Good (and Bad) Experiences

Over the years I have many experiences, good, bad and odd. Here. after placing my tongue in my cheek, I reflect on and share these!!.  They are grouped by work, learning, suppliers, travel and ???

Work Experiences

I have developed 70+ different business simulation-games (probably more than any individual anywhere). Besides designing simulations for manufacturing, retail, service and distribution companies around the world, I have developed simulations for casinos, not-for-profits and banks (although I emphasise the banking simulation is NOT an amalgam of the casino and not-for-profit simulation-game). The step increase in 1983 was when I left Ashridge and became fully self employed. See

1976: My One-Man Firm setup

In 1976 I escaped working for a large company to teach at a college and run my business to provide and design business simulation-games. (So still going strong 40+ year's on.) I suggested several names to the registrar of business names including (tongue in cheek) "Hall Marketing" (a play on my name and Ham Mark - the sign associated with precious metals). I have regretted ever since that the registrar decided on Hall Marketing as it does not identify what I do!

1982 - Taste Test

When teaching marketing it is important to understand that customers have needs and wants some of which are tangible while others are intangible and emotional. A good example of the is the blind taste test where, often, brand leaders fair worse that own brands. A powerful example is for blindfolded people to attempt to differentiate between Bitter Beer, Lager Beer and Guinness (yes Bitter, Lager and Guinness). After dinner, on one residential course I decided to test this after dinner. The first course member was a member of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) - a serious beer drinker (however I felt reasonably confident as he was a smoker). He could not tell the difference. The next guinea pig negotiated the purchase of wines but again he failed. The rest of the group decided that it was my turn. I was blindfolded and given a glass of beer. But as a non smoker, with a good sense of taste, I identified that the beer had been adulterated with whisky - an excellent way to develop rapport.

1982 - Team Formation

The last course I ran at Ashridge had a group consisting of five ladies and ten men. On the Wednesday evening these were to work in teams on a case study. Instead of spreading the ladies around the teams (as is usual) I set up the teams so that one was the ladies and the other two the men. Instead of telling the group who were in the teams, I provided the team formation as a hand out. On reading this I was greeted with cries of "you bastard!" The competition was very high with the teams working late, very late into the night. I feel that the men felt threatened and the ladies were definitely threatening. I will not describe here which team gave the best presentation next morning (as I do not with to embarrass the men). The next evening another exercise was scheduled but the group was shattered. They came to me explaining this and suggesting that the exercise should be postponed to the next morning and instead of the course ending at 12:30 the next day it should continue into the afternoon. Thinking rapidly and knowing Ashridge's flexibility I suggested a working lunch so we could end at 2:00 rather than at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.

1983: Became fully Self-Employed

At the beginning of 1983 I became fully self-employed in 1983 and since then I have earned my whole living designing, running and providing business simulations to companies around the world.

1989: I moved to East London (Poplar)

Initially on becoming self-employed, I worked from home and I ten rented an office and finally a unit in a badly run enterprise centre. Then the enterprise centre massively increase my rent but, serendipitously, a couple of days after this I read an article in the Sunday Times about Live-Work units. This led to me leasing my current studio workshop and I moved my firm to East London (predating "East London Tech City" by two decades). The studio workshop was in an old dog food factory and I bought is as a shell unit that I fitted out. Today with the Internet I would probably opt to move to a nice tropical beach location with reasonable access to an airport.

1990 - 1993: RSI

Having used computers for nearly a quarter of a century I began to suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The doctors tried everything - anti inflammatory tablets, physiotherapy, steroid injections, acupuncture, splints (for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and my GP even suggested I had my hands amputated (I assume that he was joking but you never can tell with the medical profession). The problem reached the stage that I could only do a couple of hours each day before my arms ached so badly that I had to stop work for the day. Eventually, in desperation, I decided to try an angled, ergonomic keyboard that cost me about 30 and cured the problem in practically overnight!!!

2002: Innovative Award

During this period I defined a simulation-game software architecture and implemented this in software. This innovation allowed me to extend the life of my business simulation-games (I have simulations from the 1970s and 1980s still in use - exceptional for computer software). It allows me to develop business simulation-games that deliver better learning and create new simulations in a fraction of the time take by competitors. (Benchmarked against competitors, suggests that it takes me a fifth of the time to create a new simulation - see - link3) This innovation won me the East London and Essex Innovation Award in 2002 (I won this award competing against West Ham Football Club but, as I do not follow football, I do not know if winning against West Ham is a significant achievement or not).

