In which the Times answers some questions…
I got a reply this week from the Times, explaining what appeared to be some anomalies in the scoring. It seems that there is a “recap” score which changes round by round as well as the scores we get for the balanced score card each round. If I understand it aright, the balanced score card assesses your decisions horizontally across a single year, and the recap assesses them based on outcomes vertically across a number of years. The recap score would account for the discrepancies in the published totals. The wheels of the Times may grind slow, but they are finally grinding smooth enough for me.
.. and I don’t!
No comments on how I’ve done in Round 6 – I am in another part of the forest on Monday evening and so this is a post that I prepared earlier. Normal service will be resumed in Round 7.
Instead I’ve asked others what they think:
As I mentioned last week, I thought it high time there were other voices here, and some players were kind enough to reply to questions I asked about the game.
Most of my respondents work in business one way or another, one mainly in small businesses, one clearly in very large ones. Interestingly, one respondent has no direct experience of business at all, being an Economist with a background in Academic Research.
All of them are playing alone, though one said: ... I have tried to involve a couple of colleagues who have a degree or one who is currently doing their CIMA exams but none have really shown interest in terms of delivering help, but what the heck, being a CEO is generally a lonely place in real life so that isn’t too bad an experience, is it?
Here are my questions and some of their answers:
Why did you sign up to play Fantasy CEO? What do you hope to get out of the game?
A couple of those replying wanted to get an insight into parts of a business which they wouldn’t otherwise see, in particular into finance and into the complexities of how large companies work. But that was not the only reason:
I was curious to see how this game would try to replicate reality…
I have always fancied that I would make a good CEO and wanted to prove to myself that I could do this …. On a more serious note, I hoped to do very well at the game and use that to help boost my credibility as an independent provider of ‘C’ level consulting services …
I … just fancied having a go; I have a business degree [and] … I just wanted to see if I could still ‘hack-it’. … I just enjoy the participation, the intellectual exercise.
I love challenges and am keen to test yself all the time, well not the prize money (given progress so far) 🙂 But an insight into this type of training and how useful it is.
Is it what you expected? What are you getting out of it?
… I am now reaching the stage where I will have to push my learning to the next level by actively researching the balanced scorecard areas I am weak on.
On the one hand, it exceeds my expectations. I love the competitive side of it and am surprised by how much I have been looking forward to 5pm on a Monday when the round results are published. … On the other hand, now in Round 5, I am finding the competition a little artificial.
Yes in that it enables us to manage the model, albeit in a relatively simplistic manner. … For me it challenges my analytic abilities; there are nuances in each of the areas.
Overall it is what I expected but I would like to put more time into it to get more out of it. So far getting what I hoped out of it as well as some frustration.
A couple of the correspondents are as interested – or more interested – in the game as a simulation as they are in what it is simulating – the equivalent of wanting to understand how flight simulators work by poking around the video screens and checking how the platform tilts and rocks:
… obviously the game creators keep lots of variables hidden from us (I suppose with the idea of a proper replication of the market place). In this order of ideas, these variables in the end will influence the outcome: this is what I call luck. … … my mind is not so much on the market as it is on the psychology of the game creators … the issue here is that rules are rules and therefore independent of the uncertainties that really occur out there in the real world. Therefore there could be some predictability somehow. … I guess you can spend endless hours trying to work out predictive ratios and all the other paraphernalia but in my view it’s still down to the creators market psychology how things occur…
I remain unclear (yes we have all speculated, but it would be good to get something definitive from Timesonline or the game suppliers) of how the computer-generated competitors are programmed in order to keep the playing field even. eg. are all the decisions pre-determined, or do they respond to what I (as Andrews) decide to do? At this stage of the game, I am finding that I am so far ahead of the other players that they must have all been pre-programmed, which makes the game a little disappointing as it progresses.
How much time do you spend on it each week?
This is where I felt very stupid; I spend a good 4-6 hours on the damn thing each week, which may explain some of my frustrations. In comparison, after the first round, my respondents have been much swifter, spending 1 or 2 hours each week.
