Business war gaming is an experiential group exercise where an organization can pressure test an existing strategy or create new strategies and ideas via role-playing the competitors’ strategy and mindset before making full-scale investments. War gaming is about shaking things up, challenging norms, and taking a fresh look at the market from the lens of other key players.
It’s helpful to point out how much we already instinctively know about what war gaming is. Have you ever observed a youth team sports practice — from football and basketball to soccer and volleyball? If so, you already know that the pinnacle of many practices is a scrimmage, when the overall team is split into two opposing sides to compete against each other.
Interestingly, smaller-scale corporate war games are also frequently referred to as scrimmages — often designed to take under a day to execute and focused primarily on one competitor or a specific business issue or scenario.
So to define business war gaming, consider what the average youth soccer scrimmage aims to accomplish. While the scrimmage is going on, team members who are normally on the same side are suddenly playing against each other as if they are the competitor, running plays and behaving as they would — sharpening both their offensive and defensive skills in the process. This setup results in a form of practical role-playing where players’ skills are tested and developed with the goal of honing them even further for game day.
How Does Business War Gaming Work?
Professionally led war gaming exercises from Proactive Worldwide typically involve a pre-game planning stage, the development of briefing books and finally, the war gaming workshop. With this comprehensive approach, nothing is left to chance. The pre-game planning helps to define the who, what, when and where of the upcoming workshop. Once the details of the war game objectives are mapped out, who will take part, what strategies will be tested, when the workshop will take place and where it will actually occur have been agreed upon, it’s time to develop a briefing book.
A briefing book is usually compiled of 20 pages or less and serves to prepare the participants for the workshop. The brevity of the book is intentional so that people actually read it in advance. It contains a baseline of information so that participants that will represent that company are equally up to date on both the market landscape and understand the mindset, characteristics, and culture of the company they will role play.
Subsequently, a full-scale war gaming exercise will commence with a home team and two or three competitor teams. In general, each team is comprised of five to eight cross-functional members. It’s essential to remember that not every competitor team needs to strictly be an adversarial company. One of the other teams role played may also be a regulatory body, a distributor or even a consumer group focused on customer experiences. Depending on the desired outcomes, this may be a one- or two-day event.
For a more detailed description of what war gaming is, which exercises are involved and what resources it requires, you’re invited to listen to David Kalinowski, Proactive Worldwide’s President and war gaming authority, describe the process in his own words in the following podcasts:
- Episode 2: War Gaming— Discover what this strategic tool has to offer.
- Episode 3: Transforming Your Strategies With War Gaming— Hear how a single day can be transformative for an entire organization.
- Episode 4: Time & Resource Requirements and Costs— Learn how to properly prepare for a successful war gaming exercise.
What Are the Benefits of War Gaming?
Business war gaming is an engaging, exciting, and energetic experience. Unlike any affirmatory exercise, war gaming is strategically set up to provide helpful insights for actionable strategic decision-making. With a skilled facilitator, at the end of a workshop you’ll be left with a number prioritized actions to help you win.
War gaming helps align an organization’s leadership, aid in strategic (and in some cases tactical) decision-making, better evaluate its alternative strategies and recognize its hidden opportunities to seize and real threats to blunt. To learn more about the enterprise-wide benefits of war gaming for your business, contact us today.