A business game that breathes the delaware culture

Mar 19, 2014

Don’t you miss sleeping until noon, attending classes with your friends, being spoiled at Hotel Mama during the exams, etc.? Last year, I did a backpacking trip in Norway with my colleague Simon. On one particular evening, we were sitting in front of our tent with a glass of wine in our hands and we were thinking back to how great it was being a student. We also thought about all the things we would do differently if we could do it all over again. One of these things was our quest for a job. 

We had started our job search totally random, on a job fair, going to the companies with the prettiest logos that offered the nicest gadgets. We started going to job interviews and when delaware offered us a contract, we were thrilled to say yes. But what was this decision based on? Two and a half years later I am very happy that I like my job, my company and my colleagues, but I guess for many others this is not always the case. That is when we started thinking what we could do about this. How could we let students get a taste of their future job, company and colleagues? Two weeks later, we started working on the delaware Game of Operational Excellence.

Now, seven months and a lot of hard work later, the first edition of the delaware Game of Operational Excellence is finished. We have created a business game that is unique in its kind. It is an operational business game that aligns business and IT and that lets students get a glimpse of SAP and the life of a functional consultant.
On Friday, team “KRACK Solutions” convinced the judges with their final presentation and was rewarded with a city trip. But did the students only participate to battle for this prize? And why would a company invest in a business game for students?

Importance for students

We designed the business game in such way that it would be both fun and interesting to participate. We always kept the younger version of ourselves in mind as a target audience and tried to answer the questions we had been facing in our master years.

The assignments evolved from designing a business and operational strategy for an imaginary (but realistic) company towards doing the production planning during a simulation afternoon. In this simulation, the students had to take into account the decisions they had taken earlier concerning the number of machines, the chosen vendors, their strategy and so on. Therefore, the game entails both abstract thinking as well as a hands-on business simulation.

The primary goal of the business game was to offer the students the opportunity to gain some business insights, to take off their academic glasses and to put on their – new – business glasses. The assignments were not very detailed which gave the students a high degree of freedom and creativity in the solution they created. The complexity forced them to make pragmatic, realistic decisions as no optimal, theoretical solution was possible. One of the most important criteria in this game was the consistency during the different assignments and how the solutions were presented. We asked for creative, visual solutions, rather than plain texts and numbers.

Next to giving the students some practical knowledge, we wanted to introduce them to a job as functional SAP consultant. When Simon and I arrived at delaware on our first day, we didn’t know what a consultant did. We had no idea how this SAP-thing would look like, what it could do and why everybody made such a fuss about it. Therefore we introduced each team of students as a team of consultants, advising an imaginary company with a realistic problem to be solved. They had to work together as a team, sometimes under high pressure. During the two-hour business simulation, the students had to make a production plan in the SAP graphical planning board, with the help of a coach. This gave them the opportunity to take their first steps in SAP, to give them an idea what the possibilities were and how this was linked to their education and the previous assignments. By being in our offices and by interacting with their coaches and talking to some employees, the students could also form an image of the delaware company culture, which is not possible to such an extent by talking 5 minutes on a job fair.

Importance for delaware

The advantages for students were clear from the beginning as they were the business game’s reason for existence. But why would delaware invest time and resources in such a business game? There is only one answer: because students are the future. We receive a lot of requests for internships, which indicates that a lot of students are searching for some practical experience that complements their academic knowledge. The business game offers an alternative for such an internship.

On top of that, we can state that this business game breathes our company’s culture. It reinforces the image of delaware as a firm that invests in the youth, which stimulates entrepreneurship and team spirit.

The making and realization of the game

When Simon and I presented our idea to our CEO, we got his full support from the first minute. With the help of many colleagues, we have organized a great promotion campaign, including a business game logo, flyer and poster. We had a subscription form on our website and a Facebook event on our company account. We had some junior colleagues that were willing to simulate the business game together with us and to provide us with much appreciated feedback. And we had 9 coaches, advising the students during the simulation afternoon. On top we received a budget to organize some nice events for the students, with the grand finale last Friday as the cherry on the cake. You can check the pictures of our finale on our Facebook page.

A big thanks to everybody that supported our idea, that contributed to this business game and a special thank you to all the participants that have surprised us with creative, original solutions. We can now be quite sure that the next generation is ready to kick in. See you all next year on our second edition?

  • Alexander Naessens. You can follow Alexander on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn
  • Simon Nuttin. You can follow Simon on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn
From business game to real life