|Creativity and Innovation Timeline
For me the major benefit of the personal computer is the way it has enabled me time to think and this lead to me being (reasonably) creative and innovative. I believe that the way technology supports creativity is far more imortant than the way it improves productivity
In the middle of 1967, with the Distribution Protective Equipment Department's full manufacuring system two plus years away my, boss's boss, boss (that is to say thrre leveles in the organisation) came to me and asked if I could develop an interim system on Time-Sharing. This would not be the full system. Rather it would just cover key products and materials - the 5 to 10% that accounted for for 90% of cash flow through the business. As the mathematics was simpla, it took me about a week and a half to code the system in Algol (at the time BASIC did not have the necessary functionality). Then, once a month I entered the key product schedule and determined raw material needs for the next three months.
Althouth the basic software was not particularly innovative one thing was innovative and one thing reasonably innovative. The main innovation was the output medium. I realised that the purchase schedule would be communicated to suppliers by telex. To save time and speed the communication beside printed output I produced output on paper tape that could be fed in the telex and sent to suppliers - early, first e-purchasing??? The second, slight innovation was to forecast inventory levels over the next three months and, as I describe next, this revealed major problems with the department's scheduling logic.
The first heavy weight simulation model I created was one that analysed the flow of materials through the Distribution Protective Equipment Department. This came about because the interim system was not reducing inventories as forecast and we could not understand what was wrong with our scheduling logic. It seemed to be that the solution was to develop a simulation model that allowd me to test different scheduling logic. This was a stochatic model that ran on the larger Mark II Time Sharing Service
At the time I did not think that this was particularly innovative but (as shown above) it was written up and published in the Advanced Management Journal in 1975 (seven years afterwards!)
My first "Management Game" (business simulation-game) went live February 1970. EXEC is possibly the first online (networked) multiplayer game (The History of Online Gaming suggests Empire as the first game 1973 - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2390917,00.asp - my game was three years earlier than this). This innovation caused me to eventually change my life to designing, providing and using business simulation-games for company training.
This simulation ran on the Mark 1 Computer Time Sharing system with 15k of RAM for the software and this constraint led to a software architecture that used a database to tie together several program modules. The Decision Processing module controlled the input from one ore more geographically spread locations. At predefined times, the Simulation Model was run taking the decisions. The Statistics module collected information about how the simulation progressed that could beused by the tutor to review progress and for the ending review. The Administration model allowed the trainer to setup the simulation, decide the number of competing teams, the time-table and the complexity of the simulation.
Information about my EXEC Management Game System.
Despite the limitations of Time Sharing (and early desktop computers) I was able to develop and run a series of complex business simulation-games that were run as national contests in the UK. As this was before email, participating teams submitted decisions by post.
Information about business contests.
At this time besides drinking red wine I made it. Naturally, I asked myself "is this attractive economically?" I built a financial model to evaluate my wine making and wrote an article!. The article was published in Computing leading me to suggest that I am the only person who has had an article about amateur wine-making published in the computer trade press!
As with most models, this one led me to realising that I had forgotten something. Here it was the space required to store the wine bottles while the wine matured and so I dug a wine cellar in my back garden!
With a degree in electronics and an interest in the impact of technology on business I followed and understood the implications of the chip. This led to me writing articles for Marketing Magazine about the likely impact of micro-electronics on business.
The first - The electronic chip and the marketer (October 1978) explored what microchips were, how they might be used and the implications. Amongst other things I forecast a problem in finding good software designers a problem that still exists some fortyy years later. But the real danger was Marketing Myopia - the inability of established companies to change - something explored at the end of my electronic chip and marketing article.
The electronic chip and the marketer article
Leading on from my articles was a presentation at a symposium on the impact of the microprocessor on business. I've attached a copy so you can decide the accuracy of my predictions. But, when doing this, please take into account the world in 1979 - very few people had desk-top computers, there were no mobile/cell phones, the Internet and search engines did not exist, few companies had word processors - most used typewriters, most financial calculations were done using calculators rather than using spread sheets.
Microprocessors and Marketing paper.
Early 1980 I bought and assembled a Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer. More of a toy but coupled with my Microprocessors and Marketing presentation got me a job at Ashridge - the UK's leading executive training centre. This led to me purchasing a Tandy TRS80 Model 1 microcomputer. Arriving to take up my job with this I introduced Ashridge to personal computers. A little later (1983) I introduced the Institute of Marketing to personal computers when I negotiated a deal for their College of Marketing to have several microcomputers for use on their courses.
I wrote my second book using my Tandy Model 1 computer and after completing it I went to my publisher (Cassels) and asked "What format do you want it in? After getting a blank look, I discovered that they intended to get a Linotype operator to retype the whole book! In the UK this was necessary because the print unions would not allow anything else. However after some discussion, I provided the book on paper tape that was sent to a Singaporian printer to load into their typesetting machines. An example of very early e-publishing!
After designing business simulations for a quarter of a century, I decided to try to make my tacit knowledge explicit. Business simulations used in training are a feedback process and harking back to my Imperial degree (1963), my work on exponential forecasting with GE (in 1967) and my experience running business simulations some 2000 times in the classroom, I developed a Systems Dynamics model of the learning process. Initially this consisted of Understanding (Cognition) and Feelings (Affection) and later extended to Work Load (Cognitive Load). <Note on design>.
Systems Dynamics Paper
As a businessman, I saw my role when running a simulation as proactively managing learning and right from the beginning built in routines to help support me. But this was on an ad hoc, disorganised way and so I felt that it was time to define tutor support needs link these to a tutor's tasks (of administration, facilitation and learning management). Later, when creating my simulation platform, I used this to design a Tutor Support System.