Learning Experiences

Because I design, provide and have used business simulations to take business people "from knowledge, through simulated experience to wisdom" it is appropriate that I have learnt a lot from experience and this has followed the Kolb Experiential Cycle.

1967 to 1982 while working full time I actively experimented with the design and use of business simulations. During that time I developed 14 simulations and ran them many times. As part of this experimentation I developed 5 types of business simulations (Total Enterprise, Functional, Concepts, Planning and Process).

1983 to 1992 on becoming self employed I had multiple concrete experiences as I ran simulations for clients around the world. Additionally, I developed 30 simulations. Running simulations on company training programmes hone my teaching and my design skills.

1993 to 2005: During my first 25 years with business simulations I built up my tacit knowledge and at the beginning of 1993 I felt that it was time to try to make this tacit knowledge explicit and so I began to reflect and developed my personal development cycle. Over this period I developed a further 18 simulations

2006 onward I moved on to active conceptualisation - specifically taking business simulation design from merely attempting to replicate reality to ensuring learning effectiveness and efficiently. I developed a further 9 simulations.

1993: Education is not Learning

I felt that the way to convert my tacit knowledge to explicit was to study for a PhD. Although I had a brilliant supervisor I found that the other academics had no idea about the needs of a very experienced businessman - a man who had been involved in providing andragogic (adult) learning for over two decades and had worked at the UK leading executive learning provider. Perhaps this can be illustrated by the reaction of the university to my being awarded a Churchill Fellowship - a fellowship that would involve me spending time overseas - I was told that I had to get permission from the university to travel. I considered using crayons to writing the letter shown below.

(In fact a "child" response to "a "critical parent" communication is wholly appropriate.) Despite aborting the PhD research I continued to transform my tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and this led to an innovation award from my business simulation platform, being awarded the World of Learning "Outstanding Contribution to the Training Industry" and several awards for papers about business simulation design.

1994: ABSEL - Association for Business Simulation and Experiential Learning

My first academic paper won the best research paper at the ABSEL Conference in San Diego. (ABSEL is the world's leading learning body associated with the design, use and research into business simulations for learning. The knowledge base on their website is comprehensive,)

1995: Churchill Fellowship

I won a Churchill Fellowship to study the uses of business simulation-games in the USA. Note I use the word study rather than research as I feel that is more appropriate for adult learning rather than academic education.

My Churchill fellowship study led to me developing learning purpose and usage models and better understand constraints - central to my development of a simulation-game software architecture and platform. Below is a picture of me receiving my Churchill Fellowship from John Major (Prime Minister).

2005 Onward: Personal Development Cycle

As my use of the Internet increased my learning effectiveness and efficiency increased and, recently, conceptualised my personal development process as a cycle and how there was a hierarchy of learning from Learning 0.0, through Learning 1.0 to Learning 2.0

Learning 0.0 - Pedagogic Education
This is what happens at school and university where the emphasis is on learning facts
that can be regurgitated in exams and where the process is usually the lecture.

Learning 1.0 - Andragogic Learning
This is what happens with good
adult learning initiatives - learning that involves peer group discussion, interactive exercises, teaching others and (of course) business simulations. The emphasis and purpose is to learn things that can be applied on the job and lead to personal and corporate success. It is where the learning is initiated an decided by the learners' organisation.

Learning 2.0 - Personal Development
This where the individual takes charge of his or her learning. I've always thought that this is important but it is only recently with the Internet that it is an effective and efficient approach. Below I show the learning process (cycle) that I have found works for me.


2017: Third Best Paper!?

In 2015 I received a call to submit a paper on Temporality in Simulation Gaming for a special edition of an academic journal. As this was an special interest of mine (I have published papers about the subject since 1993) I submitted a paper. I was shocked by the response - one review stated "he needs proper education, training and exercise in academic research and writing. The author would benefit from cooperation with a more experienced academic researcher.

