A. Srikumar, N. Essien, K. Hadjikosta, M. Macintyre, C. Martin

University of Warwick (UNITED KINGDOM)
As part of an Aerospace focussed research programme, an industrial game teaching important aspects of product development was developed. With the parallel teaching of an MSc programme it became apparent that there was an opportunity to transfer the learning experience from the game to postgraduate students, which is uncommon to industry-led research. Currently the programme reaches over 400 students per year worldwide and there is potential to exceed this via a number of innovative e-learning and online teaching methods. The game runs on a global scale, is fully scalable and can be delivered to many different levels of experience.

The intention of this research is to enable knowledge sharing that occurs during the product development process in industry and transfer these as key learning points via a lean product development game.

By working as part of multi-disciplinary teams, consisting of individuals with different skill sets, key elements of a typical business operations environment can be experienced by players of the game. Additionally it illustrates the importance of the lean principles and good project management and how the two need to work together for achieving an effective system.

Participants function in project team roles as they exist in real life in order to understand the critical concepts that go into successful product development; such as team work, customer/supplier development, knowledge management and accurate communication.

The use of established pedagogical theories has been employed to guide the development of the project in order to achieve key objectives. Although the game was first developed based on the aerospace sector, the learning points regarding teamwork, communication and collaboration are skills that can be applied across sectors. Based on previous simulations of the game, it is observed that both professionals and students share the same learning points.

By playing this game repeatedly, both participants and instructors have the benefit of improving performance by refining technique, learning from past mistakes and collaborating with others. This learning through failure approach is conducive to Problem Based Learning. Additionally, its simplicity allows for participants to become future facilitators after undergoing a single simulation.

Questionnaires evaluate perception of the critical factors that are involved in a successful new product introduction (NPI) process, before and after participating in the game. These findings illustrate which learning points are transmitted well to the participants and which require further emphasis.

Surveys taken of students, before and after the game, indicate a marked transformation in their perception of the critical factors involved in successful product development. In addition, the results show a significant increase in knowledge transfer and management over subsequent phases of the game. It was also observed that the background knowledge of the participant was irrelevant to the outcome of the game and the learning experience.

Similar results are illustrated in video footage, in which participants are captured acting differently as the game progresses.

The game’s simplicity allows for executing the game anywhere easily and the learning experience it offers lies across sectors, thus making it global and multi-discipline.