Written by Robert Brodo
One of the most interesting aspects of conducting a capabilities dialogue with a prospective new client is sharing ideas and insights about what a world-class business acumen learning solution should include. Over the past few years, the need for business acumen skills as a standalone competency has become a critical focus of most CEOs. 100% of the organizations that Advantexe Learning Solutions works with – close to 50 Fortune 500 companies – have business acumen listed as a top 10 and critical competency for 2015 and beyond.
As the global economy continues to struggle, today’s organizations need leaders, managers, and employees who can directly contribute to the achievement of their goals and objectives by making the right business decisions. Essentially, every employee needs the skills and tools to think more like an owner of the business and to understand, set, and execute business strategy while being able to measure the effectiveness of their business strategy through financial performance. Because of this need, prospective clients are curious about what elements should go into a world-class business acumen learning solution. Based on my experience over the past 25 years, here are five of the most important elements:
1. Business Strategy Development and Application
As the old saying goes, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” The best business acumen learning initiatives will start the learning process with the creation of an overall business strategy, and present learners with information, models, frameworks, and tools of strategic thinking and planning to be able to effectively implement that strategy.
2. A Clear Understanding of Financial Acumen
After participants have a deep understanding of business strategy, the next element of a strong business acumen learning journey should focus on financial acumen, including presenting participants with content and application of the income statement, the balance sheet, the cash flow report, and the metrics of business performance used to gauge success.
3. Tools, Skills, and Concepts of Marketing
As a result of the evolution of marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Search Engine Optimization, content-based marketing, account-based marketing, and social media based communications, marketing has changed forever. A strong business acumen learning engagement will present participants with the critical elements needed to understand and participate in today’s complex marketing ecosystem. Things like developing a strong brand and creating awareness are timeless marketing classics, but marketing and sales alignment, utilizing social media, pay per click advertising, digital re-marketing, and instant customer usage of data are new concepts that must be part of an evolved business acumen learning strategy for companies to be successful.
4. An Understanding of Operations, Supply Chain, and Manufacturing
Global competition has forced every organization to re-think their operational strategy and increase their ability to be operationally efficient. A great business acumen learning engagement presents participants with all of the information and tools they need to see and understand the system of operations, as well as how to drive costs out of the system while they are improving quality and customer focus.
5. Business Simulations
We have saved the most important element of a great business acumen learning journey for last: integrating a computer-based business simulation into the learning process. A business simulation enables participants to learn about business acumen in a risk free, trial and error environment. A great business acumen simulation design will enable participants to learn about strategy, finance, marketing, and operations by running a case study that comes to life. A simulation can help participants understand the system of business and develop the tools and skills they need to make the best business decisions they can take back on the job.
Related blog posts that you may be interested in:
- Defining Business Acumen
- Five Questions to Test your Business Acumen Skills
- What is Business Acumen?