Business Simulations to Enhance Project Management Skills

Article by Ken Thompson, 25 Feb 2021

“Operations keeps the lights on, Strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but Project Management is the train engine that moves the Organization forward.”
Joy Gunz

There are 5 key skills which a project manager needs to master if they are to succeed in today’s challenging multi-stakeholder and dynamic projects environment

  1. Stakeholder Management
  2. Change Management
  3. Team Management
  4. Work Management 
  5. Agile Project Management

In this short article we will explore the key aspects of each skill. We will then conclude by introducing 3 interactive business simulations which can help these skills be acquired and deepened experientially, effectively and quickly!


Stakeholder Management

This is about managing all the different “stakeholders” necessary for the project to succeed. The UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) defines “stakeholders” as “individuals or organizations who are invested in a particular project and who are affected by this project in some way, and also their input has a direct impact on the project’s upshot.”

In simpler terms anyone who can impact or be impacted by your project is a potential stakeholder!

This is one of the many factors which makes project management so difficult - identifying and managing the most important stakeholders because there will be far too many to manage them all!

24 jobs! The Challenge of Project Management today
Figure 1: 24 jobs! The Challenge of Project Management today


Change Management

This involves developing and executing a credible change plan to provide the necessary support for whatever the project is building or designing or modifying.

Change Management and Project Management go together like trains and tracks or cars and drivers – it just does not work unless you have both components.

We might argue about the precise sequence and the preferred names however a credible change plan needs to cover at least the following 16 aspects:

Essential aspects of a Change Management Plan
Figure 2 – Essential aspects of a Change Management Plan


Team Management

This is about looking after the project team both as a whole and as individuals.

The diagram below summarises the key aspects of Team and Work Management:

The 7 habits of highly effective team leaders
Figure 3 – The 7 habits of highly effective team leaders


Work Management

Making sure the right people are allocated to the right task and are progressing it to schedule and customer satisfaction.

Remember with the right person on the right task everything is possible but with the wrong person on the wrong task nothing is possible.

Work should be appropriate to a person’s skill level – think Goldilocks – not too difficult or too easy for them – it needs to be just right. It should be difficult enough to stretch and develop them but easy enough for them to be successful.

Also a good project manager will manage the intensity of the work to keep their colleagues safe from the twin perils of burnout and boredom!


Agile Project Management

Finally good project managers make sure that the project is being delivered in an agile responsive manner. How often have you been on the receiving end of “project targets, deliverables and outputs” instead of “project outcomes, benefits and transformations”?

By that we mean

Four Key Agile Values
Figure 4 : Four Key Agile Values (Agilemanifesto.org)


Business Simulation are an efficient, effective and engaging way to develop project management skills 

We offer a set of 3 complementary team-based business simulations to help develop world class project management skills quickly and experientially under the guidance of an expert facilitator. 

Each simulation lasts 4 hours (with a mid-point break) and is typically played by 3-6 teams, with 4-5 participants per team. 

The  simulations can be delivered  face-to-face or totally virtually or a hybrid of the two. 

The simulations can also be played synchronously (all at the same time) or asynchronous (all at their own chosen times). 

The set of three simulations we recommend for project management are:

COHORT 

Focus: Stakeholder and Change Management (skills 1 and 2)

Summary: A  Change Management Simulation which develops influencing skills and understanding of organizational and reputational power as you try to win the support of key stakeholders essential to the success of your major change project.

Simulation Screenshot

CREW

Focus: Team and Work Management (skills 3 and 4)

Summary: A Team Management Simulation which develops team leadership and project scheduling skills as you allocate work to your team whilst you also manage constant people and team challenges including staff capabilities, motivations and other issues.

Simulation Screenshot

SPREAD

Focus: Agile Project Management (skill 5)

Summary: A configurable Project Management simulation which allows you to simulate any kind of project (build, adoption or hybrid). The off-the-shelf example (APDL) is an Agile Product Development and Launch of a fast-moving consumer product which combines both product build and project management scenarios.

Simulation Screenshot

Want to know more about our Project Management Simulations?

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More about Ken Thompson

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 Managing Director of Business Simulations Ltd.

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