Grow Your Leaders with Business Acumen Training in Cedar-rapids, IA

A Guide to Understanding Business Acumen & Strategy for Managers in the Cedar Rapids area

Effective business acumen is a competency that alludes many leadership teams. Even though senior executives understand the importance of business and financial acumen and its role in driving growth, companies find developing business acumen to be an ambiguous task. As a "given" competency, one that is simply expected, and one that many leaders believe they already possess, companies fall short of their goals because they fail to actively assess and develop their team's "business savvy" competency.

Develop your organization's or company's (or business units) strategic plan and cultivate greater business acumen within your team with our strategic planning and alignment program. Learn more here or call us at 281-469-4244.

Who would benefit from the training?

Our customized Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking for Managers program focuses upon developing critical thinking and planning competency, strategic agility, financial and commercial acumen, and strategic management competencies via a customized, simulation-like experience. We believe our program is better than a cookie-cutter business simulation competition, as the projects are company-selected and relevant to your strategic priorities.

The program combines learning with real work projects to produce strategic solutions while developing your team’s business,  financial, and commercial acumen via business strategy simulation. As the cohort works collaboratively, through real business problems, the program improves your managers and/or HiPos’ leadership, collaboration, and teamwork skills.

Why BAC training?

Some of our clients are looking for a program for their executive or business unit leadership team.  If you are seeking a strategic planning retreat or strategic planning consulting firm, please see our strategic growth planning and strategic alignment program here.

Brochure for the Business Acumen Training Program

Learning Objectives:

At the Organizational Level the Learning Objectives Include:

  • Interaction and collaboration opportunities between executives, board members, and high-potentials
  • Support succession planning strategy
  • Align cross-functional teams with the mission, vision, and strategic plans.
  • Actionable business projects provide strategic impact to the business
  • Strategic HR Development
  • Change management components aid in learning retention
  • Increased competency
  • Business competency development designed to impact the bottom-line

At the Cohort Level the Learning Objectives Include:

  • Healthy competition and business-focused discourse
  • Structured, required collaboration
  • Participants learn to routinize the sharing of knowledge
  • Participants are immersed in cross-functional problem solving
  • Program structure provides learning opportunities with minimal risk to the business
  • Alliances are built across the organization
  • Strategic management best-practices are demonstrated, modeled, and routinely shared
  • Participants form strong relationships and cross-functional knowledge, laying the path for ongoing collaboration

At the Individual Level the Learning Objectives Include:

  • Develop insight into the correlation of business functions and operations
  • Discover how the builder vs. protector mindsets impact business goals
  • Strategic thinking skills
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Cross-functional knowledge across all areas of business’ operations
  • Quality decision making
  • Learn how to make and present a powerful, business case
  • Cultivate the ability to be a master-asker (curious, questioning)
  • Grow the ability to generate new ways of thinking and create solutions
  • Learn to set effective team goals
  • Grow financial acumen and budgeting knowledge
  • Learn how to align organizational systems
  • Grow the ability to be resourceful and innovative
  • Develop financial analysis competency
  • Understand and learn to practice strategic agility
  • Negotiation skills
  • Learning through doing
  • Presentation skills development
  • Influence skills
  • Engage in systems thinking
  • Engage in continuous improvement discussions
  • Develop risk analysis/risk management skills
  • Collaborate, negotiate and apply influence to establish plans and build a compelling business case

How does it work?

Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking Training Program

An effective Leadership Development program has three primary development categories:

Comprehensive leadership  development training

For Phase 3: Leading in Business - the focus is on Business Acumen and Critical Thinking Skills.
While the final competency development objectives will be determined through the customization process of each business simulation training program and dependent upon the logistics and scope of the program, a comprehensive Business Acumen & Strategy Execution training focuses on the following business and strategic competencies:


Thinking & Analysis Skills:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Data Analysis
  • Holistic thinking
  • Sound judgment
  • Quality decision making
  • Strategic Agility


Business Case Analysis:

  • Ability to develop a compelling business case
  • Problem-solving
  • Global business savvy
  • Dealing with ambiguity
  • Strategic foresight


Accounting Skills:

  • Finance for non-finance managers
  • A passion for understanding the numbers
  • Investment analysis
  • Risk analysis & risk management
  • Cost controls


Distinguishing Attributes:

  • Executive presence
  • Impact and Influence
  • Perspective
  • Presentation skills
  • Negotiation skills



Looking for Public Seminars? We regret that we do not offer public seminars at this time. We do, however, have expert coaches who assist individuals in building their business acumen, and critical thinking skills. Please inquire.



