Broad company management skills are often conspicuously lacking in
the building industry - yet they are as important in this field as any
other. While great emphasis has been placed on practical building management
very little has been done to teach management in a wider sense.
In an attempt to correct this situation, Peter Lansley of
Management Reality has developed a computer simulation system called Arousal.
This system - first marketed in the UK two years ago - is aimed at assisting
in the development of managers and in evaluating the potential costs and
benefits of different business and organisational strategies.
The system has won Management Reality first place in the
information technology class of the 1987 Building Innovation awards.
At the heart of the system is a case study of a real firrn
and a computer model of its business activities. Unlike many computer models,
which are restricted to handling financial, marketing and production issues,
Arousal recognises the interplay between strategic and operational decisions
and the human side of business.
It generates much of the information which would usually
be available to managers and enables them to handle both it and the embedded
issues as they would be in practice.
"The prime reason for developing Arousal was to provide
firms with a powerful tool for handling those issues which arise from the
complexity of business and organisational life", said Lansley.
Originally it was envisaged that such a tool could be used
in three main ways: as a key learning vehicle on management courses; for
coaching individual managers; and as an input to corporate appraisal.
"However, during the past two years, Arousal's uses have
been extended to include team building and leadership development; management
of change; information systems development; and staff induction",
The Arousal philosophy was conceived by Lansley in 1980 while
employed at Ashridge Management College. Drawing on more than a decade
of research and consultancy into the factors underlying commercial success
in the construction industry, three prototype versions of Arousal were
With the help of various companies in the construction sector,
the prototypes were tested between 1981 and 1984 when basic development
work was complete. Subsequent development and promotion of the system has
been carried out by Management Reality.
The Arousal system comprises: an audio-visual and written
description of the background and current status of the firm which has
been modelled; a computer-based information and decision processing system
which is used to obtain information about the firm and its market environment
record decisions about the how the firm is to be managed and store and
report information produced during operations; a guide for instructors
on how to use the system for training and development courses.
The system runs on IBM-PCs and compatible microcomputers
with 256K RAM.
"The Arousal system has pioneered corporate simulation in the
building industry and is aimed essentially at organisational and management
development, not only in general terms but also in the context of the firm."
"It is a superb innovation aimed at stimulating new ways of thinking
and of approach in the work of participants. The system has already been
used by a number of firms in the UK and the USA and has proved a valuable
part of their training programme."
Scanned from Building supplement, 16 January 1987