North East small companies play the Durham Business Game
(13 September 2006)
Ten employees from local businesses were challenged to take part in the Durham Business Game, part of Durham Business School’s Key Employee Programme, which aims to help small businesses develop entrepreneurial and enterprising skills.
The Durham Business Game is a simulated business scenario that gives participants an insight into the wider implications of business, giving them the opportunity to put into practice the theory they learned from the Key Employee Programme. Participants from a range of North East small businesses were split into two groups and put through their paces in a competitive environment, with the brief to successfully run a profitable business in the paper industry. Each team had to buy the raw materials, manufacture the product and negotiate with buyers to get the best price for the final product. Like most businesses, they also had to contend with the bank and their suppliers. The winning team was made up of Joanne Dunham (Chapman’s Designer Jewellery), Susan Hawley (Cox Agri), Kim McKie (Tanfield Food Company) and Norma Lowther (Harry Coates & Son butchers). Joanne Dunham, shop manager at the Durham branch of Chapman’s Designer Jewellery, felt that the Durham Business Game inspired her to make far-reaching changes to her business. Joanne explained: “The Durham Business Game taught me the importance of planning, organisation and good communication. We learnt that by putting the groundwork in at the beginning and really listening to the customer’s needs, we saved time in the long run and worked more efficiently as a team to deliver a better result. “I can honestly say that the Durham Business Game has helped me become more organised with paperwork and has improved communication among staff, which has brought about some really positive changes in the day-to-day running of the shop. In fact, I think we have made more changes over the last year than we have since the shop first opened.” The Durham Business Game forms part of the Key Employee Programme – a series of one-day workshops where participants learn in a group interactive environment, along with individuals from other companies. Susan Hawley from Stanley-based Cox Agri, believes the Durham Business Game has given her insight into her own business style and how to encourage colleagues: “The Durham Business Game has provided me with different ways to solve problems and generate new ideas using the tools we developed on the course. “It has also taught me that to involve people is a great way to motivate others and makes completing your work much easier! Susan added: “My communication with everyone on different levels has also benefited which makes life much more easier if everyone knows what is expected of them.” Rachel Orange, who manages the Key Employee Programme, has received an excellent response from all participants in the Durham Business Game, whether or not they were on the winning side. She said: “One of the aims of the initiative is to enable small business employees to respond to real business challenges and opportunities in a constructive and positive manner. “By gaining an understanding of business issues and pressures, I hope that all our participants can put what they’ve learnt into their work – which is why the Durham Business Game is such a useful tool. “Both teams threw themselves into the challenge of the Durham Business Game and I’m delighted that they have been able to apply what they’ve learnt to their everyday business situations.”