Jun 25, 2010

The Reality TV Show

I'm back from New York. I passed my reality TV show - not with flying colours, but I passed, and that's that. So I guess I'm on track for promotion early next year.

One really interesting thing we did was a complex business simulation exercise. The course participants were broken up into six groups. Each group was supposed to be one company.

At the beginning of the game, each company has exactly the same balance sheet, sells the products and owns the same kind of factory equipment. Each group then has to make a set of decisions, on issues like how much to invest in R&D; how much to spend on employee training; how many employees to hire or fire; whether to purchase new industrial equipment or not; and what price to set for the products.

At the end of each round, each team's decisions are entered into a complex computer model. Decisions made by any one team influence the result of all other teams, because the parameters of the game are that all six companies are operasting in the same market.

The model then spits out a detailed set of results, which are publicly announced. These include results such as which team gained the most market share; which team wins an award for "Best Factory"; which team produced goods with the highest quality; at what price each team sold its products etc etc.

Then there is a set of confidential results for each company, detailing its financial performance in that particular round, and also details about its inventory holdings, and its productivity ratios.

The objective of the simulation exercise is to see which team can generate the highest retained earnings, over seven rounds.

The game is quite complex, and takes into account a wide range of factors such as the depreciation of assets over time; the life cycle of the factory machines; fluctuations in market demand; and changes in interest rates. The teams also have options to do things like borrow money from the bank.

Each team can also carry out quality improvement projects; engage external consultants; purchase market forecast reports etc. Each of these decisions come with a price, of course, and each company has a limited amount of money.

The game ran over a period of one and a half days.

Anyway, I was the CEO of my team and we won - yes, we were No. 1, making 67.1 million dollars over seven game periods.

You can think of the game as a very complicated kind of Monopoly.

The other interesting feature of the game is that each team had a psychologist sitting in the room of each team. The psychologist was there to observe each participant in the team.

This part of the exercise was to focus on intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. After the game, each participant gets to discuss his own performance with the psychologist, who will comment on the participant's observed behaviour.

Each participant also receives a grade, on a very broad set of different criteria, such as whether he was collaborative; whether he communicated clearly; whether he was confident etc.

Although I was the CEO of the winning team, I only got an average score as CEO. The psychologist said that my weakness, under time pressure, was in commanding and persuading my team members, whenever I had to articulate an innovative strategy or complex idea.

I was also criticised for being poor in delegating. I personally over-focused on details, when as CEO I should be splitting up the tasks more, and getting my team members to do the analysis.

Innovation and far-sightedness were noted, as my key strengths. In Round 2, when my team members were mostly thinking about Round 2, I was already strategising and planning ahead for Rounds 5 to 7.


ike said...

just wondering if the reason for your weakness as mentioned was due to your foreign accent and the general stereotype of a singaporean being not very articulate was the first thing i thought of.

Mr Wang Says So said...

No, it's not that kind of problem.

My problem was more fully described in another psychological test (McCann Magerison) that I took, as part of the course.


1. I think faster and further than most people

2. I develop my ideas too independently

3. So when I tell other people about my idea, they may feel surprised; startled; suspicious; unhappy; unconvinced.

In the McCann-Magerison model, I am marked out as a rare personality type, because I have an odd combination of traits. I am simultaneously very action-oriented, and very creative.

It frightens people, because not only do I easily generate innovative ideas, but I actually seek to execute them (and I also push other people to execute them).

I was advised to constantly involve people in the development of my ideas; and not just develop the ideas on my own, and then spring them on other people.

That way, people will feel like they were part of the process, and will be more willing to accept the ideas.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, you are a talent! You should take over the running of Temasick and GIC and kick out all those useless foreign "talents" who talk more than they work.

veii said...

I guess it looks like ordinary leadership is not quite your forte. However, it would also appear that you'd make a great ideas man - the guy that the team makes use of to do the research, compile and analyse the collected findings / data and then neatly produce a report to summarize and present the project. But not quite lead, or judge, weigh in and decide.

