A 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.