Business Simulation: A Great Way to Witness Bad Practices


One of the most interesting aspects of being a Business Leadership trainer is watching bad leadershipleadership-practices behaviors change before our eyes. A Business Leadership simulation workshop is a wonderful laboratory to watch that happen and this blog shares some observations and insights.

Recently, the Advantexe team facilitated a Business Leadership development program for a group of senior leaders who were specifically being rated poorly in five (5) critical areas of business leadership within their leadership competency model. Each participant was given a set of feedback about poor leadership practices that needed to be developed and corrected.

The feedback was provided in the form of a coaching session conducted by the Talent Management Business Partner and our job was to utilize the our business simulation as a way to develop better skills. One of the overarching themes of the group and the organizational culture as a whole  is that people are good at strategy execution, but bad at leading.

Specifically, the five poorly rated skills were:

  • Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Building Relationships
  • Innovation
  • Leading Change
  • Solving Problems and Analyzing Business Situations

There were 15 participants in the session and each was at least a Vice President or higher within a major business unit of a Fortune 100 company. The two-day workshop integrated customized Business Acumen and Business Leadership Development content with a customized business simulation that emulated their business ecosystem. In small teams of three, each group "ran" their simulated business choosing and executing a strategy. In addition to the dynamics of working in the small teams, we interjected role play scenarios that presented opportunities to explore and develop better skills.

One role play in particular we call the Nectarine Innovation Scenario has a real world customer looking to vendors for an innovative solution to their unique challenge. The scenario is designed to isolate skills of relationship building (internally and with the customer), innovation on a new solution, change to come up with the solution faster than other competitors, and solving a complex internal and external challenge. Oh, and they still have to meet their targets and generate a profit.


Initially, old (bad) behaviors immediately came out. Participants were hell-bent on "making a deal" and winning the business they forgot all about their feedback. However, after a few minutes, they started to realize that the old behaviors no longer were acceptable and they started to evolve them. Instead of trying to win the deal, they set up meetings with the simulated customers to understand needs. They started to talk with their own Manufacturing resources to look at changes to production and to see what was possible before making a promise to a customer that could not be met. Right there before our eyes, behaviors were changing!

As soon as the round was over, we processed the business results and the leadership results. The participants all said that they "got it" and realized what skills were needed to be successful. We had each participant develop an action plan and then we are coming back for a one-day follow-up session to check-in on the changed behaviors and to provide new content and additional reinforcement to their skills.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.