Overview of OFMOS [Archive of the 2018 Crowdfunding Campaign]

 

[Original campaign page here]


OFMOS - Be the CEO

Play it like your favorite strategy game, or use it as a simulation to make business learning more meaningful and more accessible.


About

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What do you get if you throw a Chess set and a business book into a blender? What about mixing Chess and Monopoly? :)

A game-changing game? Why not?... Come with me!

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OFMOS is a fun strategy game and business simulation for 2 to 4 players. When taken seriously, it is a tool that makes business learning more meaningful and more accessible. A tool for success in a brave new world, in which the nature of employment and education is quickly becoming less clear.

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OFMOS is well suited for families with teens, who want to connect or start exploring the complexities of the business world. In schools and corporate academies, the game brings significant value to the table (literally) as a complement to the existing programs.

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1. THE SETUP: Each player (2 to 4) is assigned a company consisting of 18 products/ofmos that need to be launched (9 triangles, 6 squares, 3 pentagons) and a budget of $150 (think millions). The rest of the money is placed in a common pool. And the board is placed in the middle, as a battleground, on which the products will be mapped along their two dimensions: the product’s complexity (triangle represents low complexity; for example, a bike is less complex than a car) and the product’s perceived value/utility (one notch represents low value).

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2. THE OFMOS: Each piece in the game represents an ofmos (offering-market cosmos, a sort of hybrid between a business unit and a market segment) or, for simplicity, the product that defines an ofmos. The triangle products can be thought of as bikes, the square products could be cars, and the pentagons might be planes.

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3. THE COMPANY'S EXPANSION: Each player has to take his/her company through its entire life cycle, which starts with the Expansion. During this stage, all 18 products must be launched. By rolling two dice (complexity and value), the players take turns to select one of the nine areas on the board to launch a product. The selected area indicates the product type that can be launched there and the required investment.

Here, luck plays a significant role in the player’s performance, just like it would happen with a new CEO and a new company. Although a player can choose to take other actions, such as operating (move piece) or retiring a product (remove piece from the board), the Expansion stage will only end when all 18 products have been launched.

PRO TIPS: Don't rush with launching your products. Has the roll of dice given you the best position to launch? Should you focus on products that are already on the board? Can you start creating synergies (alignments), the heavy artillery of your approach to generating more cash?

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4. THE COMPANY'S RESTRUCTURING: The value/utility of a product drops over time, lowering the profits as well. The CEO then must retire some of the low-performing products and replace them with new products that promise higher profits. Enter the Restructuring stage. Your goal is to make two such conversions. Less dependent on luck, which is a sign of a CEO that has grown professionally, you will roll only one die at this stage. The Restructuring ends when all the new products added through the conversions are launched.

PRO TIPS: Be mindful when you choose between the two dice. Are they both giving you the same odds/probability of taking a desired action?

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5. THE COMPANY'S CONCLUSION: Once a player enters the company’s last stage, the Conclusion, luck is not a factor anymore. No more dice rolling. The main goal is to retire all products. And when any of the players retires his/her last product, the game is over. The CEO with the most money on the table wins.

PRO TIPS: Should you rush to retire all of your products? Can you create additional synergies that will bring in more cash?

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And that's it!

That was your journey as a CEO. In it, you were exposed to the concepts of valuecommoditizationinnovationsynergy, and several others. Just like that. ;)

For more, check out the cheatsheet and the "how to play" video guide and the INSTRUCTIONS documents below:

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EXTENDED VERSION ]

In 2013, in an interview with strategy+business, Harvard Business School professor Cynthia Montgomery stated that, “Today, Harvard doesn’t even have a course called General Management. Nor do most other business schools. Many students have come to view entrepreneurial management courses as the capstone experience of the MBA curriculum, where you learn about defining businesses, moving them through growth, changing course, and doing it again. But entrepreneurship courses don’t teach people how to run a large company; they teach them how to create and finance a startup.”

The fact that our society is missing a “business big picture” theory is not noticed by many. But most people are directly impacted by its effects: 1) lack of a meaningful way to assemble the knowledge that they receive, and 2) reduced accessibility of the knowledge.

