The Company Board debrief at the end of a recent 2-day workshop provided clear examples of several benefits of using this tool:
- connection of the simulation to the client’s real world
- clarification of real-world issues
- development of Finance personnel as go-to friends
- reinforcement of the uniqueness of Income/Outcome
1) It is an immediate Aha! experience for many participants when they see their company modeled in the same format as the game board. Yes, the illustration of their last Annual Report may be on the back of their workbook, but seeing it physically represented with chips on a large board puts them in the emotional state of managing their company. And now they can see their profitability and their leverage and other key ratios as tangible realities that they can understand.
2) A recent strategic acquisition by the client was an issue that all employees were familiar with as a business issue, but many had a hard time grasping its financial impact. How important was it? How did it affect the company? How much benefit does it add, what did it cost?
I hadn’t prepped for this part of the presentation, but that wasn’t necessary. I was still able to illustrate immediately the points being made by the Finance manager who I was working with. Having set up a company board, we could lift off (and replace) the Goodwill and a matching amount of debt (about 4 stacks each) to show what a debt-financed acquisition does to the company. The acquisition also added about a stack of Sales to the top line… but only added a few black chips to the bottom line.
The above details may be inaccurate, but the point is this: you can illustrate a particular event on the Company Board, and put its financial importance into perspective relative to the overall operation of the business. This in turn clarifies whether an event is critical or peripheral, and develops a better understanding of the company’s needs.
3) This process then increases the credibility of the Finance Department, and establishes the Finance manager involved in the presentation as a go-to person for problems, questions and suggestions for business improvement. Be careful, Finance managers, in getting involved with Income/Outcome! People will learn to trust you and like you, and they will even want to talk to you!
4) And a final benefit for us is that this process demonstrates the unique strengths that Income/Outcome and the Company Board have, in being structured in such a way as to reflect complete financial statements. What we provide is an unmatched tool for visualizing financial information, doing it in a way that links the Income Statement to the Balance Sheet, and causing the instantaneous prioritization of information: key ratios stand out, and problem areas are immediately and painfully obvious, even to finance novices.
The Company Board is extremely powerful, the single strongest thing that we offer. It is crucially important. If you have stories of its use, or suggestions for improved use, please share them!