Business Acumen Training & Strategy for Managers in Boston, MA

Ready-now leaders through Business Acumen & Strategy in the Boston area

Today's volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) - world of business presents demanding obstacles organizations and leaders must overcome to achieve organizational priorities. Business Acumen, an imperative competency, has been identified by leaders and talent development professionals as a key driver for addressing our VUCA world challenges. Historically, business acumen competencies were reserved for the CEO and in some cases, the C-Suite. However, recent years have proven that organizations that develop business acumen throughout the lower and mid-levels of the organization ensure an important, competitive advantage.

Who would benefit from the training?

TurnKey Coaching & Development Solutions’ customized Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking for Managers programs combine learning with real work projects to produce strategic solutions while developing your team’s business and commercial acumen. The training focuses upon developing strategic thinking and planning competency, strategic agility, financial and business acumen and more through a customized, business simulation competition experience.

Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking for Managers

Alternatively, our data-driven strategic alignment program builds business acumen while fostering alignment and commitment to a common vision. We also have a unique strategic alignment (similar to strategic planning) workshop that uses research-backed tools to drive out leadership’s priorities and the path forward, while cultivating a unified vision and business acumen. For more on our Strategic Growth Consulting and X-Ray program, please visit here.


Brochure for the Business Acumen Training Program


As the cohort works collaboratively, through real business problems, the program improves your managers and/or HiPos’ leadership, collaboration, and teamwork skills. We believe it’s better than business simulation competition for your team, as all of the projects are selected to specifically solve company identified challenges.

An effective leadership development program includes competency development opportunities in three areas - Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading in Business.

Our business strategy simulation and business acumen program can be optioned alone, or as part of a more comprehensive approach to leadership development. When optioned as part of a builds upon foundational competency development including interpersonal effectiveness and managing and motivating a team, for example. Our comprehensive leadership development program builds over time through phase 1 (leading self), phase 2 (leading others) and finally, phase 3 (leading in business).

Comprehensive leadership  development training

How does it work?

Our Leading in Business Training focuses on Business Acumen Skills through experiential learning opportunities (better than business simulation training), customized cohort work projects, the collaboration between peers and mentors, business case development and capstone project presentations (a la Shark Tank presentations).

Note: Our programs are facilitated on or off-site for organizations. We do not offer public seminars at this time. While we have speakers and trainers that are available to facilitate and speak at public engagements, we do not offer public seminars.

Objectives

The learning objectives for the program include:

Organizational
  • Strategic human resource development
  • Align development with the Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Increased competency
  • Business competency development designed to impact the bottom-line
  • Team projects with tangible strategic impact on the business
  • Direct observational opportunities between executives, board members, and high-potential employees in support of future leader identification and succession planning
  • Development aligned with strategic priorities
At the Cohort Level
  • Encourage participants to routinize the sharing of best management practices
  • Expose leaders to cross-functional problem solving with minimal risk to the business
  • Build alliances across functions that can develop into concrete linkages for future collaboration
  • Healthy competition and collaboration, a la “Shark Tank” type challenge and capstone projects
At the Individual Level

The program delivers a business simulation experience with real-work projects for a holistic and immersive, active-learning program. Participant learning objectives include:

  • Develop strategic and critical thinking skills
  • Develop quality decision-making skills
  • Learn how to make a business case
  • Gain an understanding of all areas of a business’ operations
  • Ensure foundational confidence in financial analysis competency
  • Comprehend the importance of strategic agility
  • Build financial acumen and budgeting skills
  • Develop the ability to ask questions that generate new thinking and solutions
  • Set effective team goals
  • Practice negotiation and influence skills
  • Develop insight into the interconnectedness of business functions and operations
  • Collaborate with their team to establish plans
  • Presentation skills development
  • Evaluate and Improve work processes
  • Align organizational systems
  • Engage in systems thinking and a continuous improvement focus
  • Develop risk management skills
  • Understand the builder mindset vs. the protector mindset


leadership development program brochure

In 2012, the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed Human Resources Professionals and asked what the four most critical business competencies would be in 10 years. Those surveyed believed the most critical competencies were Business Acumen (42%), Organizational Leadership and Navigation (40%), Relationship Management (37%), and Communication (35%).