How do you make your decisions? Has your method changed as the rounds have progressed?
I usually take a look at the results right after they’re online at around 6pm every Monday. Within half an hour I’ve made a first assessment of the situation and of how to improve it in accordance with my strategy. However I let it rest for the week whilst pondering about my first impressions usually while in the shower. Then, on Sunday evening or Monday morning I implement my decisions and upload them.
Deciding on a strategy was surprisingly easy and surprisingly isn’t one suggested by the game tutorials. Initially my decisions were based on the tutorials, the last two rounds I have based my decisions heavily on the balanced scorecard predicted in the software.
I had a strategy and was sticking to it, then became obsessed with the scorecard in one round, disaster, I have gone back to my original strategy again, hopefully I can make up for lost ground.
Decision making has changed as time as gone on. Beginning is very much looking at strategy now moving into more execution and tactical approach for end of game.
… I was determined to try and hold the selling price and contributions high because I once did a sim where there were teams competing directly against each other and the tendency was for each team to discount the price – this meant that the winning team actually made less of a loss, not very satisfactory at all. I have now become very aware of the Balanced Scoresheet and that has altered my approach. … I have now got the numbers out into an excel sheet and analysing the market trend to the nth degree.
The interesting thing as well is at what point do we abandon any attempt at laying down a solid foundation for future rounds: i.e. will it matter that we just go gung-ho in rounds 7 and 8?
One correspondent gave a very full step-by-step answer. First they analyse the competition from the Fast Track reports, then they predict how many units of each product they are likely to sell. They loop round the production and marketing decisions until they are satisfied, and then look at R&D and capacity decisions for future rounds. For this correspondent, finance “is just a matter of working out HOW to finance what I have already decided to do”, though they admitted “In the early rounds, my cash flow was always hugely negative [but] I never changed my mind about doing something for fear of debt or whatever.”
Have the scores you are getting changed significantly over the course of the game so far?
My scores have improved, especially as my finance decisions have got better.
My scores steadily improved over the first few rounds. I am now finding it harder to improve them.
Not really, dreadfully average, except of course for the scorecard round fiasco 😐
42, 44, 46, 60 so probably not. Just solid around the same area. Like real life bad decisions come back to haunt.
Are you enjoying it?
Yes I am enjoying it, especially now the times have sorted out their league table.
Absolutely loving it.
Yes most definitely.
Yes although frustrated as I would like to commit more time to evaluate my results before next round of decisions.
Are there any other comments would you like to make about the game?
Comments clustered around the lack of a forum for players to compare notes, problems with the scoring and perceived failings in the reporting.
TRANSPARENCY in the scoring system!!!!!!?
I wish there was a forum where people could swap ideas about the game. Even a bit of banter between closely scored rivals would add to the game… but that wouldn’t really be in the spirit of open competition, or would it?
I have to comment on the running of the game. As others have commented, the Helpline are fantastic. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for whoever is responsible for the project overall. Some specific comments:
1. We are in Round 5 and the results tables are still not correct! …
2. The reporting has been very poor and lacking in insight. Times have really messed up here. They should have had a reporter playing the game (as you have done) and then commenting. To have someone gloss over the numbers and make random comments has simply exposed their lack of insight…
Just that the Times could have been a bit more pro-active in reporting on it; not sure what they wanted or have got out of the deal.
Good game. Obviously about fun and learning but it is easy to forget that and move into a more competitive mode. Ideally I would like to spend 6-8 hrs per week on it but do not have the time. I think it gives a taste of the breadth of the decision making that is required in running a business.
I’d like to thank those who took the time to answer my questions.
f you are playing the game and fancy answering the questions, or if I’ve quoted you and you fancy expanding on your answer, then please use the comments box. That’s what it’s for!
I’m away until Wednesday or Thursday, and will be frantically working on Round 7 when I get back, so you can have a free for all here while I’m away. 🙂