That’s exactly what Felix Tan has set out to do in his classroom, introducing a gamified approach to studying logistics, manufacturing scenarios, and product distribution. These simulation games bridge the gap between theory and reality. ‘When students are playing the game they are in a simulated competitive marketplace. Groups take the role of companies and compete against each other to get the highest profit margin and market share.’
‘It’s about understanding your customers, their motivations and business problems, and finding better solutions.
And that is only the beginning. ‘The simulation game is good, but we need to inspire our students to innovate – find new ways to solve day-to-day business and social problems. They need to think outside the box in regard to how they can use technologies to get better results.’
Design thinking methodology is the answer.
The introduction of design thinking to the simulation game allows students to storyboard their solutions with physical aids, such as building bricks and post-it® notes. Showcasing the efficacy of their solutions in a more illustrative manner can make a complex discussion simple. ‘For example, a graphical representation complements the thinking behind managing complicated supply chains.’
Team work, design thinking and gamification. Inspired by the competitive and incentive-driven nature of industry, Felix has created a cooperative working environment for students. ‘My classes have become more akin to a team sport, just like the work place. You’re in a team, you have a strategy, you have a leader, everyone has a role to play and you need to encourage and support each other. When this is combined with experiential learning of technologies and design thinking it takes learning to a different level.’
Felix’s unique implementation of design thinking isn’t limited to the UNSW Business School. The school’s partnership with the SAP Universities Alliance has seen Felix take his ideas across the globe. ‘I’m sharing these methods across regional China where schools generally use more traditional approaches. They want to know more about simulation games and they want to learn about design thinking.’
Felix was named Outstanding Academic of the SAP Academic Alliance (Asia-Pacific and Japan) in 2016 for his novel approach – rethinking how we think about thinking.