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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 31, 2007

Corporate War Games Teach Competitive Advantage

On April 17 to 21, 2007, The Conference Board will conduct what they are calling "The Conference Board Leadership Experience at Normandy." Against the backdrops of Paris and Normandy, this experiential learning experience will use the Normandy invasion as a model to help corporate leaders to analyze leadership strategies, correspondence, and reflections from those engaged in the battle.

Participants will walk the beaches and retrace the key stages of the invasion. They will stand on the edge of the cliffs and in the shadow of bunkers that had to be taken to control the coastline. They will learn from the strategies and moves embraced by the military leaders who were in control.

Thinking about this experiential learning opportunity engendered thoughts of how "real" war games are being used in corporate America today. Of course, the use of war games began with the military. The purpose was (and is) to "play out" various scenarios and try them out against a simulated enemy. This valuable simulation exposes deficiencies and vulnerabilities, so that they may be reduced or eliminated.

Imagine an opportunity to "think like your competitor?" Corporate war games allow participants to anticipate competitors’ moves before they make them. Using structured strategic exercises, war games help participants to understand unexplored or unforeseen strategic options. Most significant, war games demonstrate the implications of future decisions long before they must be made.

The clear leader in the corporate war game field is Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Fuld and Company (www.fuld.com) that facilitates about two events per month for various organizations around the globe. One of their clients was looking for the most effective recruiting strategy to attract PhD scientists; through playing a war game, the company discovered it needed to be much more aggressive and, like its competitor, establish relationships with Chinese universities.

Our forecast: more organizations that want their managers to think differently or question their own assumptions about themselves, their strengths, their competitors, and the marketplace will engage in war games. . .giving themselves a competitive advantage. War games are a powerful tool to get people to look at their marketplaces in realistic ways.


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