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Harvard Business Publishing Serious Game For Managing Innovation

Innovation Simulation: Breaking News, a ‘Serious Game’ from Harvard Business Publishing about managing innovation, has won gold honors in the 2018 International Serious Play Awards competition in Education Corporate category.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Business Publishing is a leading provider of teaching materials for management education. HBP-Higher Education offerings include ‘Serious Games & Sims’, departing from the background assumption they are powerful learning experiences that use real-world contexts to reinforce student learning.

There are currently 35 simulations available in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Finance, Marketing, Negotiation, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior and Strategy, ranging in seat time from 20 minutes to multiple hours.

In the 20 to 30 minute simulation Innovation Simulation: Breaking News, students manage the innovation process for The Citizen Sun, a struggling newspaper company.

The Story
Once a thriving news outlet, The Citizen Sun has been struggling in recent years due to smartphones and social media. After receiving a mandate from the company’s CEO, you are tasked with developing new ideas to bolster sales, counter declining subscriptions, and improve your web presence. Working within the constraints of limited budget and time, you must produce a list of potential
innovations and present the best idea to the CEO.

Players must generate a list of potential innovations such as design open innovation campaigns, focus groups, and R&D projects. After narrowing down a selection of new ideas, players are tasked with choosing the best possible innovation for the news organization.

Introduction — Students prepare by learning about The Citizen Sun’s history, organization, and current challenges. They also receive a mandate from the CEO explaining the task at hand.

Limited Resources — Students have 12 weeks and $50,000 in internal and external resources to find the best possible innovation for the organization.

Four Mandates — Different students receive slightly different versions of this initial mandate, each representing different levels of organizational risk-tolerance and specificity of the problem presented. In the debrief, the instructor may explore the different choices made by students who were given different initial ‘missions’.

Sourcing Ideas — Students choose from among 12 possible types of innovation initiatives—open innovation campaigns, internal R&D projects, external consulting—to generate a pool of new ideas for the organization. In many cases, students can customize the initiative’s target audience and incentives offered.

Results — After running the initiative, a subset of innovation ideas are revealed to the student. Based on the initiative run, results will vary in quantity and quality.

Evaluating and Selecting An Idea — Students evaluate the available ideas, testing them if needed, and submit their recommended innovation to the CEO.

Results — At the end of the simulation, a Results screen summarizes the different types of innovation used—as well as the quantity and quality of new ideas generated by each initiative. Students also receive feedback from the CEO about their final submitted idea.

Administration Reporting and Debrief — Administrators have a variety of features and tools at their disposal, including simulation customization options, detailed reporting screens, debrief PowerPoint slides, a comprehensive Teaching Note, and author commentary videos.

Aimed at undergraduate, graduate, or professional students studying innovation, the “Serious Game” teaches students about the challenges of innovation management, the tradeoffs between different types of innovation, the role of organizational context in innovation, and the potential of open innovation. It has been used in a wide variety of classroom contexts, from entrepreneurship and marketing courses to courses on management, leadership, strategy, and organizational behavior.

Developed by Tucker Marion, Sebastian Fixson, Harvard Business School Publishing, and Forio, this simulation meets WCAG 2.0 Level AA Accessibility Guidelines

Registered Educators can request a free trial at