Business Acumen Training: Advancing Business Sense in Portland, OR

Critical Thinking, Business Acumen & Strategy for Managers Training in the Portland area

Rapid change is occurring in every aspect of our lives and this has naturally led to many adaptations in business and how successful organizations survive and thrive. The speed at which change is happening can be alarming and savvy, nimble businesses realize they must rapidly modify their strategies and goals to match the changing marketplace. Unfortunately, the gap between employee technical knowledge and the more elusive but required business knowledge has not kept pace with the changes in the marketplace. Particularly, business acumen is a critical capability most lacking in employees and managers across the board.

Searching for a strategic planning consultant? Our research-backed, data-driven strategic alignment program builds business acumen and strategic management skills, while clarifying your company/business unit or non-profit's most critical priorities. Learn more about our strategic planning retreat here or call us to inquire: 281-469-4244

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.


The learning objectives for the program include:

  • 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

A recent study featuring British Petroleum Chief Executives found that business acumen can be cultivated but it demands intense mental activity with several practices considered critical. Global competition has forced every organization to re-think their operational strategy and presents leaders with the challenge of evaluating business systems, operational processes, the company's profit model, all while driving results on a daily basis.

Shockingly, according to Kaplan and Norton (2005), 95% of leaders do not understand their company's strategy. While most people understand their job, study after study demonstrates that the majority of leaders don't understand the business of their business. Leaders must understand how they impact the bottom-line and business acumen skills are key – without business savvy, leaders will struggle to make a meaningful impact on business results

When / Important Logistics / Important facts for ensuring success

In John Maxwell’s best-seller, The 12 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he explains the law of the lid. This law states that an organization will only rise to the level of competency of its’ leadership. High-performing leadership teams master the soft-skills of interpersonal effectiveness, the hard skills of analytics and finance, and the nuanced intricacies of business acumen. Organizations that provide development opportunities in all three areas, raise the lid!

What are the logistics and delivery formats of the program?

Our programs are infinitely flexible. We custom-design each program to be the right fit for your organization, goals, and budget. For some organizations, that means a “lunch and learn” or virtual, instructor-led training to introduce the concepts of business acumen. For other companies, the need to build their team’s business acumen skills is more urgent and a more comprehensive, skill development approach is available.

Our premiere program includes:

  • Facilitated stakeholder meetings to identify the company-specific goals and capstone projects
  • Business case development coaching
  • Real work-projects for business-case preparations and shark-tank-like presentations to the executive team and/or the board of directors
  • Active-learning workshops - typically two full days plus half-day sessions over the course of the development program (12 to 18 months)
  • Group coaching with each cohort group by an experienced management consultant and executive coach
  • Facilitated project meetings
  • Internal mentors following well-defined rules to ensure fairness across all teams
  • Business case presentations in a shark tank type session

Leading in business workshops

Peter Senge author of The Fifth Discipline, suggests five "component technologies" which include systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning, as the key components for building a learning organization. These components are true for building business acumen as well. In his book, P. Senge describes a learning organization as "... where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together."
A leader's business acumen grows naturally as they experience and process through each component technology over time (assuming the organization provides those opportunities). However, what organization has the luxury of time to allow leaders to slowly simmer into competence?

Unfortunately, a typical workshop, wherein a trained expert shares theories and concepts around business acumen falls short of actually engaging the neurons required for learning how to think strategically and critically around a business growth strategy or how to overcome business challenges.

An article from People Matters (2017) reports that 65% of managers feel that they have reached their business acumen limit. Reached their limit? Does this mean they believe they are experts in the business acumen arena? Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the other research (BTS and the Economist Intelligence Unit, for example) that revealed 2 out of 3 executives believe their team lacks business acumen competency.

It is thus essential that organizations prioritize the development of their managers through business acumen training and/or a strategy for managers program, to ensure misplaced confidence isn't left unaddressed. A manager who is fully equipped with the following business acumen traits will, in fact, understand how they contribute to the bottom line and thus, be more deliberate and effective in their contributions.

Strategic perspective – the ability to recognize the current strengths and weaknesses of the business, its critical interdependencies, and the short- and long-term impacts of decisions made.

Financial acumen – the ability to determine the key investments that drive progress, productivity and cash flow and utilize financial statements to inform business decisions.

Market orientation – the ability to demonstrate discernment on current macroeconomic trends and synthesize market and business competitor data; And, the ability to understand the customer's needs and how to create a competitive advantage while effectively meeting those needs.

Leadership and teamwork – the ability to deliver business results through others; the capacity to foster alignment, commitment, collaboration, and a unified vision.

In an increasingly challenging marketplace, it is important for companies to enable employees at all levels to understand how the business works, and how their role impacts the business.

The Training Problem

All training isn't the same; one size doesn't fit all. This is especially true for Business Acumen training. While the wisdom of training and coaching isn't disputed, for a business acumen training program to have a lasting impact, there are important attributes to consider including:

business acumen training program  components
  • Change management components
  • Real-world business simulations and work-projects
  • Subject matter experts to inform and mentor participants
  • Practical methodologies for learning about lateral and vertical thinking models
  • Top-down support and follow-through to 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

Our business acumen training program is designed specifically to be a strategic fit; meaning our proven curriculum serves as the foundational content that is customized to be relevant for your business, industry and strategic priorities.

Logistics - What is the format for the Customized Business Acumen Programs?

Depending upon the goals and budget, we have programs that will meet almost any logistical requirements including:

  • Lunch-and-learns and brown-bag learning programs
  • Half-day to two-day programs
  • Virtual instructor-led training (vILT) (interactive, realtime online training)
  • We have on-site/off-site workshops (no public seminars available at this time)
  • Comprehensive change and development programs include a variety of the above formats plus team coaching, mentors, e-learning options, and a la carte components.

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.

See also our Strategic and Critical Thinking and Business/Commercial Acumen Training FAQ’s here.

Learning and development programs that develop business acumen, critical and creative thinking, financial acumen, and strategic thinking skills, enable employees to understand how their own actions affect business results and how their input makes a difference to the organization's sustainability. Effective business simulation training also builds teamwork and engagement, empowering individual contributors and managers to move together as an organization, innovating and adapting to the ever-evolving landscape of business. Developing business acumen within your employees can turn them into a powerful asset, as they are educated, knowledgeable and motivated, in turn positioning the company for success.

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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.