Making Smart Business Decisions in a VUCA World

The dictionary defines "acumen" as the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions. 

In today's VUCA world - filled with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity - this is more challenging than ever. Managers need to work with incomplete information, account for multiple trade-offs, and increasingly incorporate diverse perspectives and longer-term environmental and social impacts.

WholeWorks has, for two decades, pioneered the use of hands-on business simulation learning experiences to develop four highly relevant skills for top-tier multinational clients: 1) Financial Acumen, 2) Business Systems Thinking, 3) Strategic Thinking, and 4) Decision Making with Uncertainty.


Case Study: Fact-Based Decision-Making and Value Creation at Nike

Nike's top executives wanted managers to better understand the impact of their decisions across a large matrix organization. A custom WholeWorks simulation-based program for 1,400 managers gave worldwide teams of managers the experience of jointly creating shareholder value through fact-based decision making - and helpled usher in a new era of prosperity. 

Matt Mayberry with WholeWorks was truly an invaluable asset to the development of Nike’s Line of Sight program. He seamlessly flowed into our organization, worked with senior executives to glean the key business levers and hot points in the organization, and developed a robust simulation that has helped over 1,000 Nike leaders apply new skills in a fast-paced environment.
— Julie Bulrice, (former) Director Training and Development, Nike Inc.

Four Dimensions of Modern Business Acumen

Financial Acumen

Financial results are a central criterion for assessing business decisions, so our training programs provide a working command of fundamental financial concepts, language, metrics, and reporting. The simulation environment goes beyond abstract concepts to give managers hands-on practice applying new financial skill to their real-life decisions – so they develop clear lines of sight between their actions and drivers of revenue growth, profitability, cash flow, and shareholder value.

Because our workshops are highly customized, we incorporate your company’s specific metrics and unique business model. Creating this common language is essential for achieving your financial objectives.

Business Systems Thinking

It can be challenging for managers to grasp how actions in one functional area impact others in hidden ways, especially when effects might not become apparent for months or years.

We research your organization’s unique structure, processes, and culture, so we can illustrate these interconnections. Our simulations help managers experience how their actions ripple out – and they quickly learn better ways of working and achieving together.

And because participants figure this out on their own, through experimentation, feedback, and adjustment, the lessons learned are quickly internalized and immediately applicable.

Strategic Thinking

Today’s world is unforgiving of static strategic plans based on a predictable future. Managers at all levels need to constantly assess changing marketplace conditions -- including disruptive threats from beyond their industry.

Learning these big-picture skills on the job is difficult and risky, because strategic mistakes are costly and their impacts can be invisible until it's too late. Our custom “practice field” simulations let managers experience a variety of relevant scenarios in a compressed time frame, so they can safely experiment and gain experience. Afterwards, they’re better at spotting real-world patterns and opportunities, and acting effectively.

Decision Making with Uncertainty

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In a complex, changing world, initiatives like product development, geographic expansion, and technology investment are more like ongoing experiments than one-time decisions – moving quickly is essential, but pre-committing to the wrong path can be fatal.

Today’s leaders need to be comfortable thinking in terms of probabilities, options, risks, and scenarios. And they need to act by forming hypotheses, testing strategies, reviewing outcomes, and adjusting as needed.

This is a big shift in mindset; our realistically complex simulations help managers learn to address uncertainty through experimentation, and act decisively while keeping options open.

Learn more . . .