Global medical devices company takes own medicine with Sim-based Leadership Development

Case Study by Ken Thompson

Background to the Customer:

The customer is a multinational medical equipment manufacturing company selling its products in nearly 100 countries on the back of a long and distinguished company history and a reputation for innovation and customer service in a market which is highly competitive and regulated.

Customer Needs

To maintain its position as an industry leader the company focussed on leadership development and commissioned our partner Lane4 to design and deliver two multi-session leadership development programmes for groups of mangers in both the UK and in China. The first programme was to be designed for experienced managers and the second one for new managers. Both programmes culminated in a day long “Global Business Simulation” to enhance the manager’s business acumen, collaboration and team-working skills. 

The Solution

The company commissioned a custom business simulation based on our PHARMER Business Simulation Blueprint.

PHARMER allows teams to manage Sales, Market Shares and Profits for a representative portfolio of company products across different markets for 4 periods which can be quarters, years or longer all of which takes place in a single day!

Core features include Organisational Decisions such as Corporate Branding and Marketing plus Product-in-Market Decisions such as Price Elasticity and Supply & Demand Balancing. PHARMER was customised with particular features of importance to the customer such as:

  • Different Product sensitivities to Price Changes depending on their market position and maturity
  • Different market dynamics e.g. Large, Low Growth Markets versus Small, High Growth Markets
  • The importance of Customer Service Levels and the large consequences of even small loss of service in terms of customer impact
  • Market-facing activities such as Clinician Awareness and Sales Force Development
  • Key manufacturing initiatives such as Lean to manage costs and quality
  • Focus on the importance of stock management and the impact of overstocks and understocks
  • Market Updates at the start of each round covering key market activity such as competitor price campaigns
  • Global Updates covering relevant economic factors, government policies and industry regulatory changes


Participant Feedback

Below are some direct quotes from the company managers about what they learned from the simulations:

  • Having a good strategy and sticking to it really helps especially when all the market updates come in…..
  • At the start we did not work like a team and our first quarter results showed it - but we took in on board and in the end we did really well…..
  • The sim really showed up that if you operate in silos then you won’t get the results you could have achieved
  • The whole manufacturing and stock management piece is now much clearer– you don’t always see the impact of this on the customer when you have a Sales & Marketing hat on
  • You need to watch your bottom-line at all times – profit is always key and sometimes you may have to sacrifice market share to achieve it
  • We learned the importance of always checking how you are doing on all your KPIs before you hit the big red button
  • The sim really emphasised the severe consequences of not meeting the customer’s order “on-time and in-full”

Overall Conclusions and Value

We asked our Sponsor for their feedback at the end of the two all-day simulation sessions: “The simulation proved to be highly immersive and engaging so people soon forgot they were just simulations. I was really pleased not just with the insights the participants took away but also the quality and the honesty of the conversations they had with each other about our complex business and how they could work better in teams and between departments. It has been a very valuable experience which we will continue to use in future leadership development programmes”. 

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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 Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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