Program: NIKE Line of Sight

Timeframe:  2000 - 2007

Participants: 1,400

Industry: Sports footwear, apparel, and equipment

Program Partner: Organization Systems International (OSI)

Nike's top executives wanted managers to better understand the impact of their decisions across the large matrix organization. A custom simulation-based program, developed with our partner OSI, gave worldwide teams of managers the experience of creating shareholder value together through fact-based decision making - ushering in a new era of prosperity at Nike. 

There had been a seismic shift in our business. We had to find a way to nurture our unequalled culture of creativity and authentic sport while introducing concepts of commercialization and ROI. Customizing our business/leadership experience in a unique business simulation became a catalyst for strategic conversations while protecting the fundamentals of our culture.
— Jeff Cava, former Chief Human Resources Officer, NIKE Inc.

Situation

  • Nike's managers were passionate about sports and fitness, and had leveraged it into two decades of product innovation, brand leadership, and financial growth.
  • But revenue growth and share price were stalled, and senior executives felt that important business decisions needed to be based less on emotions and more on facts and financial understanding.
  • The global organization's large size and matrix structure made it difficult for managers to see how their individual decisions impacted overall corporate results.
  • The fast-paced culture of Nike meant that any training experience had to be highly engaging and directly relevant to managers' day jobs.
Photo by vinnstock/iStock / Getty Images

Program Goal

To give senior managers a practice field for fact-based decision making and provide a line of sight across the company, so they could see how their individual decisions impacted the overall business results and shareholder value.


Our Approach

  • In partnership with Organization Systems International (OSI), WholeWorks developed a four-day simulation-based leadership program (Line of Sight) to build competencies in fact-based decision making, finance, and business acumen.
  • Over 1,400 senior-level managers participated in the program worldwide over a seven-year period.
  • Prior to the development of Line of Sight, OSI developed a custom competency model for Nike. This model provided an integrated framework for Nike's ongoing talent development, including 360 surveys, and Line of Sight program evaluation.
  • Executives at Nike played a direct role in developing the Line of Sight program. They also served as faculty, and sponsored follow-up projects.
  • The centerpiece of the Line of Sight program was a three-day custom simulation of a fictional snowboarding company based closely on Nike's business model. The simulation reinforced Nike's performance-focused sports culture, while adding new financial decision-making skills. Nike opted for a custom simulation to ensure that managers were learning in the context of their unique business model. (See sample program materials below.)
  • Participant teams managed the virtual business over seven years and applied financial concepts as they implemented their strategies in pursuit of growth targets.
  • We used hands-on workshops to build participants’ skills in team decision-making and shareholder value creation; these new skills were immediately applied in the simulation (just-in-time learning). 
  • Participants completed follow-up projects where they applied what they learned to improve business results in their areas of responsibility and then reported outcomes to their executive sponsors.

Inside edge Inc.'s annual report

Edge Inc. organizational chart

Simulation output report p. 1: Financial summary

Portion of edge Inc. supply chain model

Sample edge Inc. memo


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 of Training and Development, Nike Inc.

Results

  • Because the simulation accurately reproduced the company culture and the cross-role tensions of the matrix organization, participants reported they could immediately apply their decision-making training in their daily work.
  • The program helped the company develop a common language and framework for financial decision-making across the organization—a contributing factor to their strong growth in revenue (x2), profitability, and stock price (x3) over the next decade.
  • Pre- and post-program tests showed that participants' knowledge of key concepts increased significantly as a result of the program.
  • In Europe, participants formed Action Learning teams to apply what they learned in follow-on projects. The financial benefit from these projects was estimated to be in the tens of millions, providing an ROI that far exceeded the cost of the program.
  • The program was awarded a Best in Practice Citation by the American Society of Training and Development (now ATD).
Source: Yahoo! Finance

Source: Yahoo! Finance

Valuable Learning Experience

The edge, Inc. simulation consistently received highest ratings from participants: 4.7/5.0 and above for learning value.

Representative participant responses to "Please share any overall comments about Line of Sight that you might have for your colleagues.":

  • "Great seminar with a lot of practical value. Experienced skills of sharing, working together in groups, delegating and decision making."
  • "Very useful training. Just do it!"
  • Excellent, high level course. Good opportunity for networking!
  • Great course, but prepare well. Be bold.
  • Great course. Take advantage of the expertise already within the group.
  • "Take advantage of opportunity – excellent course!"
  • "This is the best program at Nike I’ve ever taken!"
  • "Uncomfortable at first, great value at the end. Team building and fun."
  • "Very good course – tougher and more exhausting than expected. Very tense/tough simulations days – felt harder than “real” life as we were in different roles than day to day. Very good course."
  • "Overall, it was excellent…a great learning tool for Nike."