Fantasy CEO – Round 5 Annual Report

Filthy LucreA number of the people who commented here have been kind enough to answer my questions about how they are playing Fantasy CEO, and I plan to write them up for the Round 6 Annual Report. I’ve been brutally short of time this week, or I’d be doing that now.

I ended up feeling rather sulky about this round. I couldn’t get the decisions to come good and I was working against the clock which added pressure. I pride myself on being able to track cause and effect across the width and breadth of complex systems so it is a bit of a blow to find that I can’t track the consequences of changing so few parameters in my head. Mind you, I thought we only had a dozen or so decisions to make but actually it’s about 50 – it seems I can’t add up either. As I said, ended up in a sulk with the whole thing. It seems I’m not the only one who’s willing to have a bit of a whinge about it all.

I’m finding it harder to stick to my strategy and I cannot tell if that is because it’s inherently flawed or if my early investment in new products, marketing, new plant and so on will in fact come good and start looking after themselves, making the next rounds profitable. I’ve been rattling around between the top 25% and the top 20% for most of the previous rounds, and I have a horrible feeling that I am about to slither down into the lower reaches of the league table. I am also aware that I am driving my strategy based on positioning my product in the market and then taking my financial decisions to pay for everything and so it’s not surprising that my financial outcomes such as stock price and bond price are all over the place. This is because I don’t really understand them and the game is ruthlessly exposing my ignorance.

As the game’s creator pointed out in the Times last week, being able to talk the thing through really helps, but like a lot of people I’m playing alone. In fact I feel like the Ancient Mariner, with wedding guests hurrying off as fast as they can when they smell the stench of albatross carcass. If you play this in a business school environment there would presumably be a session at the end of each round for discussion and analysis, and I know that I am missing out on lessons I could be learning because of that. It would help immensely if the Times had put up a discussion board at the start of the game.

Whinge, as I’ve already said. Moan.

I’m finding the complexity baffling, to be honest, and it is giving me a greater respect for the other functions in a business. For example, I absolutely see the necessity for 5 year plans, and this has increased my respect for those who run public companies and manage to balance the need for long term investment with throwing bloody gobbets of steak to the stock market in the short term.

All in all, when I hit “submit” at the end of Round 5 I just wanted to wail “it isn’t fa-ai-ai-air” and bugger off for a riotous weekend. In the end I did better than I expected: my balanced scorecard for this round was better than predicted though worse than last week’s and much worse than the game’s leaders are achieving. My forecasting was better too – I had a couple of dozen units left of one item, and only just sold out of the other three. Luck or judgement? I still have a horrible feeling it’s luck. I’ve still got a lot to read and get out of the reports we get at the end of the round, but I was interested to see that the stock market price of one of my robotic competitors has peaked and fallen, though mine is still gradually climbing.

In other news – I’m still not commenting on the scores as they compare against each other, because the Times’s published tables still seem very odd.

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4 responses to “Fantasy CEO – Round 5 Annual Report

  1. Sounds like you at least have consistency, an achievement in itself. I have yo-yoed up and down and enjoyed the ride, then become depressed when seeing that my peer group have a better group have a better grasp of the game – and I run a company!

  2. Well, here we are again. Good results in general but still some overprodution, and, therefore a last minute visit to Big Al.
    I´ve done my utmost to grab a bit more of the market in line with my strategy but to no avail. The latest tables on the Times website say I´ve got nearly nearly 100% market share. Might that be the reason?
    Does anyone else have the feeling that besides playing against our robotic friends, we´re playing abiding by the unknown rules of a parallel universe?

  3. Like EL writes, enjoy the ride. As with all of these things there can be but one winner of the main prize but everyone still left should indulge themselves in a self-congratulatory celebration!

    Look at it in the context of the number of companies that there are in the universe and how many are at number one – do other CEO’s beat themselves up because they aren’t there? Some may. Most, I suspect, just get on with growing their businesses and trying to make the ‘right’ decision at a point in time.

    Now these decisions are always going to be bounded by circumstances and imperfect information – much like the game – so if you get a positive score on your decisions (As I recall, there is some research that shows that successful managers get 54% of their decision correct, but don’t quote me on that until I do bit of digging) be content whilst learning for the next time you are faced with similar circumstances.

    So basically ‘chin up’ three rounds to go for it, come what may; there is still honour in not being first!!

  4. I am certainly enjoying the ride, EL. At one point it looked as if force majeure would come between me and my PC again, and I was grinding my teeth at the thought of being out of the game.

    Definitely a parallel universe, Dar! What worries me is that it is probably simpler and less quirky than real life.

    Ron, you hit on the nail on the head – there is most definitely honour in taking part.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

    Aphra.

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