Keeping Up with Gen Z: A Simulating Gen X-perience

Anil J. Philip, President, XIME Society

‘Generation X Business School Faculty’ sounds so young and hep. Young gets struck out quickly since Gen X refers to those born between 1965 and 1981.  My brief journey in academia has been marked by my efforts to stay hep and relevant by using different teaching approaches so as to make learning more effective. 

From day one of my teaching days (about 3 years ago), I ensured that learning was enabled not through one-way communication but a good blend of teaching, peer learning, case studies to stimulate discussion and a heady use of videos which the younger generation enjoys consuming. 

At our institute, some of the faculty members had been using business simulations, but recently under the advice of our group academic advisor, XIME decided to subscribe to Business simulations from Harvard so that we could make the usage broad based. 

So what are Business Simulations? I found a good definition on Business simulations are interactive learning environments that allow participants to experience real-world business situations and systems. Business simulations mimic real-world market variables and conditions to help participants strengthen their engagement with a course by exposing them to situations they may encounter on the job.

I decided it was important to use business simulations to ensure an immersive learning experience, which is key for the dynamic minds of today’s B school students [read Generation Z - born between 1995-2010]

As each generation passes by, with various learning systems, the teaching methods also evolve to cater to that particular generation. Back in my B-school days, the classroom vibe was vastly different. It was a bit of a command-and-control approach. Teaching faculty knowledge was gospel truth at a time when information was a rare commodity, and we had to largely depend on it.  Those days, if the storage capacity in your brain was large and if you wore glasses, well, congratulations, you were practically a genius.

Fast forward to today, smartness is not measured by your accessories. More than the IQ box, you need to tick EQ, SQ and the other Qs to be successful in the business world. Gen Z needs the use of technology in learning. They like learning that is immersive and in byte sizes. Realizing this, my answer lay in using one of the Harvard simulations on Value Proposition for my class on Marketing Fundamentals.

Gen Z has the attention span of a TikTok, and business simulations get that. They're like video games for education, making learning both enjoyable and compelling. As a Gen X-er, embracing this shift towards tech-driven education has allowed me to connect with a generation that speaks a digital language.

As mentioned earlier, Business simulations offer a unique blend of experiential learning, strategic decision-making, and real-world problem-solving. Unlike traditional lectures, simulations actively involve students in realistic business scenarios, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge in a dynamic environment. This hands-on approach is particularly effective in capturing the attention and interest of Gen Z students.

One of the striking features of business simulations is their ability to break down the classroom walls. Students are no longer passive recipients of information but active participants in a simulated business environment. This shift from a spectator to a player role significantly enhances engagement and retention, creating an authentic learning journey.

Business simulations compel students to think critically and make strategic decisions in a risk-free environment. They must navigate complex scenarios, analyse data, and collaborate with peers to achieve business objectives. This process not only deepens their understanding of business concepts but also hones their decision-making skills – a crucial asset in the rapidly evolving business landscape.

So, post my first use of business simulation, the feedback was way better than I had expected. Students loved the practical application of their knowledge. They felt the exercise provided real corporate problems, tested their decision-making skills, and fostered teamwork. All I had to do was point, and they made the path, the journey, and reached their destination.

While the fundamentals of business remain timeless, the approach to teaching has evolved. Business simulations, with their gamification elements, align seamlessly with the preferences of Gen Z. Learning is not just informative but enjoyable. As I look back on my journey and ahead to the future, I find myself at the intersection of tradition and innovation, bridging the generational gap one simulation at a time.

Anil J. Philip

President, XIME Society

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