The elective course received the most unconventional course from IIM Lucknow last year
Nikhil Chandra, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow this year, was particularly excited about business simulation in his final semester for the simple reason that it involved board games, which he played with. his cousins when he was a child. . His was the first group to have a choice.
Instead of listening to lectures or watching PowerPoint presentations, which Nikhil did in most other courses, in business simulation he played Monopoly and other games. At the end of each class, Professor Mrityunjay Tiwary linked the games to the business topics that Nikhil and his group mates were learning.
Jellybean Singh, another student who took the elective, says: “Classes were probably six to seven hours long. But I never really complained about it because it was a lot of fun.
The elective course received the most unconventional course on campus last year.
Along with the fun and games, there is also a lot of hands-on learning, Jellybean says. “We have case studies, we have an internship [in our curriculum]. But if you’re talking about applying the concepts we’re learning, that’s what comes closest to a practical topic. “
Mrityunjay, during his doctoral days at IIM Bangalore six years ago, was more of an outdoor athlete. His friends, however, were board game enthusiasts. “At repeated requests, I joined one of the board game gatherings in Bangalore,” he says. “Then I used to hang out with my friends when they were playing. Gradually, I got interested.
The idea of using board games to teach, however, came to him just two years ago after playing with his friends. “We usually talk about the game for a minute or two – about our mistakes and stuff. So, I just realized that I was talking about some of the concepts that I studied in the management curriculum and that’s when it occurred to me to retro-ingest this experience and design a course that uses board games to simulate the application of management concepts. “
Mrityunjay spent a year and a half preparing for the course. It wasn’t easy, he said. “These games are made for fun. But here the goal is to learn. So I had to change the rules of these games and introduce variations. With volunteers, he conducted numerous trials before launching the course.
There were also logistical challenges. The games are generally designed for four or five people. But Mrityunjay’s classes numbered 25 to 60 students. So he had to change the single player games into team games. “It also brought a team dynamic to the course. I could see it made a significant difference; the teams lost because of their internal fights, ”he explains.
What about convincing management?
“They liked the concept. They approved the budget to get the games and a few other accessories that I needed. But this course also needed a little freedom from our regulations. For example, a standard lesson length is one and a half hours. And, a game takes about four hours. And, the game should be played in one stretch. The maximum that was allowed to me was three hours. But after the first year of class has gone well, management has given four and a half hours, so there is plenty of time for a game followed by a discussion.
With the exception of Monopoly, Mrityunjay does not disclose the games he uses for teaching. “I want the novelty of the course to be preserved,” he says. But here’s how it works: The class is divided into groups. Each group has a CEO. The games are complex enough that the CEO can’t keep up with everything. So there is a division of tasks. And, every move is made after a discussion.
“These sessions don’t teach them new concepts,” Mrityunjay explains, “on the contrary, it helps them apply the concepts they learned in this simulated situation.” This is why the elective course is only available in the last semester of the course.
“Students can make business decisions and see their impact. For example, they may have studied different theoretical compromises from one course to another. It’s one thing to know the trade-offs, but they also learn about the costs of a mistake or the benefits of a better decision, ”explains the professor.
As the COVID situation in India worsens, institutions may need to continue teaching online for most of this year. Mrityunjay’s business simulation, however, cannot be taught online. “It is important to see the props, to discuss freely with your teammates and the opposition… All of this will not be possible online,” he said.
“Fortunately, this course is only offered in December, January and February. Hope we will be in better shape by then.