Forty-eight hours after coming fresh and eager to the table, Sajeeve Bahl and Wilfried Raunikar lay down their cards, the one victorious, the other bankrupt. Yet Bahl, 33, an internal education director for Oracle's Europe, Middle East, and Africa division, won't return to work flush. And Raunikar, 41, education director for that unit's customers, won't go home to Vienna broke. Instead, each will leave with a new appreciation for the value of intangible assets — courtesy of Tango, the latest simulation from Celemi, a Swedish learning firm.
The simulation set-up is simple: at a corporate off-site, usually with the help of a facilitator, six "companies" of 4 to 6 players convene for two days to compete for "employees" and "customers." In this case, 25 of Oracle's European education directors gathered for a game of Tango in a spare auditorium in Munich. The twist? You win by leveraging your company's hidden sources of value. Players link the health of their enterprise to investments in two critical intangible assets: "Image Value"— embodied in "coins" gained by satisfying customers, and "Know-how Value" — tracked on a chart of employee competencies and R&D investment levels.
Raunikar spent too heavily on employee competencies that his customers didn't value. That left him unable to make his payroll and his company vulnerable to takeover. The traditional balance sheet took its toll. Raunikar was out of the game but resolved to "look at the financial part of my business much more carefully."
Bahl, on the other hand, started the game with his eye on the bottom line. He quickly learned to spot "critical indicators such as know-how, personnel drivers, and financing levels." Bahl has since applied these lessons to his $20 million training and development budget for 10,000 employees.
Tango has become serious sport for Oracle — by the end of 1996, nearly 1,000 employees in the United States and Europe will have played the game.
Coordinates: Celemi at 860-651-7595, Bahl at firstname.lastname@example.org. com, and Raunikar at email@example.com
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1996 issue of Fast Company magazine.