Monday, March 15, 2010

Simulations for success

The latest post in our continuing series Meet Our Current Students:

In recent weeks, there have been simulations going on in Wisconsin MBA classrooms.

The Littlefield Technologies simulation in the Operations Management class allows student teams to run a factory of their own and compete with each other on revenues. The student teams need to decide on the numbers of machines at each station, in what priority orders are processed and various other issues. It's easy to get addicted to checking the ongoing ranking changes in the competition. The first phase of the simulation was just completed. Students are reviewing, in addition to their respective rankings, what they did well and what they didn’t. They are hoping to apply this learning to the second, more complex phase of the competition.

The Manager’s Workshop simulation was run on a CD developed by Professor Randall Dunham, instructor of the Managing Behavior in Organizations class. In this simulation, students act as managers, and the objective is to help five employees whose job performances are lower than expected. You need to interact with these hypothetical figures, identify what the causes of the low performance are, and make choices on how to solve the problems. Progress will be made if you handle the situations well. If you don’t, some responses from the employees can even be hostile.

These simulations are of tremendous value. They provide opportunities for us to put a step towards the real world where strategy is not "simulated" and missteps can be costly.

Kan Zuo is a first year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Originally from China, he completed his undergraduate education at Beloit College in 2006 with a double major in Economics and Management and International Relations. As an undergraduate, he interned with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

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