According to the survey, business acumen was the most highly rated competency required for business success. Yet, business acumen is like the synchronized swimming of business, as a fringe skillset, it's complex and so much more than just business knowledge. Anyone can get in a pool and dance. But the art of synchronizing all movements in perfect unison with teammates - that's what opened Olympia's gates for a sport on the fringe. Business acumen is often ignored in development programs, mostly because it's hard to pinpoint, let alone to develop.

Business acumen is the ability to assimilate functional knowledge with the what, how, and why of business. For example, a leader may be quite astute in the disciplines of finance and accounting, but less competent at evaluating how the nuances of external and internal factors inform astute financial decisions. A CFO who only knows "tighten the belt" will never understand the builder mindset required for business growth. Likewise, a CEO who only understands - grow at all cost, will never understand the protector mindset required for business sustainability.

When / Important Logistics / Important facts for ensuring success

Our immersive, business strategy simulation and business simulation competition program leverages active-learning and real-work projects for an effective and results-oriented learning experience.

What are the logistics and delivery formats of the program?

Our programs are infinitely flexible. Each component is custom-designed around your organizational goals and budget.  Programs are available in a variety of formats, including: 

  • Lunch and learns  / Brown-bag learning opportunities
  • 90-minute to half-day introductory sessions
  • Comprehensive programs include full-day to multi-day active-learning training events
  • Development programs (moving employees from skills knowledge to high-performance requires more change and accountability components) typically include a variety of learning events over a period of 12 to 24 months
  • In-Person, on or off-site programs are typically the most effective
  • Virtual, Instructor-Led training is also available

What are the components of the program?

We find that each company or non-profit organization will have very specific goals, budgets, and logistical requirements. Thus, we will not insist on a routine approach. However, we can share that our most effective business-simulation and acumen corporate development programs include: 

  • Stakeholder interviews to uncover the organization's goals
  • Management consulting in support of well-considered and selected work projects (capstone projects)
  • Coaching focused on business-case development related to the company's selected work projects 
  • Cohort groups collaborate on real work-projects and prepare business cases
  • Presentations to the executive team or board of directors
  • The program finale is a fun, engaging and competitive Shark Tank*-like presentation to the company's internal "investors";   
  • Workshops designed using active-learning and adult-learning principles 
  • Training agenda is focused on business, financial, and commercial acumen and is tailored for the industry and specific to your organization (i.e. private/public/non-profit/governmental entity) 
  • Optimal programs include a series of training events. For example, we recommend multi-day, and/or full-day training sessions and bi-monthly half-day sessions focused on the business acumen topics, plus group coaching, internal mentor support, practice presentation sessions, and one-on-one coaching, as needed. 
  • The group coaching is an essential component as each cohort group works with an experienced management consultant and executive coach to build their business cases with relevant feedback and constructive criticism in support of a dynamite presentation at the conclusion of the program.
  • Internally facilitated project meetings to ensure accountability and cross-functional teamwork.  
  • Internal mentors serve as in-house experts and are provided well-defined rules of engagement that ensure fairness across all teams. Tip: Mentors cannot do the work!  
  • The final business case presentations culminate in a memorable and exciting conclusion and celebration. 

Here's a sample time-line of events for our best-practice approach to the training:

Leading in business workshops

Generally speaking, business acumen is demonstrated through an understanding of how an organization makes money, manages risks, stays relevant, and comprehends the systems of the business. This includes adapting to internal and external business factors and demonstrating critical thinking and quality decision-making skills. Business Acumen is comprised of many, complex competencies, including understanding the numerous facets of the organization and the economic, competitive, regulatory and even political factors that may impact the company's ability to achieve its goals. Skills associated with business acumen are critical thinking skills, strategic thinking, financial intelligence, the ability to analyze and make a business case, and insightful knowledge of the industry, and competitive landscape.