Now, given that we are flooded with online content, the second issue might seem counterintuitive. And that’s because it refers to both availability and difficulty, which are actually connected. The simpler a subject matter, the more ways to package it, and the broader the audience. Even though Business is the most popular bachelor’s degree in the United States, those graduates represent only a small fraction of the entire population.

Because of these limitations, most people don't go far beyond the basics, a long way from the highest levels of understanding that would be possible even with the current business and economic insights. However, with the employment and the education environment becoming less reliable, more and more people will have to push past these barriers on their own to develop the knowledge that will allow them to succeed in the brave new world.

And why not doing so while having some fun? :)

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EXTENDED VERSION ]

Speaking of fun... If you love the excitement of managing resources in Catan, the thrill of making money in Monopoly, and the exhilaration of strategizing in Chess, then you will love OFMOS.

But, wait, there’s more. :)

The age-old “trick” for taking a person’s understanding of the world to the next level is to focus on fundamentals. Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla), Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway), Albert Einstein (the relativity guy), and others have advocated for it.

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And that's what we have here: a fundamental theory of business, underlying a set of simple game mechanics. The OFMOS solution.

Developed over the past fifteen years, the theory was built by using a bottom-up approach, which means that it starts with the behavior of one individual and then it moves up to describe how businesses and economies behave. Detailed in some of my publications, and particularly in the book Spointra (2007, 2013) and the draft Afterword, the fundamental theory is actually a set of interconnected theories, progressing from a theory of needs, to the fundamental forces in business (commoditization and innovation), to corporate strategy, and even to a macroeconomic model.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about these theories right now (unless you want to). They have been translated into simple game mechanics. And that’s the beauty of it! By playing OFMOS, you’ll gradually start asking the right questions, and do the “digging” later.

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By instantly showing you the big picture, the OFMOS solution makes business learning more meaningful and more accessible. For those new to business, it provides a scaffolding, on which all new knowledge can be placed. And for those with more experience, it provides an umbrella to unify all of their existing knowledge.

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EXTENDED VERSION ]

In 1967, the economist Herbert A. Simon published his influential paper The Business School - A Problem in Organizational Design, in which he explained that, driven by an inherent tendency to separate science (discipline orientation) from art (practice orientation), "the natural equilibrium of a professional school is mediocrity and futility".

And so, in 2018, we are witnessing a growing trend in which the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, the crown jewel of business education, is giving way to narrower specializations. "A growing number of institutions are rejecting the traditional two-year courses," finds the Financial Times:

"A decade ago, he decided not to offer an MBA because employers told him they wanted to hire students straight out of university, in order to develop them through internal training programmes. MBA students, who typically spend several years working before attending business school, were considered 'less malleable', Mr Estrin says. Employers 'wanted more specific sets of skills, such as critical thinking'."

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So what exactly are we talking about here? :)

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Some plastic, some chipboard... Although the set presented here comes very close to the envisioned product, it is still a prototype. The details of the final design will be decided upon after the Kickstarter campaign.

And what's in the box?

  • 1x BOARD, double-sided (Side 1 for Normal Mode, and Side 2 for Scenario 'Cars' Mode)
  • 2x (or 4x) Set of 18x OFMOS (9x Triangles, 6x Squares, 3x Pentagons)
  • 1x Set of 2x DICE (1x Complexity Die, 1x Value Die)
  • 1x Set of 90x MONEY Chips (40x $1, 40x $10, 10x $100)
  • 1x Set of INSTRUCTIONS (Brief and Detailed) 
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1. BOARD: The board is double-sided, with Side 1 for the Normal Mode of play and Side 2 for the Scenario 'Cars' Mode of play. Made of chipboard, it measures approximately 280 x 280 mm (11 x 11 inches).

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2. OFMOS PIECES: The ofmos pieces are the building blocks of your company. Each player receives a set of 18x ofmos or products (9x triangles, 6x squares, and 3x pentagons). When you play the game in the Normal Mode, think of them as bikes, cars, and planes. In the 'Cars' scenario, they represent 9x small cars, 6x midsize cars, and 3x large cars.

