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Planning is a very important process in the current competitive business world. According to Tumer and Wolpert (2004), the market has become so competitive that firms are forced to come up with new approaches to managing their activities in a manner that their competitors cannot easily predict. Coevolutionary gaming has come at an appropriate time when firms are struggling to find the best approach through which they can manage their operations. This is because many firms have suffered serious losses in scenarios where they develop plans only to realize that their competitors can easily understand their strategy and counter it very easily. In such cases, a firm would be put in an awkward position trying to develop a different plan to counter that of its competitors who may seem superior in the market. According to Tumer and Wolpert (2004), Coevolutionary gaming refers to a planning approach where top management creates two groups in which one group is responsible for developing new strategies. The other group develops counteroffensive strategies. In this approach, the first group will be forced to develop new strategies every time the second group successfully counters every new strategy. This game may continue for some time until the units learn how to respond to the market competitors every time they master their strategies. Cares and Miskel (2007) say that “Coevolutionary gaming mimics the dynamics fundamental to ecological competition to explore the effects of conflict and cooperation between teams.”
Coevolutionary gaming is fast gaining popularity in the current business environment. The process was first developed by the department of defense of the United States. When managing a small business unit, it is possible to collect data, obtain what the market needs, and develop strategies of providing this need to the market. However, military generals realized that when managing such large organizations as a military unit, such conventional strategies may not apply. This is because the same data that will be collected from the environment is the same data that is available to other competitors. This means that applying such strategies may not yield a competitive edge over other firms in the market. For this matter, it becomes necessary for the management to design approaches that are unique to other competitors. This is what large institutions have embraced in the market today. Cares and Miskel (2007) say that “Just as in real life –where strategic feedback occurs over long time horizons – staggering moves allows these bullwhip effects to fully develop and influence strategic plans.”
This means that management of these large firms must be conscious of the time they take to come up with appropriate strategies within a time limit that will give it a competitive advantage over other firms in the market. In Coevolutionary gaming, communication is a very important tool. When starting the game, it is important for the second group that will be developing strategies to counter the strategies developed by the first group to have a way of getting information about the strategies of the first group. This means that there should be a communication process that will enable this firm to obtain this information. Chun
(2007) says that in this strategy, each group should have a way of obtaining strategies from the other firm in time before the other group can gain a competitive edge. As such, time will be of main importance to both groups. The longer time an organization can take in concealing its strategies from the reach of the competing group, the better. This way, the management of the group, which can conceal information for a long time, will always be considered a victor. To emerge a victor, each group must devise a strategy to obtain information from the other firm within the shortest time possible, while still ensuring that its information is concealed away from the competitor. This is exactly what the firm will be expected to do when it goes to the market. In the market, the firm will have the two groups which will now work as a unit, but in their specialized roles. The first group shall have specialized in an offensive role in the market, having practiced it in the firm during the planning process. It will introduce its strategies to the market.
The second group shall have specialized in counteroffensive role. When in the market, it is expected that the competitor will respond to the strategies developed by this firm. Given that the first group of management had specialized in responding to such intrusion, it shall devise a new approach to counter the competitor’s response. The second group of management, on the other hand, will be expected to intrude into the strategies used by the competitors. The ultimate aim of this second group would be to eliminate any competitive advantage that this competitor may have due to its current strategies. Their role will also include diverting the attention of the competitors from digging into the strategies of this firm (developed by the first group of management) to finding ways through which they can conceal their strategies. In this manner, this firm would turn from being the aggressor to being the aggressor. This is the best way through which a firm can survive in the current market, a fact that has seen the strategy become very common among the firms in the United States. When a firm turns into an aggressor, its competitors may not have much time attacking it because this may divide their attention. These competitors will focus on how to protect themselves from this aggressor.
This way, the strategies developed by this firm may not easily be intruded upon by the competitors. As Pẽna (2004) says, Coevolutionary gaming will always have an impact on decision biases. Most of the biases in decision making are always as a result of a narrowed thinking. It is always caused by the belief that other firms are either inferior or superior to this firm based on several factors. However, while coevolutionary gaming appreciates the fact that there is a possibility of having superior firms, while others are inferior, it also appreciates that there are dangers of considering a firm as inferior or superior. When the management considers a firm as being superior, it may develop some unnecessary fear as it may feel inferior before that firm. This may easily make it fail to develop strategies to counter such firms because they are considered superior to be beaten in the market. This may not necessarily be true because beating a market leader may not be as difficult as others may think. On the other hand, underrating smaller firms can be very dangerous because they can easily respond to market dynamics, giving them an edge over their competitors in the market.
According to Cares and Miskel (2007), “Often, teams discover fundamental strategies that will work in most of the likely trajectories – but usually not until the third or fourth set of moves. Knowing what they now know, they can write a more effective strategic plan, one that starts three or four steps ahead of the competition.” In what these scholars describe as taking the third step first, the strategy makes it difficult for competitors to mastery of what this firm may be planning in the market. Mańdziuk (2010) says that coevolutionary gaming might, at times impede decision making within a firm. This is because it overemphasizes the possible counteroffensive strategies that may be applied by the competitors. This makes the firm take a lot of time thinking of the possible ways in which competitors will respond to the strategies of this firm, instead of focusing on the needs of the market.
Coevolutionary gaming has become very popular among business units in the current competitive market. This is because competition has become so stiff that competitors are forced to develop ways in which their strategies can be unique. It is only through unique strategies that firms can gain a competitive advantage in the market. This is what coevolutionary gaming offers to firms. Although some critics have faulted this approach as being oversensitive to analyzing the competitors’ responses, the strategy has been considered the most appropriate in managing market competition.
Cares, J. & Miskel, Jim (2007).Take Your Third Move First: A survey of ideas, trends, people, and practices on the business horizon. Harvard Business Review, 21(3), 20-22.
Chun,E. (2007). A co-evolutionary approach to aerial combat games. Toronto: University of Toronto.
Mańdziuk, J. (2010). Knowledge-free and learning-based methods in intelligent game playing. Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Pẽna, R. (2004). Coevolutionary fuzzy modeling. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Tumer, K., & Wolpert, D. (2004). Collectives and the design of complex systems. New York: Springer.