By Peter Mulford, Executive Vice President, BTS
Business leaders around the world are turning to customized business simulations to build the alignment, mindset, and capabilities needed to accelerate strategy execution in their companies and realize business results. Business simulations long have been used up front in the strategy formulation process. In the last several years, simulations increasingly have been recognized as an essential tool for successful strategy implementation.
Risky Business Mitigated Through Strategic Business Simulations
When failure to effectively implement a corporate strategy can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, how do you reduce risk and improve performance? Customized business simulations offer an effective solution.
Custom-made simulations are effective because they:
The best simulations provide participants with access to decision tools, resources, and collaboration opportunities that directly mirror real-world applications.
Business Simulations: Moving Corporate Mountains
Here are just a few of the situations for which corporations are turning to simulations to help build strategic alignment and execution capability:
Within minutes of being placed in a simulation, participants are grappling with issues and decisions that they must make — now. A year gets compressed into a several hours. Competition among teams spurs engagement, invention and discovery.
10 Building Blocks for Effective Business Simulations
With more than 25 years of experience building and implementing highly customized simulations for Fortune 500 companies, BTS has developed the 10 critical elements of an effective business simulation:
Better Results, Faster
Well-designed business simulations are proven to significantly accelerate the time to value of corporate initiatives. A new strategy can be delivered to a global workforce and execution capability can be developed quickly, consistently, and cost-effectively.
Case in Point: Executing Coca-Cola’s 2020 Vision
In unveiling The Coca-Cola Company’s 2020 Vision, Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, said, “We know that winning in 2020 and beyond is going to require new capabilities, new models, and new innovations” (remarks at the Investor and Analyst Event, Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, GA, November 16, 2009).Kent and his leadership turned to business simulations to help the company’s leaders and bottling partners rapidly build joint planning and execution capabilities across the globe.
Simulations are particularly effective for sophisticated strategy execution. Irial Finan, president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Investments Group and executive vice president of The Coca-Cola Company, deployed custom simulations to rapidly align leaders from the Coca-Cola-owned bottling groups to a “total system” strategy of building sustainable market share without aggressive price cutting.
Simulations: As Real as It Gets
Coca-Cola engaged BTS to develop simulations that were so closely modeled on the company’s competitive environment, organizational structure, and internal business issues that participants could easily apply their experiences in the simulation to on-the-job leadership and execution of the total system strategy.
According to Terry Hildebrand, global director of learning and development at Coca-Cola, “The more realistic the simulation, the easier it is for people to activate and go back to the business to apply their new capabilities and knowledge” (Taste of the Coca-Cola Company’s Simulations, Training TechTalk, September 2, 2010).
“Now I See How My Role Affects the Bottom Line
Successful leaders understand that force-feeding views to employees—particularly high-level people who have been hired to think for themselves—is not the solution. Far more effective is to let valuable employees discover the advantages of new approaches on their own terms. Through discovery, as opposed to being told what to do, they are more likely to take great ownership. This approach creates a motivational and inspirational atmosphere and a “can-do” culture that builds within the company’s core.
A customized business simulation of your enterprise, business unit or process, using real-world competitive dynamics, places leaders in a context where they step out of their normal day-to-day roles and gain exposure to the big picture. Participants make decisions in a risk-free environment, allowing them to experience critical interdependencies, best practices for execution, and the levers they can use to optimize their company’s key performance indicators.
Learn by Doing to Reduce Risk and Improve Performance
Some of the world’s most successful companies are using innovative tools such as business simulations to communicate and build commitment for the implementation of complex multi-year business strategies.
Through these cutting-edge tools, leaders are given the opportunity to practice implementation of their strategy in a risk-free environment. Participants head back to work with confidence in and ownership of the new business strategy. Equally significant, these programs provide a powerful platform for the company’s leadership to communicate their vision in a way that allows the entire organization to live and breathe the new strategy.
Peter Mulford is an executive vice president at BTS, a global leader in building strategy alignment and execution through the use of business simulations and experiential learning programs. BTS partners with companies to build engagement, commitment, and action around key strategic priorities. For more information, visit http://www.bts.com.