dibs.businessacumenDoing Is Believing: Get Your D.I.B.s on Business Acumen!   How can experiential learning highlight the key components of business acumen? How should business acumen be understood by managers? How can they enhance their skills, and achieve better results for the company?

I ran an Income/Outcome business competition two weeks ago, and the winning team stood out strongly, having not just the highest retained earnings at the end of the simulation, but also the strongest prospects for the future. I asked a member of that team, What caused your success?

Here is the 20-second answer:


His answer was true, but incomplete. What he failed to mention was that in addition to a well-managed cash flow and good teamwork, his team had been the only one (despite near pleading on my part) to spend money on pure information. Market research, in effect. Spent to get information on a previously undisclosed new product that was announced for the industry that all teams were competing in.

That information caused his team to change their production from the old to the new product, to be first to market, and to build an insurmountable lead in a growing market while their erstwhile competitors fought over a suddenly shrinking market.

But the team member was still correct: they would not have been able to afford that Market Research if they had not managed their Cash Flow carefully throughout! Some others could have bought the information, but chose not to. Others would have bought it, but couldn’t afford it. All teams were in a time of financial difficulty and cash flow crises. This was the only team that could both afford the cash and was willing to gamble on the value of new information in their own industry.

I believe that the greatest competitive advantage today lies in the speed and accuracy of the flow of information. And in the business world, information has to be in the language of finance.

But the flipside of that is, do people understand the big picture of the information flows they handle and the decisions that they make?

So the team member’s answer of “Cash flow and teamwork”, supplemented by “Market research”, shows how information, analysis and a team view of the situation can be seen as the creators of business acumen, and of financial success.

In our workshops we teach all these components: the language of finance… the forms of planning and analysis… tha value of information… the necessity of working as a team. And we do it through a highly engaging team competition that requires a holistic understanding of running the different departments of a company.

If you want D.I.Bbs on business acumen, visit us at ASTD. We’re at Booth 245 in the Expo, and hanging out in the Global Village, and we’d love to hear your needs!