Information about Tutor Support
Tutor Support Paper
In 1995 I won a Churchill Fellowship to meet with trainers, HR executive and academics in the USA to explore the used of Business Simulations and reflect on why and how companies used business simulations to train their staff. This led to a five dimensional model exploring why organisations used a business simulation. As illustrated below, the importance of each dimension depends on overall purpose with some elements key with importance but others with lesser importance.
Information about learning purpose model
I registered my domain (www.simulations.co.uk) and developed a website. This innovation allowed me to move from providing my business simulation-games to UK companies to providing them to clients around the world. In the Naughties, 85% of my revenue was from overseas. Coupled with my simulator platform, the Internet allowed me to provide my simulations on a course rental (software as a service) basis. Prospective clients can download the simulation-game in evaluation mode and when they wished to use it get a code that releases the full version for an agreed period. This innovation reduced barriers to use and coupled with my Tutor Support System encourages trainers to use my business simulation-games.
As early as 1993 I decided that I should create a business simulation software architecture and turn this into a platform. At that time the UK government had the "SMART" innovation grant scheme and so I applied. My application was turned down because it would be impossible for me to patent my innovation. This "joined-up" government thinking needs to be considered in the context of how computers and software were changing the world and that, in the UK, it is not possible to patent software. I feel that if my innovation had involved boiler plate and steam engines this would have been acceptable - even though the technology was about 100 years out of date.
How I innovated my architecture
It was very obvious to me that academic education and business learning were very different and I reflected on university business models, the impact of technologogy and consumerism and wrote a short article wondering whether universities as we knew them would exist in 2020 (a 2020 vision!). As with any organisation, the driving force is the reward system - for universities it is getting papers published and not teaching (or even useful research). At a conference, more than decade later I (as I'm wont to do) made a comment that caused one professor to state "that is the difference between education and training". My immediate response was "no it's the difference between education and learning".
My article on the future of education
One of the issues I alluded to was the way large companies would sponsor education and this is now happening with James Dyson setting up a university (Novemberl 2016)
Having completed by platform, used it to develop some new simulations and update existing simulations I was ready to shout about it!!! and so I entered the East London and Essex Awards. Competing against big players (like the West Ham Football Club and Canary Wharf businesses) I did not think that I had a chance - but I won!!!!
Information about my platform
By 2005 I had developed sixty plus business simulations and felt that it was time to share my approach to simulation design. I did so with a paper at the 2005 ABSEL Conference entitled "Computer business simulation design: the rock pool method". Why rock pool? Well the approach reminded me of the way I explored rock pools as a child at low tide. My movement between rock pools was systematic but my exploration of a individual rock pool was unstructured with me randomly turning over rocks and revisiting them as critters scurried around. I felt that this metaphor was right for a design process that involved a rigorous movement from stage to stage but an agile process within each stage. The paper won the Best Paper award!
Information about my Rock Pool methodology
While at a conference I Boston, Mass, I heard about a book by Scott McCloud about the structural design of comic/cartoon strips. This resonated with me as I had always regarded business simulations as mathematical comic strips. I bought his books and mapped the ideas to the design of business simulations. I keynoted the 2008 ISAGA conference talking about corporate cartooning and presented a paper at the 2008 ABSEL conference. (Although it is fair to say that some academics felt that associating business simulations with comic strips was inappropriate!)
Corporate cartooning paper
After the Corporate Cartooning presentation, I continued refining my ideas and applying them to the design of new simulations. This involved moving design away from replicating reality to the structural design to ensure effective and efficent learning. For fine art (paintings) the move away from mearly drawing well to composition was recognised more than a century ago and I feel this it is about time the same paradyn shift occurs for business simulations.
My paper about Meta-Composition won the best paper award at the 2017 ABSEL conference.
Information about Meta-Composition
ABSEL conference paper
CV 2.0 involves presenting my CV (curriculum vita) as an online infographic that one can click on to get additional information.
In 2017, while reflecting on my Poster Presentation 2.0 (see later) and how poor I am at networking I thought "why not take my online CV and print on a tee-shirt" thus moving onto CV 2.1!
I continued my exploration of the artistic design of business simulations. I asked myself whether, like fine art masterpieces, business simulations could be formally analysed. A spin off of this was developing a set of business simulation design principles that corresponded with painting design principles.
Information about Design Principles
A poster presentation or poster session is an alternate to a formal presentation at an academic or practitioner conference. An area is set aside where (on a scheduled or unscheduled basis) an individual (and sometimes colleagues) can discuss the topic with passing conference delegates. It has the advantage that the presenter interacts one-to-one with delegates for a short time. Hence it provides good learning (for both the presenter and the delegate). But there are significant disadvantages - conference delegates must go to the poster session and it is likely to be scheduled at the same times as the formal presentations. As such the traditional poster presentations last century - it is time to move on.
Poster Presentation 2.0 maintains the one-to-one discussion element but overcomes the disadvantages. Instead of displaying information on a paper poster the information is printed on a tee-shirt worn by the presenter!
The tee-shirt is designed to stimulate discussion on business simulation design principles. It is infographic like but it is enigmatic to encourage people to ask questions. It extends the poster presentation into networking sessions, over coffee, at lunch, etc., etc., etc.. (Also, this approach serves to define my emotional age - 6 years!).
I wore the this tee shirt at the 2017 ABSEL conference - it was a smash hit - people photographed it - others asked if they could buy one. Perhaps, I will get several made up for the 2017 ISAGA and the 2018 ABSEL conferences!!!!© 2017 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall
Most recent update: 24/03/17
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