Commercial Acumen and Critical Thinking for Managers Training Program

Our business-savvy and strategy for managers programs are most effective when participants have some management experience or after they have participated in foundational management training including interpersonal effectiveness and supervisory skills.

Our Business simulation competition - commercial acumen training program uses experiential learning opportunities, customized cohort work projects, collaboration between peers and mentors, business case development and capstone project presentations (a la Shark Tank presentations) to drive development and learning retention.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by BTS, conducted research and found that two-thirds of corporate executives believe that a lack of business skills and a deficient understanding of how a business operates, inhibits speed in decision-making and achieving strategic priorities. Having a higher level of business acumen enables employees at every level to understand how their own decisions impact the company's profitability and the organization's ability to perform. Take a frontline employee that is dealing with a disgruntled customer. Managing the customer could equate to either losing the customer, a damaged reputation or otherwise. This one incident could affect other employee's engagement, the company's public relations and ultimately its profitability. Successfully increasing the level of business acumen in both managers and employees equips them in connecting their actions with the company outcomes. Business savvy, when coupled with an understanding of how one's decisions and responsibilities contribute to the mission and success of the organization, is a formula for higher-performance.

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

In light of the ever-changing global challenges and market complexities that enterprises face today, business acumen has become an essential commodity for every employee, and especially for managers. Today, the right dose of business acumen becomes the most important tool for ensuring effective business strategy and enabling the organizations' viability and profitability.

Business acumen is the building block of a strong enterprise. The ability to think strategically, and consider carefully the market, industry, people resources, and process challenges quickly and efficiently, in order to properly assess and make informed decisions is an important skillset. A highly competent leader is able to have both near and far-sighted perspective, and juxtapose those perspectives with the most critical priorities of the day. This means efficacious managers are not only effectively managing and motivating their team to get things done today, but they are also constantly on the lookout for process breakdowns and opportunities for improvement. They have an acute sense of the cost of inefficiencies and an appropriate sense of urgency. They feel compelled to challenge the status quo and improve costs, and improve the abilities of their subordinates to do their job effectively. Employees with stronger business sense are able to juggle big-picture thinking and communicate how each subordinate's role contributes to the success of the organization; ever mindful of how current actions or inactions predict the company's future.

A comprehensive learning and development strategy includes three foundational learning courses, including understanding self, understanding others, and understanding business. A productive leadership development program includes understanding self and how an employee's style tendencies influence how they lead; understanding others which focuses upon enabling leaders to comprehend what makes others tick and how to adapt their style for greater productivity; and, leading in business which includes strategic and critical thinking, and business and financial acumen.

The most compelling strategy will no doubt begin with the learning and development of the business basics. The development and application of business strategy is a combination of the acumen that you gain through knowledge in sync with the variety of information tools at your disposal. Different methodologies, many unique elements of strategic thinking and detailed planning help you to completely grasp the nuances of running a business effectively.

Strategic thinking, for example, is not an innate skill set. Unfortunately, it's often left to chance and sub-par, misaligned and poor execution is the result. Financial Acumen is also a crucial skill and yet, rarely do companies take the time to properly develop their manager's ability to read proformas. Imagine for a moment that you didn't quite understand what the numbers on the P&L really meant but you believe all of your peers do. Are you going to raise your hand and risk humiliation and your credibility and ask how these numbers inform the strategy? No way. We've met countless executives that fail to consider the financial data and none of them would ever admit it's because they were never really taught to be more skilled in the analysis side of their roles. Instead, most believe they have the chops to make decisions without understanding the numbers!

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.
 

Learning how to lead a business and develop the business acumen skills to make quality, informed, strategic decisions matters, at all levels of a management team. Insufficient business acumen competency significantly limits an organization's ability to realize and achieve its goals. High performing companies address the business-savvy skill gap by implementing business acumen, finance for non-financial managers, and strategic thinking training programs to build the required competencies.

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Make sure to also check out TurnKey's other services in the city: executive coaching programs, corporate leadership development, leadership team development, programs for emerging leaders and high potentials, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team programs, business retreats, and strategic planning consultations.


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.