34 Years Ago Today – I Pilot Tested a Huge Simulation Exercise

Background

The project addressed the 800 soon to become 1000+ Product Managers of AT&T Network Systems (formerly Western Electric) after divestiture – the ending of the monopoly of Ma Bell – in their 4 (then 5) Strategic Business Units (SBUs).

It was 1986 when the CAD effort – the Curriculum Architecture Design effort, was conducted. The stakes were high.

Bringing the right products to market in an ever evolving arena of technology growth and change – and killing off quickly or slowly (depending on contractual agreements and use elsewhere for some products and components) other products – called product line pruning – was critical to survival.

No longer would the organization tell the Customers (the dozens and dozens of Bell Operating Companies) what products they would be implementing in the coming year and years – as Bell Labs cranked out new stuff and the BOCs implemented them.

An extensive analysis was conducted. A T&D Path – or rather a Menu – was created to share across the various levels of Product management (Product Planners, Product Managers, Product Directors, etc.) and across those 4 then 5 SBUs. A Planning Guide and video was produced for the 1st module on the Path/Menu.

After that CAD effort, I was tasked with creating most of the Modules of the 1000 Series, including the Keystone Event – the last of the 1000 Series: NS1251: Product Management Process Training – Basic Skills. An 8-day course, that was 10 days in length for the Pilot Test version – due primarily to the extensive feedback evaluations and sessions conducted throughout.

The Simulation Exercise was conducted in 5 Phases, with 5 Rounds per Phase, where the 20 people were divided into 2 groups of 10 and then further divided into 2-person teams to play the various roles in a series of Product Team Meetings that brought up the typical issues from each stage/phase of the Product Life Cycle – including Discontinuation.

To read my 2012 Blog Post that told the rest of this story, please go – here.

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