Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble — these are what most people think of when someone mentions board games. But some learning leaders have found value in more complex board games designed to improve players’ business acumen.
Global energy management specialist Schneider Electric successfully used a simulation to deliver financial information after competency reviews revealed employee proficiency gaps. Feedback regarding the company’s financial training programs also was poor. Many employees found the sessions boring and the topic too complex.
The Income/Outcome Business Simulation — a multi-board game developed by Andromeda Training where each team manages its own game board and competes against other teams to win customers, improve operations and generate positive financial results — uses tactile and kinetic learning methodologies to teach the foundations of finance and fundamental business dynamics.
“We use it to teach finance to non-financial managers,” said Tim Treger, senior manager of learning and development at Schneider Electric. “It takes a very dry topic and makes it more real to life by helping people understand the true implications of the financial decisions they make.”
Since 2007, 240 employees have participated.
George Fajardo, director of human resources at electrical product manufacturer Hubbell Inc., also identified a need to develop his employees’ business expertise. Fajardo initiated the simulation in 2010, and in the past year, 80 employees have been trained.
“You want everyone in your organization moving in the same direction to optimize profitability and manage the investment dollars. That’s what you get out of this program, very simply and quickly,” said Joy Moyer, director of brand management for the Hubbell outdoor and industrial brand and one of the co-trainers for the course.
The simulation also helps participants to understand market dynamics. “Many employees didn’t understand the P&L statement until they participated in the game,” Moyer said. “Now, profitability is improving for almost all of the brands where personnel have attended the training.”
Flooring systems company Dur-A-Flex incorporated the simulation into its work environment. During lunchtime, the company holds Dur-A-Flex University, a series of 10-week courses on subjects such as marketing or accounting and electives such as fly fishing.
Ed Cullen, chief financial officer, was tasked with teaching the course on accounting and finance. He taught the first course using Excel spreadsheets and said he saw a lot of glassy eyes. When it was time to present the course again, Cullen used the simulation.
Between October and December 2010, he taught the lunchtime course to 30 employees, and he said this time there were no glassy eyes. Further, the owner of the company competed on one of the teams and endorsed the simulation game’s value as a learning tool. “There was great interaction weekly,” Cullen said. “We all learn better when we are having fun and participating instead of just sitting back and listening to somebody talk.”
Eliza Helweg-Larsen is owner and chief creative officer at Andromeda Training Inc. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.