Organization Behaviour in Action
Professor Miles employs action-based learning simulation to drive outcomes
Telfer Executive MBA is a strong proponent of action learning through our Signature Series of Six Business Consulting Projects. Teams of candidates work as consultants for real client organizations in these six different projects where they address real business opportunities and challenges. Candidates focus on applying their new toolbox of skills and frameworks, using their relatively safe learning environment and professor supervision, to ensure that they achieve an appropriate approach and learning outcomes.
Not every course in the Program can offer the opportunity to actively consult with client organizations given the timeline of the program. In these cases professors turn to other action learning tools such as business simulations, case studies, and team-based learning exercises.
Business simulations are often a micro-version of the actual business environment, but Professor Mike Miles goes one step further using a unique scenario that is high-energy and fun, pulling candidates away from the ‘office’ environment. He utilizes a simulation that has individual teams of candidates vicariously experience a 20 day-adventure in the wilderness where the teams must travel to different locations to gather a formula to cure a mysterious virus and save Canada before time runs out.
The ‘days’ in this simulation however are only three minutes long and during this time candidates must map out their coordinates on a team and class map, identify and avoid daily moving obstacles that can delay their travels, develop a strategy that may include flying an airplane to gain more ground, and collect a piece of the formula from various locations. Three minute later, the signal goes for another day and they repeat.
This intense environment, although filled with a large list of tasks that they must complete each day, is filled with fun as well. Candidates must shout their team slogan before leaving their case room to gather information, rush through the facility to collect data at the trading post, purchase equipment to aid in their travels or to ward off other teams, and fly an airplane across a finish line to move forward, all while commiserating with each other that this is all in an afternoon’s work.
While this simulation challenges perceptions of a traditional Executive MBA learning environment, there are many significant take-aways from this short simulation that leverage learnings related to organization behaviour and understandings of how high performance organizations work. While we could list the take-aways but this would detrack from next year's cohort simulation experience of uncovering these revelations for themselves.
Candidates complete a self-reflection paper following the simulation that summarize how they responded to the simulation and how they can improve their ability to function has a results-oriented team.