There is a more advanced version of the Monopoly board game which resembles this game. Unlike the traditional version, you can build hazards (sewage plants, prisons) on other players' properties to reduce the value of their assets, or force them to pay a large sum to the bank in order to remove the hazard. My nephew loves it but I do not have the patience to play along, unfortunately.

Mr Wang Says So said...

At the end of the McCann Egerison test, I received a 25(!) page report on myself.

The report covers my strengths and weaknesses in great detail, but here are some of the relevant excerpts (appearing in different parts of the report) concerning the point I mentioned. You can detect the recurrent theme, I'm sure:

"When you do present your thoughts to colleagues, they may sometimes be surprised at how advanced your thinking is. A problem can arise in this situation as usually you will be in your Thruster-Organiser role, trying to explain your proposals and get action at the same time. Remember that nobody likes surprises and if you were to share your thinking with other team members as it evolves, you may get better co-operation and, in the long run, your udeas or pojects will be effected more efficiently."

"You can build an effective team provided that you take time to keep people informed on a regular basis. Your ideas are your strong point. People need you to talk these through with them so they can understand where you are going and implement your schemes. Team-building designed to achieve this can produce dividends. It is also vital that you have the support of people who can build on and follow through on your initiatives."

"Leadership to you is getting things done. At times, you may commit to action before everyone is ready. You will then possibly find yourself out in front without sufficient support from others, who you will see as lagging reluctantly behind.

You may wonder at times why you are surrounded by so many people who continually need to be directed and motivaterd. You move at an urgent pace which is not shared by others of different Ptofiles who have different motivations and interests."

"If you can take time and have the patience to enable others to understand your ideas and keep up with your pace, then you will develop an effective leadership pattern."

"At times you will face resistance from others. This is mainly because your ideas can sometimes come as a surprise to your colleagues, if you have not shred with them your thinking as it evolves .... On such occasions, colleagues may feel that they have been presented with an innovation or procedure that has been well worked out, planned and organised, but with little advance warning. You may well prefer to keep such plans to yourself until you are completely happy, but then you will expect others to move quickly and implement them.

From your point of view, your proposals have been well thought out and are self-explanatory. YOu have usually spent a long time thinking about the issued and perfecting your plan. YOu find it hard to accept that people can reject this thinking on the spur of the moment. Experieneced Thruster-Organisers however would have learned to involve people at an early stage and have discovered how to use the skills of listening and consulting to get involvement and commitment."

Eaststopper said...

Was the simulation game the core part of the whole assessment? Appears to me that character and psychological analysis of the participants was the main objective.
Did anyone from the losing team 'fail' the whole exercise?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a true INTJ Mr. Wang!

Mr Wang Says So said...

For assessment purposes, there are two components -

the first is for the group's actual performance in the game (the group is not evaluated purely on its ultimate ranking, but also on a presentation at the end, whereby you have to present and explain the group's strategy, decisions etc)

the second is on an individual basis. Each individual gets a score or a range of criteria such as how well he "leads others"; "manages others"; "collaborates"; "analyses, judges and makes decisions" ... Other criteria include "self-awareness and emotional intelligence"; "self-management * flexibility"; "accountability & results focus" etc.

Yes, my evaluation was very INTJ .... For both the strengths and the weaknesses.

lobo76 said...

Did you type out the parts of the report yourself? I was wondering who made the obvious spelling mistakes. My thinking is that the mistakes were made intentionally by the psychology group, so that if people should plagiarize their ‘conclusions’, they can easily find out by looking at the ‘mistakes’. hehehe

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yeah, I typed it out myself, from the report ....

Anonymous said...

case in point - Steve Jobs Super CEO - crap Boss :)

Denzuko1 said...

I kind of played this game before during my university years during 1992, we were selling boilers. However, the part on psychological analysis was left out. Kind of fun for a 3 days event.

We have a mix of Asians and Caucasians, its pretty interesting then that the caucasians are all outspoken while the Asians are more reserved. So the performance of Caucasians outweigh the Asians.

Btw, were you also made to go through an "exhibition" to sell your products to a group of "prospectors"?