Made of plastic, the ofmos pieces will have a base of approximately 20 mm (0.8 inches) in diameter and a height of approximately 20 mm (0.8 inches). Depending on the number of pre-orders, the hope is to increase the height to approximately 35 mm (1.4 inches). :)

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3. DICE: The two dice needed for the game of OFMOS are the product's complexity die and the product's value die. One determines the complexity level (triangle, square, or pentagon) and the other determines the value level (one notch, two notches, three notches). They are both made of plastic. ...And they are not loaded. ;)

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4. MONEY CHIPS: The set of money comes with both the 2-player game set and the 4-player game set contains 90x chips (40x $1 chip, 40x $10 chip, 10x $100 chip).

Made of chipboard, the $1 chip will have a diameter of approximately 35 mm (1.4 inches), the $10 chip will have a width of approximately 55 mm (2.2 inches) and a height of approximately 35 mm (1.4 inches), and the $100 chip will have a width of 75 mm (3 inches) and a height of approximately 35 mm (1.4 inches). Depending on the number of pre-orders, the hope is to make the money chips out of plastic.

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5. INSTRUCTIONS: There are two instructions documents. Brief and Detailed. As with the rest of the game set, they will be further refined for the final product. The latest version is available in the section INSTRUCTIONS at ofmos.com.

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To get a feel for how all these components come together in play, several sessions with Cristian's commentary (like the one below) are available in the section SESSIONS at ofmos.com.

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1. OFMOS STICKER: This large square sticks, featuring the OFMOS logo, is made of vinyl, for outdoors and indoors use. Its size will be approximately 102 x 102 mm (4 x 4 inches).

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2. OFMOS HOODIE: The grey pullover hoodie with the OFMOS logo will make a walk in the park a walk in the park. :)

And, like with all pledge levels, your name will be memorialized on a web page dedicated to the supporters of the game's very first edition.

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3. 'CARS' OFMOS SET FOR 2 PLAYERS: The game set for 2 players includes the box, the one-sided board ('Cars' Scenario only), two sets of ofmos pieces (small), a set of two dice, one set of ninety money chips, and two instructions documents (brief and detailed).

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While the final illustration for the 'Cars' scenario layer will be determined later, the following two scenario layer explorations provide a general idea of how the board will look like.

In the first example, you are Elon Musk, running your own Tesla company. :)

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In the second example, you are the CEO of a truck company, using the Dodge RAM trucks as reference for your long-term corporate strategy. 

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And, like with all pledge levels, for your support, your name will be memorialized on a web page dedicated to the supporters of the game's very first edition.

4. OFMOS GAME SET FOR 2 PLAYERS: The game set for 2 players includes the box, the double-sided board, two sets of ofmos pieces, a set of two dice, one set of ninety money chips, and two instructions documents (brief and detailed).

And, like with all pledge levels, your name will be memorialized on a web page dedicated to the supporters of the game's very first edition.

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5. OFMOS GAME SET FOR 4 PLAYERS: The game set for 4 players includes the box, the double-sided board, four sets of ofmos pieces, a set of two dice, one set of ninety money chips, and two instructions documents (brief and detailed).

And, like with all pledge levels, your name will be memorialized on a web page dedicated to the supporters of the game's very first edition.

6. OFMOS GAME SET FOR 4 PLAYERS + OFMOS HOODIE: The game set for 4 players includes the box, the double-sided board, four sets of ofmos pieces, a set of two dice, one set of ninety money chips, and two instructions documents (brief and detailed). In addition, at this pledge level, the reward includes the fabulous OFMOS hoodie. :)

And, like with all pledge levels, your name will be memorialized on a web page dedicated to the supporters of the game's very first edition.

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The main goal here is to create a product that will offer an amazing experience. Although there are no specific funding targets, at this time, the push for a better final product will be relentless. 

Sometime in the future, we also hope to be able to build a video game. Below, you can watch a short run-through (music by Kai Engel) with an earlier vis game prototype.

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Cristian Mitreanu is a business professional with over 20 years of experience... Other than that, a bit of a car guy, some soccer/football, and (strangely enough) a passion for explanatory theories.

