Income/Outcome is a hands-on board game business simulation that puts players into C-level roles running their own business. They become entrepreneurial executives, their teams become corporate giants, and the classroom becomes an entire industry.
Income/Outcome is a team competition that provides experiential business learning in the same way that war games teach battlefield strategy.
Team strategies prove successful (or not) at the Market Table
But don’t get the idea that everyone is sitting around a single board, and rolling dice! This is like a war game where teams are strategizing and manipulating their resources against each other. In this simulation, each team has its own board – it shows all the line items of their team’s financial statements, and gives them a “battlefield view” of their cost structure, cash flow situation, inventory levels, borrowing power, etc. Each team sits at its own table and engages in confidential strategy sessions – they may even leave for a breakout room when planning a new pricing strategy, or something similar. Then they come face to face at the Market Table in the competition for customers.
And there aren’t any dice, or chance cards, or spinners. All the information is available to everyone, and, as in chess, it’s a matter of how well you can plan into the future, how well you can anticipate your competitors, how much flexibility you can keep, and how well you can respond to unexpected moves and situations (good or bad, intentional or accidental) generated by your opponents.
It’s not a zero-sum game. Usually the winners are the people who have made the most money, but in a bitterly-contested session the winners could be the team that has lost the least amount!
There are different levels of the game, which can run anywhere from 4 hours to 3 full days. Especially in the longer versions, teamwork is critical, and a team that has difficulty sharing ideas, sourcing and analyzing information, or making decisions in a timely fashion – will inevitably post bad financial results.
In this, as in many ways, the model is an accurate representation of the real business world. Much of the learning is “stealth learning” – participants learn even without realizing it, because they are using a model for visualizing and thinking through all kinds of real-world issues, from the structure and use of financial statements, to the flow of information, to the need to manage separately for cash flow and profit.
They are all highly engaged, they learn rapidly and thoroughly, and they have a challenging and ultimately positive experience. Their company has developed their skills and value while simultaneously enhancing their job satisfaction and morale.
In that sense, it’s a game where everyone wins.