Management Games for an MBA

management graduates

An MBA course can sometimes become dull with continuous classes, projects, case studies, presentations, group studies and the stress of placement. If there’s one challenge that never seems to go away at business school campuses around the world, it’s how to keep MBA students motivated, interested, and engaged. Do not worry, we are here to rescue you and introduce you to the beautiful world of games that MBA students can play. These games are entertaining and educative at the same time, so students and teachers do not have to worry about precious time being wasted. Management games give a sense of practical applicability of the subject and the concepts that are learnt are inscribed in a better manner when the students have practical experience of the concept. Some examples of such games include:

  1. Building Towers: Form two groups and hand over bundles of newspaper to both. Keep one scissor and tape common between both the groups. Ask them to make the tallest tower within 10 minutes and the one with tallest will be the winning team. This game illustrates how both teams use the available resources, who plays a leader’s role and who are their followers, how they act as a team.
  2. Paper planes: Ask each student to write a couple of questions on a sheet of paper relating to previous lecture. Then each person makes their paper into a paper plane (or crunches it into a paper ball). Divide the class into 2 teams on opposite sides of the room and encourage everyone to chuck their planes at the other team. After a short while, everyone must pick up a plane closest to them, read the question aloud and answer it. This game helps in recalling the topics of the last lecture and engaging everyone.
  3. Beach Ball Toss: Write questions on an inflated beach ball and toss it around the room. Whoever catches the ball has to answer one question written on it. The questions can be fun ones such as what is your favourite dessert or favourite movie or they can be related to a particular MBA lecture.
  4. The I’s Have It! : After a discussion on communication skills, ask the students to find a partner and for the next 2 minutes, they will be allowed to talk about anything in the world they want to discuss. There is, however, one rule – THEY CANNOT USE THE WORD ‘I’. They can do anything else they want; they just can’t say ‘I’. After 2 minutes, discuss how many were able to talk for those 2 minutes without using the said pronoun as instructed? Why do so many of us have difficulty avoiding the use of ‘I’ in conversation? This game would hence illustrate how we tend to be more self-centred than we may have thought, and to demonstrate the importance of focusing on the other person.
  5. management graduatesBack to Back drawing: Invite two people and have them sit back-to-back on a chair. Give one person a picture of a shape and give the other person a pencil and pad of paper. The person holding the picture would give verbal instructions to their partner on how to draw the shape without actually telling the partners what the shape is. After they’ve finished, ask each pair to compare their original shape with the actual drawing, and consider how well did the first person describe the shape, how well did the second person interpret the instructions and were there problems with both the sending and receiving parts of the communication process?
  6. The name game: Split the group into pairs. Instruct each person of the group to think of a famous person and write it secretly on a post-it. Attach the post-it to the head of their partner. In round 1 – take it in turns to ask closed (yes/no) questions. You may continue to ask questions for as long as you receive a ‘yes’. When the answer is no, swap over. E.g. Am I alive, Am I male, Am I a sports person etc. In round 2 – they must take turns to ask one Open or TED (Tell, Explain, Describe) question (with the exception of ‘what is my name’ or similar!). If they mistakenly ask a closed question they lose their turn. At the end of this activity, the key message is that despite the obvious usefulness of questions, for gathering information we find it easier to ask closed questions but if the questions are not right, we may never receive the required answer.
  7. Two truths and a Lie: Ask each person in the class to write three statements and two of them should be true facts and one should be a lie. Each person in the class should read their statements aloud and the rest of the class would guess which one is a lie. At the end of this game, the class would know each other better and in a fun way!
  8. The mixed picture puzzles: Divide the class in two teams and hand them two puzzles but mix some pieces of each puzzle with another one. The team that finishes their puzzle first wins the task. The key part of this game is learning how to collaborate with the other team’s members to fetch their own puzzle pieces.

At the end of the game a student may be asked what management concepts he has learnt from the game. Properly designed games help in ingraining thinking habits, analytical, logical and reasoning capabilities, importance of team work, time management, communication and leadership capabilities. Use of management games can encourage novel and innovative mechanisms for coping with stress.

If it is not possible to play management games during classes, students should be encouraged to play some of these in their free time. One of the best business games available online is at This game provides you an opportunity to create your own business empire and have fun by advancing your skills in management, teamwork and strategic thinking. You will learn to make serious managerial decisions on the fly and learn how to quickly adapt to the market conditions.

Contributed by Shilpa Verma Kansal ( Class of 2006 – 2008IBS GURGAON )

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