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Harvard Simulations

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Harvard PM Sim

Harvard Business Publishing provides a range of simulations geared to the academic community. These simulations use real-world contexts to reinforce student learning in Entrepreneurship, Finance, Marketing, Negotiation, Operations Management, Organisational Behavior and Strategy (see for details on each).

Act Knowledge facilitators have delivered Harvard’s Project Management and Supply Chain Management simulations as part of the MBAx Program at the UNSW Business School since 2011.

Prendo Simulations

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Project Controls class

Prendo is a UK-based provider of project simulations which are developed with input from industry and client experts, and with advice from professors at the world’s leading business schools.

This content expertise is combined with Prendo’s unique simulation authoring system and ability to model technical, financial and, in particular, human variables.

This capability has evolved since 1998 when Prendo was commissioned by Shell to develop a simulation of how their typical spectrum of stakeholders behave during a sensitive project. Since then, Prendo, its clients and its partners have run hundreds of simulation workshops. The feedback from thousands of managers across a wide range of both private and public sector organisations has been used to further refine the simulations, optimising the learning experiences and adjusting the subtle balance in the simulations between realism, complexity and usability.

Prendo’s simulations are much more than simplistic “quizzes” or “e-reading” exercises, but are more comparable to flight simulators – i.e. they are highly realistic virtual environments that model the dynamic variables of the situations and thus allow managers to ‘live’ the challenges and practise the corresponding skills.

Act Knowledge has been delivering Prendo simulations in Australia since 2011.

managing project teams (“pensum”)

Prendo’s Managing Project Teams simulation gives participants a dynamic experience of controlling project execution in the safety of a simulated environment. Even for experienced project leaders, achieving project objectives consistently on-time and on-budget remains a difficult and sometimes elusive goal. Structuring effective control procedures for the muddle, ambiguity and stress of complex projects is essential to successful delivery. To improve their control of projects, the people using the simulation develop their capabilities in the following areas: Managing project success; Managing risks and uncertainty; Establishing appropriate control over the project; Managing the project sponsor; and Using communication effectively.

Participants need to structure and use control procedures and actions during the implementation of the project, while dealing with the uncertainties and risks in the time, cost and quality of delivery of the project’s tasks. They have at their disposal the tools of project management, such as GANTT charts, EV graphs and risk logs. They must decide how to interpret this information on an on-going basis, how to use it for making adjustments as the project progresses, and how to communicate the appropriate information effectively with project team members and sponsors.

The simulation was developed originally for a project management training and consulting firm.

The simulation is typically used within 1 and 2 day workshops, for between 9 and 40 participants

project leadership (“spatium”)

Prendo’s Project Leadership simulation allows participants, organised in competing teams, to manage a complex project from initiation through to operation. It gives teams a chance to experience how their decisions in all the key project management disciplines combine to determine the final outcomes. The simulation was developed after conducting a thorough survey of the most common causes of project failure and it requires teams to make judgements in several key areas including: clarifying and keeping focus on objectives (e.g. commercial outcomes), scope definition and changes, contract and procurement strategy, resourcing, scheduling, risk and stakeholder management. Crucially, the simulation brings to life the importance of integrating these disciplines.

The simulation was developed in collaboration with the Major Projects Association, with expert input from across the MPA’s network of contacts, in particular Dr Martin Barnes FREng CBE.

The simulation is typically used within 1 and 2 day workshops, for between 9 and 40 participants

project control (“schola”)

Prendo’s Project Control simulation gives participating teams an opportunity to practise using a range of project management tools and techniques, including: risk and stakeholder analysis, work breakdown structures, logical flow and critical path analysis, bar charts, budgeting, cashflow, resource allocation and also Earned Value analysis.
The simulation challenges teams to use the techniques simultaneously and it gives them a chance to experience the difficult trade-offs and the “juggling” act that project managers usually face.
The simulation is typically used within 1 and 2 day workshops, for between 9 and 40 participants
The simulation was developed in collaboration with Cranfield School of Management

leading change (“mutari”)

Prendo’s Leading Change simulation gives participating teams a chance to “live” the challenges of managing an organisational change initiative. The simulation is based on a comprehensive model of how and why human beings react to change: i.e. a range of commercial, personal, emotional and ‘political’ factors.

The simulation is also used in Merger Integration and Strategy Implementation contexts. Based around a scenario of planning the integration of two organisations after a merger, the simulation challenges teams to decide a series of integration options (e.g. staff reduction and IT systems) that have different cost saving and revenue growth implications. Teams also have to manage the human reactions to the change, and it is the careful balance of these business and human (hard and soft) factors which determines the final success of the initiative.