Besides OFMOS (did I tell you about the game?), it's worth mentioning my management picture book Spointra and the Secret of Business Success, the fact that I founded TEDxUIUC, and my article in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

And, some might say, I am also a failed stand-up comedian... Watch me (trying to) take a shot at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its branding. ;)

Risks and challenges

This is my first Kickstarter campaign, so there might be some unknowns that naturally tend to sneak in. To minimize these risks, I will be working only with well-established manufacturers and fulfillment services. Also, the game needs some post-campaign final touches, an additional time that I tried to account for. Of course, I will be keeping all the backers well informed about the progress we are making. My goal is to beat the schedule, so that you can still think of your reward as a late holiday gift, to yourself or to someone you care about. :)




UPDATES

Update #1 (May 31, 2018): The Board Game BEING ELON MUSK - A Possibility... and a Plea to Elon Musk

Hello,

Earlier today, we have reached out to Elon Musk with the proposition of creating the board game BEING ELON MUSK, as one of the rewards for this project. Also, we proposed the replacement of the 'Cars' scenario layer with a Tesla board.

More on this plea with Elon Musk can be found in the blog post The Board Game BEING ELON MUSK - A Possibility... and a Plea to Elon Musk.

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If you think that this could be cool development, let's spread the word on social media to make it happen.

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Thank you.

Cristian


Update #2 (June 4, 2018): Added a Cars-scenario-only game set as a new reward ($49)

Hello backers,

Just wanted to let you know that we just added a new reward: a cars-scenario-only game set available with a pledge of $49. While the final design for the 'Cars' scenario layer will be determined later, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a new scenario layer exploration that shows another possibility in which the game can be played.

Just in case you want to run your own truck company, you can use some of Dodge's trucks as reference... 

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Thank you.

Cristian


Update #3 (June 6, 2018): Just released an Instructions Cheatsheet for an "at a glance" overview of the game

Hello,

Just wanted to let everybody know that we have just released an In striations Cheatsheet, which is basically a one-pager with all there is to know about the OFMOS gameplay. An image was added to the Kickstarter project description and, for convenience, we copied it here as well. As mentioned before, the most recent instructions documents will always be available at https://www.ofmos.com/instructions/.

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Thank you.

Cristian


Update #4 (June 19, 2018): Learning powered by OFMOS: A New Perspective on the Evolution of Porsche 911 (What is Commoditization?)

Hello backers and visitors,

I wanted to share an example of a brief learning session powered by OFMOS, with more to come. Please feel free to distribute on social media.

A bit of disambiguation…

Commoditization: the negative force exerted on a product’s perceived value that is driven by the accumulation of knowledge about that product in the marketplace

commoditization: the process in which a product’s value and thus the profit per unit drops, as a result of normal business activity / (with every product sold, the knowledge about that product in the marketplace increases)

All products commoditize, but not all become commodities.

A commoditized product is a product with a lower perceived value relative to its original perceived value.

A commodity is a product with a perceived value positioned at the lower end of the entire value spectrum for all of the products in an economy.

A commoditized product may or may not be a commodity. But a commodity is always a commoditized product.

(The term product is used here in a broader sense, covering all types of offerings.)

===

A more detailed account of this particular understanding of the concept of perceived value is available in the 2007 paper A Business-Relevant View of Human Nature.

Thank you.

Cristian


Update #5 (June 26, 2018): Sneak peek of a new Sales framework and a new edition of OFMOS (for sales professionals)

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More info to come...

Thank you.

Cristian


Update #6 (June 28, 2018): One more scenario layer exploration - The Robo-Assistants Company

Hello backers and visitors,

Just wanted to share another development, another scenario layer exploration... Here, you are running a company that offers Robo-Assistants... Three types of personal robo-assistants: Robo I, Robo II, and Robo III... In each market, and depending on how long you've been there, the skills of these assistants could be perceived as Gold (best-in-class), Silver, or Bronze...

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Again, the use of copyrighted imagery is for illustrative purposes only. The commercial versions will be fully illustrated from scratch.

Thanks.

Cristian


[The crowdfunding campaign was active on Kickstarter for 49 days, from May 22nd until July 10th of 2018. The funding goal was $25,000, but only 22% was pledged towards it.]

 
Cristian Mitreanu