Board Game Seeks to Transform Supply Chain Learning

By Michelle Howard
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Pat Smedley & Andy Page

Three years after its inception, today sees the official launch of an innovative new board game designed to teach young people of all ages about the importance of today’s supply chain in global commerce.

The game - Business on the Move - aims to inspire, excite and educate young people from the age of 9 to 19 and beyond. The aim of the game is for players to move different products from China to their U.K. customers by land, sea and air, as quickly, as profitably and as responsibly as they can. In so doing, they are faced with taking decisions similar to those made regularly by many businesses, such as: “How do I meet the delivery deadline?”; “Will I make a profit?”; “How can I improve my supply chain?”; and “How can I cut my carbon footprint?”

The game has been devised by two former Business Studies teachers – Andy Page and Pat Smedley - who set up their Very Enterprising Community Interest Company, a social enterprise, in 2011 to create a versatile supply chain game that could be used by teachers across age groups, school subjects and ability levels. Business on the Move has already won an award under the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Inspiring Enterprise initiative and from the UnLtd charity which supports social entrepreneurs.

Extensive trials of the game in more than 30 schools as well as businesses have proved both its relevance to today’s commercial world and the classroom, as Pat explained, “Research shows that active learning improves students' understanding and retention of information and can be very effective in developing higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.”

To date, nearly 600 young people, teachers and supply chain professionals have played Business on the Move, with another 15,000 young people projected to play over the next 12 months. Andy and Pat’s vision is that by 2020 over 100,000 people will have played the game.

To make the game a reality the initiative has the backing of 50 sponsors from across the business spectrum, including banks, major retailers, logistics service providers and others. The backing from these Partners will enable over 1,800 of the 2,800 games produced to be distributed free-of-charge and with training to some 500 schools across the U.K. Maureen Barwell, HR Director, from one of the Platinum-level sponsors CHEP U.K. & Ireland, commented: “CHEP is impressed by the way Business on the Move manages to combine the sophistication of the supply chain with the simplicity and fun any game needs to work.”

One of the dimensions that make the game particularly different is that the sponsoring businesses feature in the game as themselves, playing the same role in the game that they do in the real supply chain. Sue Green, Program Manager at Skills for Logistics commented, “Business on the Move is an excellent learning tool that, through real world examples and game play, raises awareness of the global supply chain and helps inspire and attract young people to the exciting career opportunities available in the modern logistics sector.”

The national launch of Business on the Move, taking place at the headquarters of the National Union of Teachers in central London, features pupils from Ashmead Primary School in Lewisham, students from Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls in Islington and apprentices from Norbert Dentressangle playing the game, demonstrating to more than 100 invited guests from across the supply chain just how to run a successful business.

One of the game players, Ryan Bailey, an apprentice with Norbert Dentressangle remarked, “As a new recruit into the logistics industry playing this board game gave me a brilliant overview of how global supply chains work; I learned such a lot in a short space of time and enjoyed myself too – I hope to be able to utilise some of the skills learnt during my career with Norbert Dentressangle.”

The launch event also features a guest panel which will be chaired by Derrick Potter, Executive Chairman of Potter Logistics, and will discuss questions about the game, its potential and the roll-out to schools and training providers from September across the U.K. Members of the Panel include Steve Agg (CEO of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport), Max Hyde (President of the National Union of Teachers), Grace Breen (Policy Adviser at the Confederation of British Industry) and Robert Cooper (Stakeholder Manager at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills).

Steve Agg commented, “CILT recognized right from the start that the ‘Business on the Move’ board game could help young people to understand the role that logistics, transport and the supply chain plays in all of our daily lives. Employing more than 10% of the working population in the U.K. ensures that there are great opportunities for young people and we want them to ‘love logistics’ when they come to consider their career options.”

So positive was the response of companies becoming involved, two thirds of the production run is already pledged to go into sponsors’ nominated schools free-of-charge, leaving only 950 games left for sale when the first production run of the game arrives in mid- August.

Paul Downey, Chief Executive of TIR Training, a leading logistics training provider in the U.K., commented, "TIR Training, as part of an educational charity, believes that it is very important to invest in the education of people within the U.K. We see Business on the Move as an exciting way of engaging with young people and promoting careers within the logistics sector. We are delighted to be involved.”

Very importantly, young people in schools, colleges and training will be able to learn how business works in a fun way and then follow up the game by using the many learning activities sponsors have created to develop insights into different aspects of the supply chain - from insurance to international trade and from managing risk to using robots.

It is expected many of the games for sale will be snapped up by companies wanting to donate class sets of five games into their local school, complete with training. Steve Foster, Supply Chain Strategy Manager at Marks & Spencer, said, “This initiative is a unique and fun way for us to engage with our local school communities and bring supply chain and logistics into the classroom in a way that can impact on so many areas of the curriculum. It is a great way of developing commercial and problem solving skills while increasing awareness of the environmental impact caused by the movement of goods around the world.”
 

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