Because of this I decided to submit the paper, unchanged to the 2017 ABSEL conference. (ABSEL is the world's leading learned society associated with the design and use of business games.) ABSEL blind reviewed the paper (the academic journal reviews were not blind). I was pleased to have the paper accepted with one reviewer commenting "A high quality paper I am glad to see in ABSEL submission". A second reviewer commented "The research based approach with the tables and graphics provided an in-depth analysis. The reflective triggers differentiate the simulation from cognition prompts and are innovative. Business simulations like this model can be successfully implemented in face to face and online learning environments. Extremely academic and well-written paper". The difference seems to me because the journal reviews were non-blind reviews and they lacked understanding of business simulation games (in fact it was apparent that their area of knowledge seemed limited to that of video games). This contrasted with the ABSEL reviews that were blind and was done by business professors who have demonstrated significant, long-term, in-depth knowledge business simulation games.

However, the story does not end there. My pleasure was increased when I found that I had been nominated for a best paper award and increased further when my paper won the best simulation paper award.


Travel Experiences

I am not sure how far I have traveled around the world on business but I suspect that it is more than half a million miles and, except for South America and India I've traveled to all continents (although for Australia it was only a stop over as unlike most countries I need to get a visa). Most of the time my experiences have been good but some were bad (KLM, United and Heathrow) and some mixed (immigration).

1986 & 1988: Around the World

I provided business simulation-games to the Benson & Hedges Management Challenge. This was an international business contest - perhaps the world's largest (with around 5000 contestants each year). Annually it achieved about 11,000 column centimetres of editorial coverage. The contest took me all the way around the world - twice!

1988 - Auckland Airport closed for lunch

The second time I flew me around the world I stopped off in New Zealand to run a seminar on business simulation use. When it was time to fly on to the USA I checked in at Auckland Airport and proceeded to go to airside. On arriving at immigration I was greeted with a notice saying that it was closed for lunch!

2008 - 2011: KLM

Happily despite having traveled very extensively I have had few delayed flights. However, my experience with KLM has been disastrous - not on one occasion but on three.

1. I was flying to Hong Kong from Heathrow via Amsterdam. At Heathrow I saw that the flight to Amsterdam was delayed because of problems at Amsterdam (Schiphol) and, as there was a short transfer time at Schiphol I checked with KLM customer services and was assured that I would NOT miss the connection as all flights out of Schiphol were delayed. Eventually I arrived at Schiphol but unlike other similar occasions with other airlines people with connecting flights were not deplaned first. Walking to the gate for the Hong Kong flight I saw the plane but on arriving (a couple of minutes later) it was gone. Again, unlike a similar situation with other airlines KLM did not hold the flight for a couple of minutes. The outcome: I arrived in Hong Kong a day late but. happily, as I had given myself this time I did not arrive late for my client meeting.

2. On returning from Milan I boarded my plane just after mid-day and sat for an hour while KLM tried to fix a problem. When this was impossible we deplaned, went to collect our bags and then had to go to rebook on a later flight. In baggage claim we waited and waited and waited with no information. Although I do not speak Italian I recognised that one Italian lady was rather frustrated from her loudly calling baggage claim staff "bastado". Eventually I got my bags and went to recheck in. With a full plane to recheck and just one KLM check-in this took a lot of time. (Interestingly, Air France the KLM sister company had four check-ins open and these were practically unused). Eventually, I got checked in to a 21:00 hour flight to Schiphol. At about 17:00 hours I saw that an earlier flight was at a gate and went to investigate. Think how I felt when I saw the people who had been behind me at check-in were being board and I exploded. But, no, I had to wait until the 21:00 flight. Eventually I arrived in Schiphol and as there would be no flights to London until the next day would have to stay in a hotel over night. The cabin crew said no problem - just go to the KLM transfer desk. At the transfer desk the staff knew nothing about this and sent me to their customer service (sic) desk. Eventually, with considerable difficulty I found this and was told that I would be bused to a nearby hotel. Happily, another passenger knew that the hotel in question was not nearby and we both got accommodation at an on-airport hotel. The next morning I went to the gate, was checked in, went through security and sat, relieved that (at last) every thing was fine. It was NOT, I was called over to the desk and told yes I was on the flight but the ticket had not been paid for - rather than miss the flight and delay further I paid on my credit card. When home I contacted KLM - they paid for the Schiphol-London Flight yes but, initially, refused to pay compensation for the delay. Armed with information from the web I was eventually paid compensation.

3. After this I swore to avoid KLM. Unfortunately a client booked me on a KLM flight. Remembering the earlier problems, I decided to fly three hours before necessary. A good move because my flight was delayed by two hours.

