Digital Transformation » Systems & Software » It’s only a game …

It's only a game ...

But that didn't stop 90 teams from spending six months running afurniture factory that didn't actually exist.

A team of managers from Scottish building services group E Steil & Co swept the board at the Bradford Management Centre’s Venture 97 management game, beating five other teams in the finals to win #10,000 worth of Hewlett-Packard computer equipment.

They impressed the judges – acting as a firm of venture capitalists considering investing in their company – with what the Americans call B-Hags: their big, hairy audacious goals.

Some 90 teams had spent the previous six months “running” office furniture manufacturing companies, making “board” decisions every fortnight on pricing and volume strategy, acquisitions, expansion into Europe, marketing, dividends and balance sheet gearing.

Their decisions were fed into a computer which then returned the results.

Teams also had to make decisions on more entertaining matters such as a hostage-taking, a staff toy-boy love crisis and a factory fire. The teams’ task was made even more difficult because they were never actually told what criteria would be used to determine the six finalists.

But the team from E Steil stole the show with their ambitious plans to spend #150m on acquisitions and another #50m on R&D to develop office furniture for the 21st century. (One judge commented: “How do you spend #50m on R&D for a desk?”)

The “investors”, however, were impressed by the way the members worked as a team, the fact that they knew what they wanted from their investors over and above pure cash and, above all, their courageous ambition.

The judges concluded: “Is this a team that we, as investors, would be continually having to rein in? Probably. But we as growth-investors would prefer that to having to continually prod them into doing something interesting.”

Team member Peter Mackinnon said: “We found the game very interesting.

We’re very much an open and dynamic company at Steil, but we learned about how each other ticked and how to present a case to each other.”

They are currently looking for a small local charity that would benefit from their prize from Hewlett-Packard.

Second place went to a team of accountant from BT, who impressed the judges with their incredible grasp of every single number at their disposal.

Their plans for a series of global alliances captivated the judging “investors”, but appeared to be a little too blue-chip (“borrowed from British Airways”) for a venture capital game.

Third place winners were a team from Nippon Glass Fibre, formerly a Pilkington subsidiary. Their presentation was so convincing the judges felt this team knew every single lathe, corner and broom cupboard of their fantasy furniture factory.

The other three finalists (in no particular order) demonstrated a wide range of divergent talents. The team from Loxley’s Print Ltd put across some visionary theories about how outsourcing and hot-desking would impact on the office furniture manufacturer of the future.

The team from pensions and actuarial consultants Bacon & Woodrow had their balance sheet groaning with cash but, with little taste for grandiose expansion plans, left the “venturers” wondering, “Why are we here?”

A team of local businessmen and farmers under the ACS Scutt & Son banner put together a very slick presentation, a bold takeover target and a thoroughly documented business plan. But the judges felt the team too reliant on too few team members, and their flat management structure made them less flexible to react to unexpected business developments. They could do worse than read our venture capital feature on page 39 …

Bradford Management Centre’s Venture 97 was sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, Royal Mail, Barclays Commercial Services and Financial Director.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to get your daily business insights