Business acumen training, especially through business case building & business simulation, hones the thinking and analysis skills required to create a sound, efficient business environment. Developing thinking skills will complement a leader's business sense. Strategic thinking is the capacity to see the big picture and analyze solutions prior to barking orders and certainly before making sweeping changes. A competent leader is able to adapt to changing trends and competition whilst maintaining the organization's strategic priorities.

Executives with a strong business sense and heightened strategic thinking have the necessary tools to shape powerful strategies to ensure organizational growth. Enhancing business acumen and strategic thinking enables leaders to more deliberately hire the right employees, ensure the right strategies are deployed and be nimble enough to modify priorities when the changing dynamics of the business dictate it.

Developing a leader's business sense includes training to develop financial acumen. As a leader, it is imperative to understand what drives profits and cash flow. When a leader learns how to monitor financial indicators like profit margin, cost-analysis, sales metrics, COGS, etc. they are more empowered to think strategically and critically about the business and thus will be more likely to contribute to organizational success. However, most leaders would never admit they get lost in the financial reports and feign competency at best, and ignore them at worst.

The expectation is that a qualified leader knows how to analyze the business metrics, and is competent in managing resources, assessing risks, and improving organizational processes. Unfortunately, most organizations have a finite number of leaders that truly understand the financial metrics. This results in a constant struggle between your protectors (Finance / HR) and your builders (sales/operations/marketing etc.)

Financial literacy enables leaders, at any level, to better understand the decisions made or advocate for a better plan. Financial savvy fosters buy-in, engagement, and more effective and efficient decisions at the bottom; decisions that ultimately drive towards your profitability and/or cost-management goals.

On the other hand, the lack of financial skills inevitably leads to wasted resources, poor decisions, improper implementation of objectives and lost opportunities.

The Training Problem

We know that a one size fits all approach to training employees doesn't work. This is particularly true for developing Business Acumen. We will be the first to advocate for coaching and training, as the benefits are well-documented and undisputed. However, for strategic thinking, financial acumen, and some of the more advanced thinking and analytical skills, an effective program may also include:

  • A change management and accountability approach
  • Real work-projects provide immediate opportunities to apply the skills learned in the training sessions  
  • Real-world business simulation-style training  
  • Subject matter experts to inform and mentor participants 
  • A practical approach for learning about lateral and vertical thinking models 
  • Top-down support to foster real buy-in to the program 
  • Accountability check-points ensure engagement and prioritized attention 
  • Performance management protocols and oversight 
  • Quality assurance measures 
  • Coaching to foster integration and skill practice 
  • Peer-to-peer interaction to maximize learning retention and develop additional learning opportunities 
Adult learning

For our business acumen development program we customize our proven curriculum for relevance and alignment with your business, industry and strategic priorities.  Each program is designed to actively engage participants in rich learning experiences and adult-learning best practices.

NOTE: We do not have public training events. While our programs are available for groups only, we do have individual, one-on-one coaching programs for individuals seeking business acumen coaching. Please inquire.

 

Please also see more information on our customized leadership development options:

 

leadership development program brochure

 

Have questions? We have answers. Please also read our Strategic Thinking & Business Acumen Training Frequently Asked Questions here, for the details on our Business Acumen Training and Capstone Project development programs.
 

Business acumen can and must be developed, despite the complexity of teaching it, for a business to thrive. Luckily, business acumen does not have to be an innate characteristic but instead is a skillset that can be learned. Remember, managers with strong business acumen are better equipped to lead their company to sustainable growth and drive meaningful results.

@ Directly email our local business acumen trainings leader and get a complimentary consultation:


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Disclaimer: Shark-Tank-Like* We are not associated in any way with the television show. We think it’s an awesome show and use the verbiage “shark-tank-Like” because it accurately describes how our final capstone, business simulation competition, and business strategy simulation presentations are experienced by our clients. SHARK TANK is a trademark of Sony Pictures Television Inc. and is not associated in any way with this company or program.