2012 - Dis United

About a day and a half before I was due to fly back from Chicago to London I received an email saying the flight was cancelled and I was rescheduled on a later flight. The United email is shown below. The time shown is UK time and so in Chicago it was received from United six hours earlier - at 07:23 am

Wondering why I asked the reason for the cancellation and two months later and after writing to the CEO (who did not reply) as shown in the email below) I was told that a mechanical issue was found with the aircraft during pre-flight checks!!!!

Chicago is United's headquarters and. perhaps, its premier hub. Given a day and a half, one has to wonder why, if there was really a mechanical issue found during pre-flight checks they could not get the aircraft fixed or a replacement. Any way, I never knew that pilots sat in the cockpit doing pre-flight checks a day and a half before departure. Of course, the reason for the cancellation might not have been due to problems found during pre-flight checks. Perhaps, the aircraft was nearly empty and the airline was happy to disrupt and mislead customers to save the cost of an empty plane.

Needless to say, United is on my won't fly list after all if they were happy to mislead customers like this might they not mislead about security and maintenance?. After a passenger was dragged, screaming off a United Flight to provide a seat for crew, I'm glad I decided not to fly United as they still do not care about their customers.

2016 - Heathrow Special Services

Now in my seventies I suffer badly with arthritis and, so, when flying I make use of the wheelchair service as I can no longer walk long distances or stand for long periods at security or immigration. With the exception of Heathrow. this service is brilliant. However, at Heathrow it is awful. I was asked to speak at a university in Muscat, Oman and arranged for wheelchair service with the airline. On checking in the contacted "Special Services" for them to collect me from seating by check-in. After waiting over half an hour, the airline again contacted "Special Services". More than half and hour later they again contacted "Special Services". Eventually, about an hour and a half later I was collected but by the time I arrived airside the gate was open and I could have missed the flight if "Special Services" had not been repeatedly chased. My experience at Heathrow contrasted with my experience when flying back from Muscat. There, while checking in I sensed some one behind me. On turning round I found a man with a wheelchair waiting. Also, unlike ALL the other airports where I have used wheelchair service instead of taking you to ground transport, at Heathrow, once you leave airside they dump you out of the wheelchair to hobble, painfully to ground transport. Naturally, I complained to the CEO. After a month I received a reply but had lost interest by that time. A few months later the Daily Mail had an editorial about Heathrow's awful "Special Services" and this gave me the opportunity to write to them - my letter is displayed below.

My thoughts at the time and now is that Heathrow is so not ready for a third runway as they cannot operate well with two runways.

Other Airports

There are two airports that I really like - City Airport, London and Atlanta, Georgia

City Airport is close to where I live and has sensible check in meaning that it is especially good for the business traveler. The only downside is it does not do long haul flights.

Atlanta has a very nice and efficient immigration service. Unlike Miami or Houston (where you may have to stand for an hour or more to get through immigration) at Atlanta it takes a few minutes and the staff are nice. I remember on one occasion in response to the question whether I was visiting the USA on business or for pleasure I replied both. The immigration officer smiled and said "I won't tell your wife".



2002: Partnership with major university

My old university (Imperial) wanted a business simulation to introduce their students to entrepreneurship. Imperial brought the content/knowledge needs to the design. I brought the practical/process aspects to the design and Hewlett Packard sponsored the activity. This knowledge sharing approach combined the best of the best!

2005: Innovative Design Methodology Recognised

My innovative Rock Pool business simulation-game design methodology won the best paper award at the ABSEL Conference. (ABSEL - the Association for Business Simulation and Experiential Learning is the world's leading learning society associated with business simulation-game design and use.) This cemented my reputation as a business simulation-game authority. This best paper award was my second ABSEL best paper award. Of the 68 best paper awards since 1973 mine are the only ones awarded to a business training provider - all the rest were won by academics (university professors).

2006: Outstanding Contribution to UK Training Industry

I won the World of Learning "Outstanding Contribution to the Training Industry". In the words of the judges "A real expert, Jeremy shows an enviable longevity and contribution to the industry. Jeremy has not only developed exceptional simulation models that have saved time and money for the organisations he has worked with, he has also made these materials available to trainers throughout the industry". ;

Purchase Experiences

Hardware and Software

This section explores my experiences buying hardware and software over the years - most good but some very bad.

