It’s Wargame Season – Use One to Build a Better Business Plan

For all of us in business, we're rapidly approaching the dreaded "business plan" season. During my time at The Coca-Cola Company, we spent almost all of October and November crafting massive business plans, complete with extensive presentation decks tailored for senior management.

Even if your company (hopefully) doesn't dedicate quite as much time to crafting inflexible and overly complex business plans, the truth remains that nearly every company has a business plan process.

Business Planning

As we gear up for the business plan process, now is the opportunity to engage in tabletop and wargame exercises. These exercises are dynamic tools to explore ideas, providing invaluable insights before these concepts enter the formal business plan.

Understanding the Dynamics of Wargame Exercises

A wargame exercise is a captivating and illuminating strategic simulation that deftly fuses creativity with practicality.

Its origins can be traced back to military strategy games, where commanders meticulously plan their moves and anticipate their adversaries' actions.

Over time, this concept has gracefully evolved, transcending its military roots to become a versatile tool applicable across various industries.

In business, a wargame exercise is akin to orchestrating a grand symphony of strategy, innovation, and anticipation. It systematically explores what-ifs and what-may-be, providing an invaluable opportunity to navigate the intricate labyrinth of decision-making.

At its core, a wargame exercise bridges the theoretical and the pragmatic, a space where ideas are tested, hypotheses are examined, and strategies are honed.

How Does a Wargame Exercise Work?

This dynamic exercise unfolds by simulating intricate and multifaceted scenarios, much like a chessboard where every piece represents a variable in the business landscape.

Like skilled chess players, participants embody various roles within the organization. These roles might encompass a spectrum from top-level executives to operational managers, each responsible for different facets of the enterprise's functioning.

This role-playing isn't merely an academic exercise – it's a voyage into the heart of strategy, where participants must think, decide, and act within the boundaries of their designated roles.

What Makes a Wargame Exercise Unique?

What sets a wargame exercise apart is its emphasis on anticipatory thinking. Much like a chess master visualizes several moves ahead, participants must navigate the hypothetical landscape and predict the consequences of their actions.

What Makes a Wargame Exercise Unique?

It's an artful blend of creative brainstorming and pragmatic foresight, demanding a deep understanding of the organization's dynamics, market trends, competitor behaviors, and industry regulations.

As the exercise progresses through its simulated rounds, decisions made by participants cascade and interweave, emulating the intricate interplay of real-world choices. The result is an unfolding narrative of strategic moves and countermoves akin to the pages of a riveting business novel.

However, unlike a novel, this narrative is influenced by the participants' collective intelligence, knowledge, and insights.

What is the Objective of a Wargame Exercise?

A wargame exercise aims to emerge with theoretical strategies and battle-tested approaches. It's a forge where the raw material of ideas is shaped, tempered, and refined into actionable plans.

By immersing themselves in these simulations, participants develop an acute sense of how strategies interact, what challenges might emerge unexpectedly, and where opportunities are hidden. This immersive experience nurtures adaptability, critical thinking, collaboration, and a deep appreciation for the complexities of the business ecosystem.

A wargame exercise is more than a simulation; it's a journey. A journey that propels participants beyond the boundaries of their comfort zones, urging them to think beyond the obvious, challenge assumptions, and embrace the uncertainty that often accompanies strategic decision-making.

A Wargame is a Journey

As businesses continue to evolve and navigate a dynamic landscape, the wargame exercise remains an invaluable compass, guiding leaders and teams towards strategies that aren't just visionary on paper but resilient and robust in practice.

So, as the winds of business planning season draw near, consider embarking on this transformative journey – a journey that starts with the subtle shuffle of chess pieces on the board but evolves into a symphony of strategic brilliance. It's wargame season, a time to explore, innovate, and prepare for challenges and opportunities.

Distinguishing Wargame and Tabletop Exercises

While both wargame and tabletop exercises stand united by the grand purpose of strategy testing, a closer examination reveals distinctions that offer unique insights into organizational dynamics and readiness.

Tabletop Exercises: Precision in Preparedness

Imagine a scenario where the unexpected strikes – perhaps a cyberattack, a natural disaster, or a supply chain disruption. This is where tabletop exercises come into play.

These exercises are precision instruments designed to hone an organization's preparedness for various emergency scenarios. They are finely crafted instruments that orchestrate focused drills, allowing teams to assess their response strategies methodically.

Tabletop exercises are like spotlight examinations. Their concentration lies in dissecting specific challenges and testing the efficiency of pre-established emergency plans. Participants, often critical stakeholders from various departments, gather around a symbolic table (or, these days, a virtual one) to discuss, debate, and strategize their responses to the given scenario.

These exercises spotlight the strengths and gaps within the organization's crisis management mechanisms.

Wargame Exercises: The Strategic Symphony

Enter the wargame exercise, a broader and more elaborate canvas where strategy unfolds like a symphony. These exercises delve deep into the heart of strategic decision-making, mirroring the complexity of the business environment.

