Edit 515 - Simulation Designers

Virtual business environments

Why use Business Simulations designed by Edit 515?

There is now a multitude of Management, or Business, Simulations, or Games, generally available to organisations (a quick Google search will confirm this). It has become a very daunting prospect, for any training manager, to select the correct simulation model that will satisfy the organisation's training objectives. It is not Edit 515's wish to denegrate any competitor's simuation models - indeed many may well be ideally suited for an organisation's purposes. Many competitor's simulation models are well established and successful and are appreciated because they do what it promises on the 'blurb'. But, there are many simulations models that are very superficial and even artificial in the way that they simulate the environment that they are supposed to be modelling. So what is unique about simulation models designed and created by Edit 515 Limited?.

There is one very obvious criterion that defines both reliability and quality - and that is longevity. The 4 founders of Edit 515 back in 1970 are the same Directors in 2015 - that is 45 years of continuous success in designing, updating and operating management simulations, both for organisational (business and academia) training (such as Topaz-Vbe and Emerald-Vbe) and international competitions (such as the Global Management Challenge). Many companies expressed peculiar requirements resulting in bespoke simulations being designed.

Realism versus detail is another area where many simulation models fail. There is no point in repetitive decisions if all it does is add complexity but not unique problems. For example, multiple decisions on Price and Advertising for mutiple products simply repeat over and over the lessons associated with price sensitivity. Rather a few decisions involving price and advertising and the availability of production resources not only allows the problem of price sensitivity to be addressed but also introduces the challenging problem of optimality and sub-optimality in decision making. Simulation complexity should be a function of the interaction between disparate parts of an organisation rather than volume of similar structured decisions.

Realism in designing simulation models is of paramount importance, but it must be designed in such a way as to allow the larger important corporate objectives not to be obscured by excessive detail. By concentrating on what is important, the simulation model should be complex enough to permit the use of mathematical analysis but at the same time be intuative enough that entrepreneurial decision making can compete effectively. This balance is so difficult to achieve, but it is one of the main reasons why Edit 515 simulation models have been so successful over decades. The Global Management Challenge simulation model (albeit through numerous incarnations) has continued as the world's foremost Management Training Competition for over 30 years.

Multi-layered design is also extremely important, as this adds to the realism of the simulation model. What does multi-latered design imply? It means that decisions taken in one area of the simulated company don't just affect that area but at increasingly deeper levels may also have some effect on other apparently unrelated areas of the company. Receruiting sales personnel clearly affects the ability of the company to sell it products (that is direct consequences). But in real-life that recruitment can have lesser consequences on other aspects of the company's activities (such as absenteeism, or level of overtime working affecting the ability to retain existing staff, or on production's ability to fulfill the orders generated affecting the companies reputaion for delivering on time, and so on). This multi-layered design philosophy adds considerably to the complexity of the simulation model without adding any additional decisions. Thus, analysis is concentrated on the diverse effect of the consequences of the decisions being made rather than the simpler effect of multiple versions of similar decisions.

The training of managers in specific tasks using simulations present specific challenges for the designers of the simulation model. It is more important that managers be exposed to challenging scenarios and problems that accurately reflect the situations that they may/will actually encounter in practice. There is no need for these simulations to be interactive and each manager is therefore free to assess the situations presented and make tactical and strategic decisions that enhances their skills through experiential learning. Generally, there is no need for competitive interation between participants. When working independently, it is only natual for managers, while improving their skill levels, to compare their performance against the performance of others using the same simulation model. It is, therefore, important that the design of these simulations should be 'fair' in that the final result should reflect the skill level of the participating manager and not simply be dominated by the use of random number generators.

Most training simulations, however, do involve significant interaction between and among the decisions made by paticipants. A well designed simulation model frequently involves an element of competition and in such circumstances it is essential that the designers ensure 'fairness'. Thus, the use of random number generators should be minimised. In Edit 515 management simulations, virtually all the variability in the simulation is the direct result of the decisions made by the competing decision makers. Also, decisions should not be un-reasonably constrained - a well designed simulation model should automatically handle all decisions, even bizarre ones. However, many simulation models, in addition to all the participant's decisions, also require the controller to submit control values to ensure that the simulation model's results remain 'sensible'. Some simulations, when participant's decisions are submitted, must have these 'mollified' by adjusting the simulation model's parameters to ensure that the results remains viable. This is not the case with simulations designed by Edit 515 because they make use of very sophisticated functions that ensures that external intervention is never required no matter how bizarre some participant's decisions may be.