Consulting Simulation

Note: The Consulting Simulation is an eight-week long collaborative project in an undergraduate Professional Writing course.

[ Course Syllabus | Schedule ]

Welcome to The Consulting Simulation.

The Consulting Simulation asks you to work collaboratively with three or four other students. In this simulation, you and your team work as business consultants.

Over an eight-week period, you and your team investigate a problem. Your goal is to

  • investigate a problem
  • identify possible solutions to the problem
  • evaluate potential solutions
  • write a Recommendation Report

A Note about Consulting in the Workplace

This Consulting Simulation simulates the kind of work employees would do in the consulting industry. 

Consulting is the business of providing expert advice to a group of people. And consulting is a big business in the US and internationally. In the US alone, consulting was a $68.5 billion dollar industry in 2018. Consultants draw on their own expertise and analytical skills to help identify and define problems, do research, and recommend strategies or solutions. They must have excellent research skills; strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills; be able to tailor information to persuade specific audiences; and have crackerjack presentation skills. They do most of their work in teams.

There are three broad categories of consulting: 
1. management consulting
2. corporate consulting
3. independent consulting

Assignment Guidelines

Deliverables

Exercises

  1. Problem Definition Assignment (individually authored) [not graded]
  2. Pitch Assignment (individually authored) [Grade Weight: 5%]
  3. Team Charter Exercise [Grade Weight: 5%]
  4. Team Workplace Guidelines [not graded]
  5. Research Summaries Exercise [Grade Weight: 5%]
  6. Empirical Research Exercise [Grade Weight: 5%]

Major Projects

  1. Research Proposal Assignment [Grade Weight: 20%]
  2. Progress Report & Presentation [Grade Weight: 20%]
  3. Recommendation Report Assignment [Grade Weight: 20%]
  4. Team Evaluation Memo (individually authored) [Grade Weight: 20%]
    1. Links to Project Members’ Research Notebooks

Overview of Tasks

  1. Reflect on problems and potential solutions
  2. Pitch to your team your idea to solve a problem or develop a new application or service
  3. Meet as a Team. Use Teams or ZOOM or whatever channel your teammates prefer. Introduce yourselves. Talk about one another’s problem definitions and pitches. What problems most interest the group, match up well with the members’ competencies?
  4. Following the meeting, finalize and submit Team Charter.
    1. Hold meetings weekly for the remainder of the Consulting Simulation
    2. Adjust the Team Charter as necessary to reflect team goals and deadlines
  5. Submit the Research Proposal Assignment
  6. Engage in Textual Research; submit the Research Summaries Exercise
  7. Upload the URL for your Team Workspace
  8. Engage in Empirical Research; submit the Empirical Research Exercise
  9. Submit Progress Report & Presentation
    • As a team, upload the Front Half of the Recommendation Report
    • As a team, record a video presentation with slides
  10. Engage in peer reviews of two other teams’ Progress Report & Presentations
  11. Submit the recommendation report
  12. Submit Team Evaluation Memo

Student Learning Outcomes

Most generally, the primary goals for this project are

  1. encourage reflection about a teamwork project from the perspective of research and theory on collaboration
  2. help students learn to reflect reflect on a collaborative project is to help students improve their interpersonal competencies.

More specifically, this project

  • provides students with the opportunity to compose using workplace genres, particularly memos, client proposals, research proposals, progress reports, recommendation reports, and evaluation memos.
  • helps students master the interpersonal competencies prized by employers, such as goal setting, planning, task coordination, conflict resolution, and performance monitoring competencies.

Students

  • negotiate and manage conflicts that arise during the conduct of the simulation. Hopefully, this will better prepare students to co-author or work on a teams.
  • develop strategies for fostering successful co-authorships. accept critique professionally rather than personally.

Assignment Guidelines

Context

The Consulting Simulation is the 2nd major project in Professional Writing, an undergraduate writing course on workplace writing.

Within those categories, however, consultants provide advice on everything from business strategy and IT to communications and the environment. If you’re interested in the range of consulting careers, you may enjoy this article and video

Throughout this module, you’ll act as a member of a research consulting team to:

  1. Identify a client and define a business need or problem*
  2. Research potential solutions for the problem
  3. Analyze your research findings
  4. Synthesize the findings into conclusions
  5. Identify and evaluate solutions to the problem based on the conclusions drawn from your findings
  6. Present your solutions in a recommendation report directed to the client

*Note: We’re defining “business” very loosely here. Business could be anything from your little sister’s after-school lawnmowing service to your local PTA, a church, school, neighborhood or civic group, or a group of folks you know with a similar set of interests or hobbies.

Rationale for Project 2

Collaboration is characterized by educators, cognitive psychologists, and learning scientists as one of two co-cluster of competencies that constitute the interpersonal domain: Teamwork/Collaboration & Leadership.

As discussed in 21st Century Literacies: Cognitive, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal Competencies, “the interpersonal domain involves expressing ideas, and interpreting and responding to messages from others.”

Team projects and collaboration play a vital role in a majority of careers, ranging from engineering to business to medicine. Collaboration occurs in projects that are large and small, high-stakes and low-stakes (a bridge project, sharing new research), but it is still common in nearly every field. This consulting simulation helps you build your collaboration skills while working in a distributed team.