20 December 2019

Not even in my craziest dreams would I have imagined that for my Organisational Behaviour class, the first assignment would be to team up with a random bunch of people I had just met—now my dearest friends and fellow classmates—and plan the strategy to produce greeting cards.
Production Game - Image of Christmas greeting cards

Yes, cards like the Hallmark cards you get for a birthday with cheesy rhymes inside.

And not only did we have to plan the strategy, we then needed to fabricate them, in the least possible time, and compete with 20 other teams from the MBA, the MSc International Business and Emerging Markets, the MSc International Human Resource Management, and the MSc Marketing.

This is the Production Game, and the instructions were as follows:

During a trading period of two hours and 15 minutes, companies comprising 7–10 members must manufacture simple paper-based products (greetings cards) based on orders from a marketplace. Companies are paid for orders that meet the required standards of quality and delivery. Unacceptable products are rejected.

Initial thoughts on this from the room were: "I'm not crafty enough", "How am I supposed to produce greeting cards and compete with other teams", and my personal favourite—quoting the famous Barney Stinson in the How I Met Your Mother series: "Challenge accepted!"

So it began. Our first activity was to attend the table auction where we were to bid on the table we wanted to have on the day of the venue. The decision-making here was whether to buy a table and get a nice location near the materials and controllers or save that money and invest it elsewhere.

Our team felt like Ted Mosby that day; instead of the five little words "We should buy a bar" we definitely thought "We should buy a table!". After spending a lot of imaginary money, we were ready for the day of production.

We arrived at our beloved Potterrow and headed to our table where everything was arranged; the meeting, the menu, the venue, the seating. We found team vests and we organised our materials to get ready for trading. The stencils, pens, and white and coloured papers were ready to be transformed into greeting cards.

"The trading period starts in 3...2...1...Start Trading!"

Production Game Team Members

Chaos and yelling, laughing and producing. Some orders were accepted and celebrations could be heard. Meanwhile, others were rejected and panic could be heard breaking out. The 2 hours and 15 minutes just flew away, and we heard the "Stop production" alert. After a break the winners of the 'Company of the Year' award were announced.

What an incredible and interesting day.

I have to say it was definitely a journey. You have to experience it in order to understand the emotions everyone was feeling and the amount of work that was put in by the teams. In the end, just by participating, we were able to make sense of how efficient and resilient we were, as well as what factors were missing in the team.

Production Game Team with a trophy

Furthermore, it was an amazing opportunity to formulate a strategy (that we thought was the winning one), design and run an actual organisation, and at the same time try as much as possible to stay cool and focused under pressure, just like in real life. But without getting fired, promoted, or losing millions. And most importantly, it was a chance once again to see the beauty of people working together and being human, each one very different. In a nutshell: strategy, practice, teamwork, verses, rhymes, chocolate, magic, and tons of fun!

Alejandra Dancuart Zimmermann

Alejandra Dancuart Zimmermann is from Peru and is studying the MSc Human Resource Management.