Business acumen and strategic thinking training in San-francisco, CA

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

A company’s performance is measured by its ability to meet profitability and revenue goals. By helping your team improve their strategic thinking capacity and financial acumen, amongst other business acumen competencies, leaders are able to size up challenges, beneficially respond to opportunities and successfully drive results. Business acumen is a critical leadership competency that can and must be developed.

Evaluating strategic planning consultants? Our data-driven strategic alignment program actively facilitates your strategic plan while building business acumen. Call us at 281-469-4244 or visit our Strategic Planning process page to learn more.

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 from BTS and the Economist Intelligence Unit titled, Skills Mismatch: Business Acumen and Strategy Execution, based on a global survey of over three hundred executives, senior leaders and managers, across multiple industries and around the globe, overwhelmingly agree that insufficient business skills limit an organization's ability to realize strategic priorities. The study revealed two-thirds (over 65%) of corporate executives believe a lack of business skills, including business acumen, critical thinking, financial acumen, business case analysis, etc. inhibit their company from achieving strategic priorities.

Furthermore, the study revealed that the industry leaders, the strongest and most profitable organizations, contributed their success to business acumen competency. Within these organizations, this was viewed as critical and thus they actively developed leaders to be capable of understanding business analytics. This included programs to develop managers with targeted training and learning opportunities to cultivate their strategic thinking, critical thinking, financial acumen, and quality decision-making skills.

The report indicated that an effective business acumen training program must include both internal and external perspectives, including how to lead the business, business decision making capability, customer centricity, how to lead the value chain, and innovation, to name a few learning objectives. Overall a comprehensive understanding of the business, how it creates value and maintains profitability. Many organizations take this skill for granted when in fact, business acumen matter at all management levels of an organization.

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

Having business-savvy leaders (and managers) who understand business metrics, including top-line growth, margins, and cash flow, risk analysis, and how to best execute the company's strategies are key differentiators in achieving the organizational targets. A strong management mindset - the ability to see the whole picture, to analyze reports and make quality financial decisions; to analyze quickly and be decisive, to fully realize and understand the goals and to visualize what must be done are business acumen competencies that the leaders and managers in your company or organization must possess to optimally contribute to your company's success.

While the language of "growth" and "profitability" may change for various business structures, business acumen competency is still a critical skill set required across all for-profit, non-profit, benefit corporations and public sector organizations.
As you look across your organization, you'll no doubt, observe some leaders who have a more natural talent for thinking strategically than others. However, because many organizations fail to encourage a business mindset at all levels, we find that mid-level and frontline managers' business acumen skills atrophy without use and development.

Most managers have not been expected to think critically or analyze the processes, metrics, financial indicators, etc. in order to contribute more deliberately to the organization's goals. Let's think about this for a minute. What are the consequences when a manager is unaware of how their decisions impact the bottom-line? What happens when a leader recognizes an opportunity to improve a process or has an innovative idea that would address a business problem, but ignores their instincts because all the decisions are made top-down?

When an organization ignores business acumen skill development, or haphazardly expects managers to get "on-the-job" experiences related to driving business value, the results are lackluster at best. On the other hand, developing critical thinking skills via a strategy for managers training, for example, can help leaders gain strategic thinking and financial acumen confidence. In fact, the simple act of discussing business acumen with employees fosters self-initiation and encourages managers to be courageous in sharing their ideas and bold in implementing solutions.

Imagine a culture where your employees are inspired and encouraged to think strategically and self-initiate improvements - a deliberately cultivated "Kaizen" state of mind. Kaizen is a Sino-Japanese word meaning improvement and business kaizen is about cross-organizational, employee-driven continuous improvement. A Kaizen culture encourages process and business improvements from the C-Suite to the frontline, by expecting all employees to think critically and thoughtfully about the business and their role in contributing to the business results.

When managers are provided opportunities to develop their critical thinking, strategic thinking, and business and financial acumen skills, they engage more passionately with their peers and commit more fully to the business goals.
Let's gain some clarity around how a leader who is unskilled in the competency of business acumen demonstrates their business acumen gap. Watch carefully and you'll find clues that they do not understand how businesses work or they are not up-to-date on the industry trends, technology, and the mission or priorities. Perhaps they ignore or do not know who the competition is or lack interest in process improvement or general business metrics or they are so dedicated as a functional or professional expert, but all critical thinking is reserved for functional application only.

The bottom line is business acumen and strategy for managers training programs ensure a strong competitive advantage, employees that are eager to contribute, as they understand the bigger vision, and enables your team to meet or exceed your company's goals.

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 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.