The simulation is typically used within ½ and 1 day workshops, for between 9 and 50 participants.

The simulation was developed in conjunction with Maurizio Zollo (now of SDA Bocconi) when he was an Associate Professor at INSEAD.

The simulation’s ‘project file’, which summarises the scenario, is included as a case in the market-leading change text for business schools: Managing Change: Cases and Concepts, by Todd Jick and Maury Peiperl

managing stakeholders (“pactio”)

Prendo’s Managing Stakeholders simulation is derived from a simulation that was originally commissioned by Shell. The simulation has been used across many industries and also by numerous public sector organisations. It brings to life the universal leadership challenge of gaining buy-in and approval across a range of interested parties that are likely to have different and often conflicting interests. This capability is increasingly regarded as the key factor that determines the success of initiatives.
The simulation has been used in project and general management contexts and also a range of leadership courses. It also brings to life many of the issues associated with corporate responsibility, including how to define the ultimate success criteria of projects and the value of reputation.
The simulation is typically used within ½ and 1 day workshops, for between 9 and 50 participants.

How to Make a Colossal Difference with a Small First Step

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John Maxwell Sitting

By John C. Maxwell

Many people look at all that’s wrong in the world and mistakenly believe that they cannot make a difference. The challenges loom large, and they feel small. They believe they must do big things to have a life that matters. Or they think they have to reach a certain place in life from which to do something significant.

Does that seed of doubt exist in you? Have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, “I will only be able to make a difference . . .

  • “When I come up with a really big idea,
  • “When I get to a certain age,
  • “When I make enough money,
  • “When I reach a specific milestone in my career,
  • “When I’m famous,” or
  • “When I retire?”

None of these things is necessary before you can start to achieve significance. You may not realize it, but those hesitations are really nothing more than excuses. The only thing you need to achieve significance is to be intentional about starting—no matter where you are, who you are, or what you have. Do you believe that? You can’t make an impact sitting still. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy once told me, “Do the ordinary things better than anyone else and you will achieve excellence.” The same is true for significance. Begin by doing ordinary things.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That’s true. In fact, so does every human being’s first journey. As children, we had to learn how to take that first step in order to walk. We don’t think anything of it now, but it was a big deal then.

Every big thing that’s ever been done started with a first step.

When Neil Armstrong took his first walk on the moon, he stated, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But the first steps of that achievement occurred decades before. We can’t get anywhere in life without taking that first small step. Sometimes the step is hard; other times it’s easy. But no matter what, you have to do it if you want to get anywhere in life.

You never know when something small that you do for others is going to expand into something big. That was true for Chris Kennedy, a golfer from Florida. In 2014, a friend nominated him to do the Ice Bucket Challenge for the charity of his choice. Kennedy passed along the challenge to his wife’s cousin Jeanette Senercia because the two liked to tease and challenge one another. Kennedy chose ALS as his charity because Jeanette’s husband suffered from the disease. Jeanette accepted the challenge, posted the video on her Facebook page, and nominated others.[i]

That was a small start of something big. In today’s digital world we talk about things going viral. The term viral was coined because ideas and initiatives can spread quickly the way germs do. Almost anything that starts out as a single idea, a bold statement, a YouTube video, or a creative or memorable photo can gain vast popularity and quickly spread through word of mouth via the Internet.

The Ice Bucket Challenge soon went viral. If you somehow missed out on it, the idea was to either donate to the ALS Association or record a video of yourself being doused with ice water, and then challenge three other people to donate or get doused.

This turned out to be a brilliant idea to raise money for an important cause—to help fight a disease that many people otherwise might not have known about and would not have donated to see cured. I participated in the challenge. Sure, I was aware of the disease, but it wasn’t a charity I normally gave to. I was nominated by colleagues to take the challenge, and I was happy to participate.

Most people chose to give and get doused. When I accepted the challenge, I made a donation and asked three of my grandchildren to do the honors of soaking me. They used not one, but three, freezing cold buckets of water on me. Though I pleaded for compassion and warm water, the grandkids showed no mercy!

The best part is that over $113.3 million was donated between July and September of 2014 as a result of the ice bucket challenge, compared to $2.7 million dollars donated during the same period of time the previous year. On Facebook alone, over 28 million people uploaded, commented, or liked ice bucket related posts the last time I checked. The purpose of the campaign wasn’t just to raise money. It was about raising awareness. But they accomplished both with great intentionality.

What can you do now? As you think about making a difference, be willing to start small. You never know whether your passion-fueled idea will have an outcome similar to that of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

~ Adapted from John C. Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living

 [1] Alexandra Sifferlin, “Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Started,” Time, August 18, 2014,, accessed January 29, 15.


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