Business Wargaming

A core challenge for all businesses is to understand, anticipate, and prepare for competitive activity in the marketplace. Many business plans contain a section on competition, but the level of detail is often woefully inadequate to arrive at any sort of meaningful understanding of the competitive landscape. Business wargaming can be a powerful way to address this competitive landscape.

Business wargames are designed to dive deeply into the competitive environment and to gain a robust understanding of how competitors may behave and what options are available to each. Additionally, wargames usually consider “uncontrollable” elements such as regulation, economy, weather, market trends, and technology.

The Asymmetric Wargame Framework

The Asymmetric Business Wargame Framework

The Asymmetric approach to business wargaming is to identify the primary competitors in a given marketplace – usually competing companies, brands, or products. We start with a deep dive into the existing market research, including studies on consumer behavior, pricing, brand awareness, and any other insights that may be available.

A team approach is ideal. Wargames are most effective when a cross-functional group of people, from a range of different levels of seniority, are assembled into three to four teams consisting of approximately six people each. One team represents the “home team,” or the client company’s brand or product. Teams two and three each represent one of the most significant competitors in the marketplace. The fourth team represents “the market,” – such elements as regulation, government intervention, the economy, technology, etc.

We like to start wargame sessions with a half-day session that covers concepts of conflict such as The Art of War, and other principles of military strategy. An introduction to competitive strategies and frameworks, such as Blue Ocean Strategy, Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT Analysis, and Strategic Group Analysis is presented so that the team has access to similar tools and models during the wargame process.

The Asymmetric SWOT Analysis Framework

The remainder of the first day and all of the second day are divided into a series of sessions where the teams break out to evaluate the situation, to analyze their competition using the frameworks, and to develop a range of competitive strategies and tactics designed to exploit their unique set of strengths and weaknesses in the context of their competition. After each break-out session, the teams come back together to present their findings – often in a highly energized, fun, and competitive environment.

In the end, the work is condensed into a findings report that is then used by the company’s leadership and marketing teams to design strategies, plans, campaigns, and contingency plans – all designed to address the unique competitive situation that the company is facing.

The unique nature of business wargames provides robust insights into the fundamental nature of the competition that is not possible from simple desk-top analysis.

Asymmetric Applications Group specializes in a range of unique and highly-effective marketing, insights, and strategy processes and programs. To learn more about how Asymmetric can help your business win in the uneven battle that you face each day, give us a call at 866-364-3908 or contact us by email at [email protected].



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Mark Hope

Mark A. Hope is the founder and CEO of Asymmetric Marketing – a unique agency specializing in building high-performing sales and marketing systems, campaigns, processes, and strategies for small businesses. Asymmetric has extensive experience with organizations across many industry segments. If you would like some help in implementing ideas like these in this article, feel free to give Mark a call at 866-607-3593 or by email at [email protected]
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