Rather than focusing on a single emergency scenario, wargame exercises create a rich tapestry of multifaceted scenarios akin to a chessboard where every move ripples.

Wargame exercises are akin to a full-spectrum strategic exploration.

They simulate a complex ecosystem where variables interlace and where every choice holds the potential to send cascading ripples of impact. Picture a dynamic business landscape with market shifts, competitor actions, regulatory changes, and technological advancements.

Wargame Exercises: The Strategic Symphony

Wargame exercises introduce these elements as puzzle pieces, inviting participants to navigate their strategic decisions through a labyrinth of interconnections.

Participants immerse themselves in these scenarios, embracing various roles within the organization, and making choices that shape the organization's trajectory.

These choices cascade, leading to subsequent rounds that mirror the dynamic evolution of real-world decision-making. Here, it's not just about responding to a single emergency but crafting strategies that resonate across many possibilities.

The exercise becomes an intricate dance of creativity and pragmatism, a stage where participants synthesize their insights, experience, and intuition.

The beauty of wargame exercises lies in their power to offer a panoramic view. They illuminate the interconnectedness of strategies, revealing how a decision in one department reverberates through the entire organization. This broader perspective encourages cross-functional understanding, fostering collaboration and enabling participants to embrace the art of strategic maneuvering.

Similar, but Different

While tabletop exercises are like targeted rehearsals for specific scenarios, wargame exercises resemble a grand symphony where strategies harmonize, diverge, and intertwine. One sharpens the crisis response toolkit, while the other refine the strategic compass.

And as businesses navigate an ever-evolving landscape, the ability to wield precision and panoramic approaches can determine survival and triumph.

So, whether you're perfecting your organization's preparedness for the unexpected or orchestrating a symphony of strategies, remember that each exercise plays a pivotal role in steering your ship through the intricate waters of the business world.

As business planning season approaches, consider the spectrum of exercises at your disposal, recognizing the unique values each brings. It's a season of exploration, introspection, and strategic evolution – where wargames and tabletops align to empower your journey.

Strategic Preparations Elevated: Harnessing the Power of Wargame Exercises

In the intricate dance of business strategy, where every decision carries weight and every move sets the stage for the future, the concept of a "safe space" takes on new significance. Enter the wargame exercises – a controlled crucible where strategies are forged, tested, and honed, all before they step onto the grand stage of business reality.

A Laboratory for Strategy Experimentation

At its heart, the beauty of wargame exercises lies in their role as sophisticated laboratories for strategy experimentation. These exercises extend a unique invitation: an opportunity to don the hat of an explorer, a scientist, and a visionary all rolled into one.

By engaging in these simulations before the frenzied whirlwind of the business planning process, companies set the stage for profound insights, innovation, and adaptive resilience.

Rehearsing Strategies in a Controlled Environment

Consider wargame exercises as a rehearsal studio for your strategic ambitions. Just as actors rehearse their lines and choreography before opening night, organizations can rehearse their strategies within the forgiving walls of a simulated environment.

Here, the stakes are lower, the risks are contained, and the consequences are confined to the realm of imagination. It's a space where ideas can be unleashed, questioned, tweaked, and refined without fearing real-world repercussions.

Harmonizing a Symphony of Perspectives

This rehearsal extends beyond the individual players; it encompasses the collective genius of the entire team. As participants from various departments and levels of the organization immerse themselves in the wargame exercise, a symphony of perspectives emerges.

Harmonizing a Symphony of Perspectives

Insights from finance harmonize with market insights; operational realities interlace with marketing strategies. The result? A holistic exploration that mirrors the true complexity of real-world decision-making.

Navigating a Distinct Vantage Point

Organizations gain a distinct vantage point as the scenarios unfold within the simulated landscape. Potential pitfalls emerge like hidden landmines waiting to be defused through strategic adjustments.

Pivot points become evident, offering the chance to reroute strategies before they navigate the convoluted path of the business arena. Yet, it's not just about averting disasters; it's about spotting the sparkling gems of opportunities that might otherwise be obscured in the tumult of daily operations.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation

This incubation of strategies within wargame exercises cultivates an environment where innovation thrives. It's akin to the fertile soil of a garden where ideas take root, nurtured by the collaboration and creative sparks that the exercise fosters.

Teams, unburdened by the pressures of immediate execution, can explore bold ideas, challenge conventions, and imagine scenarios that might seem audacious under regular circumstances.

Galvanizing Collaboration and Cross-Functional Understanding

Moreover, wargame exercises galvanize collaboration. Participants learn to navigate the delicate art of alignment and compromise, a skill that serves them well when the real-world stakes are high. These exercises foster a culture where cross-functional understanding is cultivated, communication flows seamlessly, and silos crumble under the weight of collective endeavor.

