Building financial and business acumen
Developing core business and financial skills for all employees of a company can dramatically improve bottom-line results and performance metrics.
Experiential financial learning helps participants to understand the bigger picture of what drives business outcomes. It breaks down barriers between functions and allows every individual to understand how they can each impact overall business results.
Frequently perceived as a dry and intimidating topic, simulation games bring financial training to life and make it fun and engaging. Numbers are no longer off-putting. Instead, the hands-on nature of a simulation turns them into a tool to be used and mastered. A challenge to be accepted and an accomplishment achieved.
To bring to life the fundamental financial principles and drivers of business performance in a digital world, Ososim has partnered with ProfitAbility Business Simulations to create the Visible Value simulation.
During a session, participants are divided into small teams to run simulated companies competing with each other on a market. Each business is represented on a digital board with cash, products and debt represented by coloured coins. Managers can see with clarity the business’ profit, cash and assets laid out in front of them and the impact of any decision they make on these items. Completing financial statements such as the Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet turns into a transparent process of reading stacks of coins from the board. Thanks to the simulation, the origin and relationship between these numbers become obvious.
Small team discussions enable participants from different functions to cooperate together and align their varying perspectives in order to make decisions for the business. Competition between teams brings a healthy challenge and fun energy to the market dynamics. Teams must not only make sound business decisions but also recognise different market strategies and selling tactics to succeed.
A medical technology company is currently using Visible Value to improve the financial understanding and business skills of their middle managers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This client runs virtual sessions over two half days for a total of 9 contact hours. The course brings together employees from Sales, Marketing, HR, Legal and other central functions. Such a successful initiative, courses have become oversubscribed and further sessions have been requested to expand the reach of the training to more functions and levels.
Training is supported by presentations from corporate finance to link the learnings directly to the company’s own financial statements and metrics. Follow-up calls encourage participants to share real examples of applying the learning across the business, further embedding best practices and sustaining the positive impact.
Feedback from the Sales function of the company highlights areas where the training has immediately been applied:
“I have a much better understanding of gross and operating margins, and how we make money as a business. This has impacted my interactions with customers around products and pricing.” – Key account manager
“I now realise that there are so many other factors I can include in conversations about positioning our product, so that I can avoid just discounting and dropping the price. I am working on selling on value instead. I’m also passing that understanding down to the sales force I manage.” – Regional Head of Sales
Other functions also find a multitude of opportunities to use the skills they have practised:
“The session was an eye opener for me on financial topics, such as the impact of my actions on the company’s balance sheet. I am using these learnings in my projections and current planning to assess and understand broader perspectives from the entire business.” – Business planner
“I am now paying much closer attention to the days payment terms from customers and to suppliers in new contracts. Previously I had seen terms such as days payable outstanding, but I didn’t really understand what it meant for the business. Now I know how a contract’s legal clauses can really impact and improve the business cash flow.” – Legal counsel
“I now realise the levers that impact the bottom line. I see the importance of collaboration across the whole group and that we need to have a cross-functional strategy that is coherent and brings in all the stakeholders.” – Marketing manager
Strategic Business Acumen
For more experienced leaders who are already familiar with financial statements, Ososim’s Clean Sweep simulation builds understanding of value creation and strategic leadership skills. This experience challenges participants to run a robotic manufacturing and service business in a high-growth competitive market. Participants take decisions on market positioning, capacity investments and working capital management. The financial statements of the company provide them with data and metrics to refine their strategies and recognise the drivers of economic value added.
A great example of the versatility of this simulation is a recent session run by the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) with a corporate client in the entertainment industry. This fast-growing company has many highly motivated and dynamic managers who are relatively new to the team. They needed to develop their leadership skills while building a cohesive and cooperative culture and improving their business acumen. And they are a competitive group that enjoys a challenge!
The Clean Sweep simulation was used as the backbone of the second module in a 6-month programme. A dense, fast-paced journey, created by a combination of decision rounds, business analysis and leadership reflections, stretched and engaged participants. They discussed the trade-offs of different target market and investment strategies, but also the way their personal behaviours impacted the team’s alignment and commitment. Creating an immersive environment, the simulation provided a perfect experiential laboratory for participants to examine their own interactions, expertly guided by CCL’s deep roots in leadership psychology.
Key take-away learnings that participants will implement on the job include:
“Think as a team to foster collective knowledge”
“Involve different points of view in strategic thinking”
“Take the time to discuss and listen to each member of the team to get alignment and improve execution”
If you would like to improve your employees’ financial skills to positively impact your business performance, please get in touch for an exploratory call on +44 (0)1223 421 034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.