Chief Executive!

Chief Executive! (aka ‘All hail to the thief’) is an on-line simulation game. It is currently, as they say, “under preparation”.

There are any number of clever macroeconomic games and business simulation models – the natural realm of MBAers – some of which are now becoming mainline. But these focus understandably on enterprise targets such as increasing profits and market shares, and share a limited focus an simple internal decision-making unsullied by politics or selfishness.

There is less literature on public sector institutional and organisational reform, and even fewer accessible (i.e. tolerably readable) management books dealing with public sector reform in developing countries, where managers have to confront and deal with issues such as patronage, corruption, and state capture, and in countries trying to cope with myriad demands concerning growth strategies, poverty reduction, structural adjustment, climate change, and managing natural resources.

The idea for Chief Executive! came while reading Craig Hickman’s “The Organization Game” (1994, Prentice Hall). This has an innovative event-driven interactive format, with decisions leading to alternative outcomes and further successes – or not. At the same time my children were starting to play games such as The Sims, and my boss Bill Mullens was playing Football Manager, and I quite enjoyed strategy games like Economic Warfare (which – in a delightful irrational exuberance fashion exalts you to “lie, cheat and steal your way to victory”). Radiohead were also enjoying some success and the lyrics of 2+2=5 seemed particularly apposite:

Are you such a dreamer?
To put the world to rights?
I’ll stay home forever
Where two & two always
makes up five – – –

“All hail to the thief”
“But I am not!”
“Don’t question my authority
or put me in the dock”
Go & tell the king that
The sky is falling in
When it’s not
Maybe not.

Simulation gaming seemed the way to bring the literature to managers, decision-makers and students alike. This is what Chief Executive! attempts. Here are some of the books that are in my Chief Executive! library:

  • “What management Is. How it works and why its everyone’s business” by Joan Magretta (2002)
  • “Handbook of Management”, Financial Times (3rd Ed, 2004)
  • “The Business of Economics” by John Kay (1996)
  • “The Dilbert Principle” by Scott Adams (1996)
  • “The Economics of Innocent Fraud: Truth for our time” by J.K.Galbraith (2004)
  • “Execution. The discipline of getting things done” by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan (2002)
  • “Strategy Maps” by Robert Kaplan & David Norton (2004)
  • “The Business of Sustainable Forestry. Strategies for an Industry in Transition” by Michael Jenkins & Emily Smith (1999)
  • “The Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford (2006)
  • “A Good African Story. How a small company built a global coffee brand” by Andrew Rugasira (2013) (blog post here)
  • The Three Laws of Performance by Steve Zaffron & Dave Logan (2009)