Crisis management templates, plans, and approaches never fully imagined a challenge as big as the COVID-19 pandemic. How can you develop appropriate and effective responses to the impact that this event will have on your business? Business wargaming is the optimal way to evaluate rapidly changing factors and for arriving at well-considered solutions.
What is a business wargame?
Business wargaming is an approach to help a business understand, anticipate, and prepare for events that are likely to have an impact on them. Whether you are worried about the impact of a competitor’s actions on your market share, an emerging technology that may hurt your business, or an event that has the potential to derail your plans, business wargaming provides the framework to evaluate these challenges.
Our Asymmetric Wargame Framework helps you understand the impact that new forms of competition, indirect competition, and direct competitors may have on your plans and execution. The framework also considers the impact of “uncontrollables” such as government and regulatory actions, the economy, technology, market trends, industry rationalization, or other unknowns. The COVID-19 pandemic fits perfectly into our model as an Exigent Unknown Event, meaning something that would be virtually impossible to fully anticipate, but that will have a huge (and perhaps existential) impact on your business. A massive Black Swan event.
The Asymmetric Wargame Framework
Wargame exercises are group events that are designed to consider how these external factors might play out and what effect they might have on your business. The most common type of business wargame is focused on the potential actions of competitors and the impact of those actions on your business. But wargame exercises that evaluate the impact of uncontrollable events are an excellent way to create crisis management plans or contingency plans.
We start a wargame by conducting a training session on the principles of conflict. We use both ancient concepts such as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, historical studies on conflict such as Carl von Clausewitz’s On War, and modern principles of conflict and warfare. These tenets form a good understanding of principles that apply to the situational analysis of challenging scenarios. Additionally, we introduce a range of strategy frameworks that serve as tools for a deeper understanding of various competitive or conflict-driven situations. These frameworks include Porter’s Five-Forces, the SWOT Analysis, Blue Ocean Strategy, PESTLE, and Scenario Planning. Depending upon the situation, we may draw upon a range of other frameworks that assist in generating viable strategic solutions to situations posed in the wargame exercise.
Typically, the group is divided up into three or four groups, each representing a different player. One represents the company, this is known as the “home team.” Other teams may represent key competitors, markets, or uncontrollable elements. The teams break out into separate sessions to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their role and to arrive at some early strategies to effectively defeat the home team. The home team does a deep dive into their own strengths and weaknesses and attempts to anticipate likely initiatives from the other teams. After the first breakout session, the teams each present their work, with the home team bearing the brunt of the other teams’ work.
There are usually two to three additional sessions where the teams make additional moves to manage the reactions of their adversaries. The process is usually very interesting, energizing, and it serves as an excellent form of team building.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
This event is such an epic black swan event that any attempt to fully anticipate it and the associated implications on our health, our society, our economy, and our business, would have been impossible.
Given that it is happening right before our eyes, we need to activate our energy, intelligence, experience, and resources to find a response that will help to secure the future of our business. There are very few ways to go about analyzing such a black swan event and its potential impact on our business that are better suited to the task than a business wargame exercise.
The purpose of the exercise is to attempt to fully dimensionalize the situation and to utilize a variety of frameworks to generate alternative strategies to address it. The outcome is a common understanding of the situation and the various strategic initiatives that are proposed. The company’s leadership will then have a tool to use in the final development and implementation of plans, projects, programs, and tactical execution that are all designed to protect the business and to ultimately improve the operating results of the organization.
Wargaming is a unique approach and the principles and frameworks used to develop strategies during the process are not commonly employed by business leaders in their routine strategy development process. Asymmetric has extensive experience in the design and execution of highly effective business wargame exercises to address the most challenging situations. Contact us today to let us help you put together a plan to help your business survive this crisis (and ultimately to thrive once it is behind us).