President of Simulation Studios, where he utilizes business simulations within the top global corporations.

It’s hard to argue against the fact that times have changed so greatly in such a short amount of time. For example, in the first half of 2020, the market experienced its worst first quarter ever, with volatility that makes even the Great Depression seem calm. Not only has the market become a source of uncertainty, but future consumer buying habits are also up for grabs. Many companies have been forced to make systemic changes to their corporate strategy. In a recent Forbes article titled “A CEO Cheatsheet for Business Strategy After Covid-19,” Bob Zukis writes, “While every company regularly makes changes within their business system to optimize, react and respond to opportunity and threat, they rarely make wholesale changes to their entire business system.”

Most companies are good at frequent strategic change initiatives; most have an exceedingly challenging time with large, systemic strategic change initiatives. Couple this with the fact that the change is happening so rapidly and with great uncertainty, and the need to build a system of strategic change acceleration has become critical. Companies are being forced to build strong strategic resilience, business acumen and strategic thinking into the corporate culture. This is not an easy task to accomplish in short order.

Some of the most successful global companies have been using the highly effective combination of business training simulation and employee development to successfully build strategic resilience, applicable business acumen and applicable strategic thinking into corporate cultures. Many companies don’t know these tools even exist. This one-two-punch method of accelerating change is not new, but accessibility to these tools has historically been a high wall for medium- to small-sized organizations to gain access. This has changed significantly over the last five years. In full disclosure, I create and facilitate business training simulations for some of the top companies globally. If they didn’t work, I wouldn’t use them.

Business training simulations for strategic acceleration are tricky tools to successfully utilize. If a company isn’t careful, it can find itself with an overcomplicated and hard-to-sustain solution that quickly becomes expensive and challenging to effectively utilize. Thus, here are three tips to ensure you are using business training simulations correctly:

1. Start Small With The Business Training Simulation

This is very important. Large-scale, multi-day monster business training simulations are very rarely needed. In reality, large-scale business training simulations can actually cause problems. Large solutions tend to be about the solution more than the outcomes, which causes outcome confusion and challenges application. Highly compact and extremely focused solutions are more effective in most every scenario. Start small with the business training simulation to help ensure greater applicability and success. Anything over a single day of usage is probably too large.

2. Use Within Leadership Development

Utilize the business training simulation and employee development combination within the company’s leadership development initiatives. This is far and away the most effective channel to roll out a business training simulation that is focused on strategic acceleration. Corporate leadership development programs have leaders from various levels and locations within the organization, which enables strategic change to happen more quickly. The result is an acceleration of strategic change due to greater corporate resilience, business acumen and strategic thinking that permeates faster throughout your organization.

3. Executives Should Be Involved

Implementing a business training simulation for strategic acceleration usually fails on its own. These are great tools, but they are most successful when utilized by and with executives. If you choose to architect, build and facilitate a business training simulation on your own, it is important to get facilitation help from internal executives. This fosters a greater depth of reality, applicability and credibility to your solution. If you choose to utilize an outside provider, the solution should be facilitated by executives who have firsthand ownership (i.e., real-world, hands-on ownership experience) implementing strategic change initiatives in the past. Professors and/or career trainers or consultants can work, but outside advisors can sometimes lose credibility and applicability among the participants for obvious reasons.

Utilizing business training simulations and employee development rapidly builds managerial strategic resilience, business acumen and strategic thinking throughout the organization. The hands-on experience very rapidly builds the applicable skills and capabilities needed to rapidly implement strategic change. In the course of a day, these solutions build business acumen, strategic thinking and a natural resilience due to increased capabilities.

Some of the most successful global companies use these tools on a daily basis. Thanks to modern platform-development tools, highly customized solutions are no longer needed. If a simulation provider says you need a custom solution, ask around. Platform technologies have drastically reduced development time and complexity, which is extremely helpful for smaller companies to gain access to strategic tools that have traditionally been reserved for only the largest companies globally.

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