Embrace the Transformative Potential

So, as the business planning season approaches, consider the transformative potential of wargame exercises. It's an invitation to step into the realm of possibility, to dance with ideas and strategies before the grand performance.

Embrace the Transformative Potential

It's a sanctuary where innovation is nurtured, collaboration is celebrated, and visions are refined. As you embark on this journey, remember that in business strategy, the greatest performances are often born from meticulous rehearsals, from the intricate choreography of wargame exercises that enable you to shine brightly on the stage of success.

Striking Harmony in Business Strategy: Balancing Offensive and Defensive Maneuvers

Within the dynamic theater of the business landscape, the strategy concept is akin to orchestrating a symphony – a harmonious blend of melodies encompassing both the bold crescendos of offense and the protective undertones of defense.

Just as a skilled composer interweaves various instruments to create a masterpiece, successful businesses harmonize offensive and defensive strategies to navigate the ebb and flow of uncertainty.

Picture the strategic battlefield as a chessboard, where every move carries consequences. Here, the distinction between offense and defense becomes pivotal.

While the allure of offense lies in the thrill of conquest and innovation, defense offers the assurance of resilience and preparedness. It's a delicate balancing act that distinguishes thriving organizations from the rest.

Embracing the Dual Nature of Strategy

In the grand tapestry of business, offensive and defensive strategies represent two sides of the same coin, each essential for holistic success.

Offensive strategies are the torchbearers of innovation and progress. Like knights charging across the board, they seek new avenues, explore uncharted territories, and capitalize on opportunities others might overlook.

But just as a knight's charge requires a fortified castle to retreat to, offensive strategies must be complemented by defensive fortifications. Defensive schemes, like the vigilant rooks guarding the corners, anticipate and brace against potential challenges.

These strategies are the sentinels of stability and resilience, shielding organizations from the unexpected storms that can brew in the business landscape. They encompass risk management, scenario planning, and the preparation needed to navigate disruptions while minimizing negative impact.

Creating Strategic Harmony

In the symphony of business strategy, the true magic lies in orchestrating these two forces – offense and defense – in seamless harmony.

Consider a scenario where an organization embarks on an ambitious market expansion (offense) while concurrently bolstering cybersecurity measures (defense). This dual approach safeguards the enterprise against potential risks arising from development, ensuring that growth doesn't come at the cost of vulnerability.

Creating Strategic Harmony

This strategic duality is particularly pertinent in the face of uncertainty. As a master chess player plans attacking and defensive moves, businesses must anticipate various possibilities. While offense fuels innovation and growth, defense provides a safety net, assuring stakeholders that the organization can navigate challenges without compromising its trajectory.

Leveraging Wargame Exercises to Fine-Tune the Balance

Wargame exercises shine as invaluable tools in striking this strategic harmony. These exercises simulate scenarios encompassing offensive and defensive elements, providing a fertile ground to explore how these strategies interact and influence each other.

The simulation is a laboratory where leaders and teams can witness the dynamic dance between bold exploration and prudent preparedness.

As wargame exercises unfold, participants encounter scenarios demanding offensive and defensive decision-making.

They witness firsthand the delicate equilibrium required to seize opportunities while guarding against potential setbacks. Organizations refine their strategies by engaging in these exercises and cultivate a nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness between offense and defense.

As the curtains rise on the business planning season, remember that a successful performance demands the harmonious convergence of offensive and defensive strategies. Just as a symphony needs both soaring crescendos and subtle refrains, businesses thrive when they embrace innovation and resilience in equal measure.

So, embrace the power of strategic harmony, let wargame exercises be your guide, and compose a symphony of success that resonates across the ever-evolving business landscape.

Your Wargame Journey with Asymmetric

Are you ready to revolutionize your strategic planning process? Look no further than Asymmetric.

Our specialized two-day wargame and tabletop exercise session are tailored to accommodate a group of six to nine participants from your company.

During these intensive days, we delve into up to three pivotal ideas or concepts that hold the potential to redefine your business strategies. Our skilled facilitators guide you through each scenario, fostering collaboration, innovation, and a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Asymmetric Wargaming

A Limited Offer

The standard cost for an exercise of this complexity and magnitude is $19,000.

However, we're thrilled to extend a limited-time offer to the first four companies that reach out.

Secure your spot now at a discounted rate of $14,500 and embark on a transformative journey to shape your business plan. Prepare for the future confidently, armed with insights, strategies, and a robust roadmap for success.

Contact Us Today

Contact us today to seize this exceptional offer and embark on a strategic planning odyssey. Embrace wargame exercises and tabletop sessions as powerful tools to elevate your business plan preparation. Step into a season of innovation and resilience – reach out now and secure your place among the visionary companies rewriting the playbook of success.

Mark Hope - Asymmetric

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 844-494-6903 or by email at mark.hope@asymmetric.pro. Read Mark's other work on Medium.

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