1, you’ll just hand your competitors over to your customers on a plate – in real life you’d never get them all back.

So how did Aphra Inc do in Round 3? AT first sight it looks as if I’ve been over-cautious again; I am certainly solvent, but I could have sold more widgets than I made. This is often described as “a nice problem to have” but in reality it’s still a problem and it means I’m not accurate enough with my forecasting.

My investment in marketing and sales activities is paying off, and the decisions I make are doing a good job of making my original strategy happen. I am pleased to know that I can have a vision of what sort of company Aphra Inc should be, and make the decisions that makes that happen in our little simulated on-line world.

The differences between my predicted results and my actual results this Round show that my financial decisions and marketing decisions were better than predicted, but running out of stock damaged my overall score. The Times have not yet updated the scores published on their results page, so it’s impossible to tell where I rank among the remaining players.

The phrase “could do better” is ringing in my head.

Onwards and onwards.

PS – I’m not the only one focussing on the Balanced Scorecard, The Times today have written up the Balanced Scorecard up in today, with a mention of this very blog!

Advertisements

22 responses to “Fantasy CEO – Round 3 Annual Report

  1. another round is gone and i have started to get it. i have wasted a lot of money in R&D for products that cant be sold because they are not on the map of high or low segments. Stupid, i wanted to get to the niche markets. i should have read the instructions earlier.
    about the results, anyone knows where i can see the rankings. i can only see the the list people in a random not ranked.
    and about the other 5 players in the group… are they real??
    keep up the good work!!

  2. Hi Andrew

    I’ve decided to ignore the rankings from now on. I’ve spent ages copying and pasting the 13 pages of results into a spreadsheet and sorting it in every imaginable order, I’ve concluded that the rankings have some fairly fundamental flaws, ( see my comment on my previous post here: http://tinyurl.com/26myzw ).

    The five other players aren’t real. We are all playing against the computer, which is probably the simplest way for them to make sure the playing field’s level.

    Good luck with bringing yourself around, it’s a good game, but there is a huge amount to take in.

    All the best

    Aphra.

  3. I have looked at the results and ranked according to total of the first four (balanced scorecard points) columns. If I sum these four columns I can get them to correspond to the totals of my completed rounds. I believe the remaining columns, profit etc. will play a part in the recap total at the end but I don’t think you can derive much from them at the moment.

    The order the results are listed in may correspond to the order submitted or something. This must be deliberate. If people logged on and could easily see their place I am sure even more of the 3800 would drop out.

    So far so good for me.

    Good luck to all.

    Nick

  4. I played round 3 with the Balanced Scorecard in mind. Every decision I made was then tweaked to get as high a predicted score as possible. As I had previously sold out of product I upped my sales budgets and went with an optomistic sales prediction. Unfortunately my sales were lower than expected. This left me with a cash shortage and needing an emergency loan.
    OK I managed the best score so far, but the knock on effect of the emergency loan, which has damaged my credit rating may cost me dearly. I have a new product launching this year and will have to do some creative accounting to fund it’s promotion, especially if I am to continue with aggressive pricing on my low tech product.

  5. I am still confused about the Times Rankings. I can only see one 13 page list of everyone from 1-633.

    How did you conclude there are only 470 players left, and how do we know which round it is showing results for?

    Peace and God Bless!

  6. Nick, I’m glad you couldn’t work out why they’re published in that order, because it makes me feel marginally less stupid. I hadn’t thought of the order submitted.

    Fettling, it is thwarting, isn’t it? I’ve sold out two rounds in a row now, and got clobbered with “out of stock” penalties on the scorecard even though it didn’t put me in the black. Good luck with hustling up the cash for the new product.

    Andre, the Times Rankings are confusing. See my comment here: http://tinyurl.com/26myzw Shayne and I concluded there were only 470 or so remaining players because the scores for a couple of hundred people had not changed between Round 1 and Round 2, while the scores for everyone else had gone up. The reason I know they haven’t updated the scores since Round 3 is because Shayne copied and pasted all 13 pages into a spreadsheet after Round 1, and then did the same after Round 2, and there’ve been no changes to the scores published since then.

    I’ve emailed the Times with my concerns about the scores, and we’ll have to see what they do.

    Good luck, all, and thanks for commenting.

    Aphra.

