Beyond just talking strategy: using gaming simulations to catalyze airline managers' buy-in to novel strategies that can shape or adapt to profit cyclicality

Langley, P. 2023. Beyond just talking strategy: using gaming simulations to catalyze airline managers' buy-in to novel strategies that can shape or adapt to profit cyclicality. Systemic Practice and Action Research. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-023-09650-2

TitleBeyond just talking strategy: using gaming simulations to catalyze airline managers' buy-in to novel strategies that can shape or adapt to profit cyclicality
TypeJournal article
AuthorsLangley, P.
Abstract

This empirical qualitative study explores the role of gaming simulations in catalyzing changes to organization-wide management’s perspectives on a novel strategy for aircraft orders and retirements. A large US airline developed the new strategy to tackle the pervasive problem of profit cyclicality, driving poor average profit performance across the cycle. Based on the dynamic model used to develop the strategy with senior management, a gaming simulation workshop was designed and delivered in groups of 20 to over 200 organization-wide managers. They tested various strategies for aircraft orders and retirements, under scenarios for market demand and conduct for competitors and regulators.

A qualitative methodology was used to capture the workshop participants’ perspectives on the efficacy of various capacity strategies, before, during and after the workshop. The findings are that managers experiment risk-free with innovations in strategies for capacity orders and retirements and they do indeed discover for themselves that there are counterintuitive alternatives that can achieve large and stable profitable growth. These strategies depend on competitors (role-played by workshops participants in the simulation) cooperating to create a win-win equilibrium. Performance far exceeds the industry benchmark profit cycle.

The contribution is the empirical evidence of the effectiveness of gaming simulations to catalyze managers’ shared beliefs and buy-in to a new strategy or business model. There are implications for practitioners in airlines and other sectors on the use of a gaming simulation workshop toolset, to help create such buy-in for an emerging strategy or business model. Protocols for best practice gaming simulation workshop design are discussed.

KeywordsAirline cyclicality
dynamic complexity
gaming simulations
gaming to learn
management buy-in
strategic decision-making
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
ISSN1573-9295
Year2023
PublisherSpringer
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-023-09650-2
PubMed ID37359403
Publication dates
Published online10 Jun 2023

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