1997 - PCS Direct

This computer was delivered with a non-working floppy disc drive. The company ignored letters and phone calls but, luckily, I bought the computer using a deferred payment using a finance company and they voided the contract so I did not have to pay. As PCS Direct was making grandiose claims in its adverts about customer satisfaction (sic) and value of their products I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority - what a useless organisation. A year or so later PCS Direct went bankrupt.

1998: Fujitsu Myrica

Electronics either  fail soon after purchase of last for years and years. Unfortunately my Myrica failed soon after purchase. Fujitsu sent an engineer quickly and fixed the computer in my office - good service - unlike the previous supplier.

2006: PC World Court Case

I purchased McAffee virus protection for about 25 from my local PC World store. Installation failed and my computer stopped working - I could not even start it in safe mode - the computer was destroyed. I phoned PC World and after wasting about an hour trying to find someone who would help I wrote recorded delivery to PC World's Chief Executive. After no response I wrote again and again got no response. I wrote a third time, this time I got a response saying that the matter would be looked into and they would get back to me. More than six months later, after no response, I started action in the courts to recover my losses. PC World defended the action and lost - eventually I recovered more than 600 from PC World. Since then I have never bought anything from PC World or their group companies. (Based on current on-line reviews PC World has not changed).


This section explores my experiences with banks - most good but some very bad.

I took my time moving from employed to self-employed. Between mid 1976 and the beginning of 1983 I worked teaching, first for a further education college and then for a major management college in parallel to building up a portfolio of products and customers. This meant that I built up my cash ready for me becoming self-employed and I have never had cash flow problems. The only time I needed to borrow was to buy the lease on my studio workshop (1989).

2006: Changing my Mortgage.

In the early naughties I decided to change the mortgage on my studio workshop into an offset mortgage and when preparing for this I move some funds to the bank holding my mortgage. When I did this I was amazed to be asked how much I earned each month. Amazed because I was giving money from the bank, had a personal account for more than 40 years and a business account for more than 25 years. I refused and contacted the bank's CEO to complain, The bank was intransigent and insisted that I provide the information. Eventually I capitulated and told them that I earned 1 a month and they accepted this ridiculous figure. Several years later the Times Newspaper published a cartoon ridiculing the bank and so I wrote to them. The letter was published at the bottom right of the paper's letter page. This is the much coveted, premium position for newspaper letters anywhere in the world as it is the position where the paper prints short, sharp and witty letters.

Neither a lender,
Sir, The cartoon showing two people about to lend some money to Lloyds Bank (Aug 6) reminded me of a situation several years ago where I was moving a reasonable amount of money into Lloyds.

At that time I was asked what I earned a month. Despite being a Lloyds customer for more than 40 years and that I was lending the bank money, it insisted that I provided an answer.

Rather annoyed and not seeing the relevance, I eventually answered "1 a month". Once it had this answer the bank was happy to accept a large deposit.

Good Banks

The word good is not one that you would associate with a bank yet I applaud two banks - Metro Bank and Citibank.

After this experience and unwilling to wait in line for long periods I moved my business account to Metro Bank. This is great, rarely do I have to wait in line. If there are lines then they have a person greeting customers who ushers me to a seat until staff come free. A second advantage is their opening hours - Metro Bank is open 362 days a year - open every day (including Saturdays and Sundays) except ;for Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The only downside for me I have to travel to Southampton Row in London to visit a branch.

If you are located close to Canary Wharf and travel regularly to the USA and/or Europe Citibank is a great bank. Again short waiting times plus you can have foreign currency accounts. Finally, if you are a CitiGold customer (as I am) you have access to a lounge (with comfortable chairs, coffee and biscuits) AND you can book small rooms for meetings - brilliant.

2008: Keynote at ISAGA Conference

I was delighted to be asked to keynote the 2008 ISAGA conference. ISAGA (International Simulation And Gaming Association) is the world's leading learning body associated with games and simulations.

Key note presentation at the 2008 ISAGA Conference

2012: Recognition by World Leading Simulation Body

My expertise and contribution to business simulation-games was further recognised by my being inducted as an ABSEL Fellow. Of the 50 fellows inducted since 1987, I am the only non-academic fellow (all the rest are university professors) and the only one outside North America.

Project Experiences

Here I discuss some project highlights.

2017 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 24/03/17
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982 E-mail