Exciting new Agile Product Development / Project Management Simulation launched

Article by Ken Thompson, last updated December 2020

Photo by Campaign Creators

This simulation, built using the SPREAD simulation engine, supports immersive, experiential, team-based learning around Agile product development and launch and is highly relevant to organisations wishing to develop their leadership skills in key areas including new product development, product launch, new venture incubation and business start-up scenarios.


In the simulation your team are the responsible for the launch of an exciting new food snack in a national consumer market. In keeping with Agile principles, you have a minimally viable prototype (MVP) and just 12 months get a successful product built, trialled, refined and earning revenue in a competitive market. 

Each month you must select the right activities in the right sequence and manner to develop a product which is not only right for your target consumers but also addresses the concerns of key stakeholders including regulatory bodies and channel partners. 

You are also responsible for the market research and promotion activities required for the successful launch of your product. 


1. Sophisticated Project Task Management

The simulation offers a (configurable) list of project activities which participants can choose from to execute the project. This list Includes optimum, non-optimum and undesirable activities so that participants can learn from making poor choices. Each activity can impact the project in a different way including organizational readiness, community leadership, adoption or product fitness. 

Project Activities can be once-off or repeatable and can also depend on other activities. Dependencies can be “hard” or “soft”. Hard dependencies stop you selecting the dependent task, whilst soft dependencies allow participants to run a dependent task but with its performance degraded. Like non-optimum and undesirable activities, soft dependencies allow participants to learn by making poor choices. 

2. Regular electronic news updates 

Participants will receive regular news updates during the simulation. These are delivered electronically via a simulated e-mail inbox. These updates are synchronised with the settings in the simulation. For example news of a key team member leaving will also cause a drop in organizational readiness. 

3. Project Planning Tools

In the initial phase of the simulation teams can plan out the sequence of how they propose to execute the project tasks using a drag and drop interface within the simulation. Participants are also encouraged to conduct a Project Risk Assessment using a built-in risk analysis tool. 

4. Integrated Role Plays

To make things even more realistic at key stages in the simulation role plays can be conducted with participants. For example, meetings with Key Opinion Leaders, Channel Partners or Consumer Panels. These role plays can be scored and their results integrated into the simulation. 

5. Realistic Management of Risks

The simulation includes a schedule of potential “risk events” and when each will be triggered (unless mitigated first). Certain project activities mitigate against each of these risks (as well as the activity’s other project impacts)  There may be one project activity mitigating or partly mitigating more than one risk. An activity’s mitigating effect can also be expired so the activity needs repeated for its mitigating effect to become active again. 

There can be risks which requires more than one activity to mitigate it. (Thus there can be a many-many relationship between risks and project activities – just like the real world). If the appropriate risk mitigating activities have not been selected before the risk event schedule is reached then the risk will occur. Its impact will be felt in the project and the participants will be notified that the risk has occurred, why and with what impact.

6. Comprehensive Budget Management 

Budgets can represent resources or finances and can be per period or for the whole simulation or both. Budgets can be “enforced” meaning participants cannot continue if exhausted until they have been replenished (via running the required simulation task) or they can be “advisory” which means participants may continue but with their negative budget state reported. 

7. Real-Time Leaderboard

Each team’s results are summarised on a real-time leaderboard which can be shared with the participants at regular intervals to increase the excitement and sense of competition during a simulation. 


In the screenshot from the simulation below note the list of allowed project activities on the left side of the screen, the various score on the gauges, the adoption ladder and the pop-up window, from the optional electronic facilitator, advising that the participants have missed the opportunity to mitigate a risk which has now occurred and impacted their project.

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Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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