  7. Is anyone clear about how they will determine the winner of this competition?
    There are various references to ‘the highest overall score’, yet I am not sure what the definition of that is.
    I have posted a question on the Times site, but 2 days later no hint of a response or comment from the Times.
    I’ll be asking the Foundation helpline immediately following this and will report back if noone has been able to shed light in the meantime.

  8. Jen I believe that the balanced scorecard will be used. Highest points win with a facility for tie-breaking. It has taken me the three rounds to suss that one out. By the way, this is a really good blog site, more info than the official one so thanks for the facility. Any ideas on what constitues a good number at the current moment?

  9. it must be definitely better than 150

  10. the top score after round 3 will be greater than or equal to 175

  11. how do you figure that out? If that’s the case, I’m way behind!!

  12. It seems like Times ppl have stopped updating the rankings. Has anyone been able to get the new rankings as yet?

  13. Jen, you might get more luck if you email the CEO help email address – ceohelp@timesonline.co.uk

    Ron, I’m glad you like this site, and thanks for saying so!

    Andrews, KR, I’m curious how you come to those figures, though I’ve not tried to come to a figure myself.

    K-Man, I emailed the Times and asked about the scores page and they said they were working on it and expected that it “should be better” by the end of the week. Shall we buy it some grapes?

    Thanks all for reading and commenting.

    Aphra

  14. Results have been updated

    A totals column has been added, as has links to previous rounds

    The ranking is by profit order again

    I have sorted the results by point order if anybody is interested;

    Top 10

    1 ***** 175.2
    2 ***** 164.2
    3 ***** 161.5
    4 ***** 161.2
    5 ***** 157.8
    6 ***** 157
    7 ***** 154.7
    8 ***** 154.1
    9 ***** 153.1
    10 *****153

    Good luck in round 4 everyone

    Shane
    ‘Keep it Unreal’ πŸ™‚

  15. Aphra,

    I came up woth that figure because that is my score

    Good luck everyone

    KR

  16. Thanks again for the responses and now that I see the results no wonder you knew KR, well done!! Aphra the results pages do look quite comprehensive now so thank you for ‘chivvying’ The Times.

    On with the show and good luck everyone.

  17. Hey KR πŸ™‚ Well done on leading the comp. to date.

    Have you played these type of simulations before?

    Shane
    ‘Keep it Unreal’ πŸ™‚

  18. I had a look at the new tables and am quite happy I’m doing OK (that is, if being within the top 100 merits the joy) since I don’t quite understand the scorecard, or the other results for that matter.
    For instance, I’m supposed to have about 70% share of the market but my own results -the ones in which I only compete against the other 5 computer generated players- tell me that I’ve only got 30%.

    Where does that 70% come from?

    Anyway, I’ve just uploaded my final decisions for round 4. Have fun everyone!
    Dar

  19. Thanks for the update Shane – please keep ’em coming.

    KR – D’oh! Now I feel dumb. Congratulations on consistently impressive scores so far, and keep it up!

    Ron, I know other folks chivvied them too; I think they sorted it by popular demand.

    Dar, you aren’t the only one who finds some of the scoring in some of the other columns like “profits” decidedly odd.

    Incidentally, the total numbers of players is quite interesting:

    Signed up: 3880
    Round 1: 631
    Round 2: 471
    Round 3: 398

    Good luck in the next round, everyone.

    Aphra.

  20. Finally!!!! πŸ˜€
    Fantasy CEO Full Results Table are ranked by points order, phew!
    (Recap not included in score, added at end)

    Only took them ’til round 4 to sort the results into something we can look at and properly understand.

    Anyway, fingers crossed for later on today πŸ˜‰

    Shane
    ‘Keep it Unreal’ πŸ™‚

  21. That’s good news.

    The hand-off of the scores from MSI to the Times was the teansiest bit un-thought through, wasn’t it?

    Good to have it here at last. Just when I’d mastered V-Lookups, specially.

    Good luck for this afternoon, everyone.

    Aphra.

  22. Shane ,
    This is the first time we ( a team of three ) are playing a game like this . We take lot of time before finalizing the decisions ( basically to get the maximum possible BSC score – 2 points , room for future rounds ). Also another imp tip is look at the future rounds expectations in terms of net profit and other parameters and prepare for the same atlease one round in advance. Also try to hit the max possible recap score i.e 240, so work back wards in terms of sales , netprofit , etc.

    Good luck every one and thanks.
    KR

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s