How can commercial wargaming help you grow your business?
This article is written by Dr Sara Ulrich, Global Business Wargaming Lead at PA Consulting. He explores the concept of Business Wargaming and how it can help businesses.
It’s never been harder to make sense of our complex decision-making environment, but there is a proven approach that can help: commercial wargaming. A Business War Game is a business simulation based on military techniques to explore and test blueprints and practice skills giving decision makers a realistic but safe way to explore options and identify challenges. and future opportunities by seeing “the forest and the trees”.
1. Commercial wargaming is a realistic and safe experiential approach to decision making
Instead of passively listening to a “death by power point” presentation, participants are part of an experiential event where they are actors of their own solution. Commercial wargaming also offers participants a realistic experience where they make decisions under pressures similar to those they would have in real life. Still, it’s a safe environment where it’s okay to try and fail.
Companies often ask for a trade war game process to try to “break” their established plans. This helps them see what are the possible single points of failure and test their resilience of their supply chain or program deployment, as well as their strength across different functions or regions. The advantage of this approach is that participants feel able to put everything on the table without fear of judgment.
They can then tackle challenges head-on and try out any decisions or actions, while still feeling empowered to ask the tough questions.
2. Commercial wargaming allows companies to see “the forest and the trees”
Commercial wargaming gives participants the chance to see the potential consequences of their decisions. The role played or a real resistant interactive external environment allows them to penetrate the minds of their customers, patients, competitors, regulators or the media. This new perspective means they can get inside and outside perspectives and see the big picture (holistic systems thinking).
This is particularly useful for eliminating unknowns, unintended consequences and false assumptions – and in doing so, moving from a “2D” planning process to a “3D” planning process. This proved invaluable when a global life sciences company was about to launch a new drug in a new market and wanted to see how its marketing and pricing strategy plan would work, especially in terms of reaction. the external environment of this new market.
It turned out that two of their most important stakeholder groups did not respond well to their plan. This meant that their strategy had to be changed, but by running a trade war game, the company saved a lot of time and money by not rolling out their original untested plan.
3. Commercial wargaming combines content and behavioral transformational impacts
Commercial wargaming not only tests the content of a decision or plan, but can transform behavior as well. It encourages teamwork, repeats responses and builds consensus or alignment with multiple stakeholders. This is very effective for rehearsing crisis management or other project responses, but is also useful for bringing people together to drive change. It is particularly useful for reducing management bias and behavioral blind spots.
We saw this when a global manufacturing company wanted help revising its draft Brexit mitigation plans and tackling the challenges of having two separate administrative entities, with two different perspectives. They began by conducting two separate sessions to develop a factual dialogue on the challenges and to deal with dissenting opinions and prejudices. Then, participants from both regions came together to create a common body of knowledge and cultural understanding on Brexit which paved the way for unbiased planning.
4. Business Wargaming is a powerful horizon analysis tool
Commercial wargaming has a vital role to play in helping organizations plan for the future and explore what might affect them and how to better prepare for the unexpected. It does not provide a crystal ball; he does not predict the future; but it takes into account possible future impacts on your organization to support more robust decision making and planning, which forecasting or scenario planning alone cannot achieve.
One approach to enterprise wargaming is known as ‘back to the future’, where participants identify possible futures and then create an action plan to achieve what they want – and avoid what they don’t. not – in these futures. Companies have used this to envision big planning challenges such as their sustainability and climate change plans, their joint ventures or mergers and acquisitions, the impacts of digitization or the future of work in a new COVID-19 standard.
This type of horizon scan can be used to explore a combination of very disruptive futures: the future event of the “perfect storm”. This “perfect storm” scenario combines two or three future challenges at the same time: for example, an acute pandemic scenario in progress, the effects of the implementation of the “Swiss-style” Brexit deal and an organizational transformation. massive.
Commercial wargaming can deal with real organizational survival issues, or at the very least, major decisions. By having a realistic, forward-looking experience in a safe location, companies can build a well-prepared, stronger team and a strong, hardened plan. This revolutionizes traditional approaches to decision making and planning.