What is a Business Wargame?

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you're not sure what to do next? If so, then business wargaming may be for you! Business wargaming is a strategy simulation tool that helps business owners make better decisions by allowing them to visualize different scenarios and their outcomes.

In this blog post, we will discuss what business wargaming is and how you can use it as a strategic tool to improve your business!

Wargaming was first used by the military to help plan and prepare for battle. Business wargames are a variation of this concept developed specifically for businesses. It allows business owners to visualize different scenarios and their outcomes, which helps them make better decisions.

It is different from traditional strategic planning in many ways - primarily in its focus on the behavior of other market stakeholders such as competitors, regulators, and the economy.

What are the different types of business war games?

There are two main types of business wargaming:

Scenario wargaming:

This type of business war game allows business owners to explore different scenarios and their outcomes. This can be helpful for strategic planning decisions about things like product launches, mergers and acquisitions, and marketing campaigns. Tactical games can be used to evaluate the likelihood of success for a given scenario.

Strategic wargaming:

This type of war game is used to help businesses make long-term decisions about things like their business model and competitive strategy. Strategic business war games can be an important component of a competitive intelligence plan.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when using business wargaming:

  • Make sure you have a clear goal for the simulation.
  • Be realistic in your assumptions and calculations.
  • Be prepared to make changes to your plan based on the results of the simulation.

By playing out different scenarios, you can see what strategies work and which ones don't. This information can help you make better decisions about how to compete in the market and stay ahead of the curve.

Who is a good fit for a business war game?

Do you have what it takes to be a successful business wargamer? In order to get the most out of a business war game, you need to be able to think strategically and make realistic assumptions.

You also need to be prepared to make changes to your plan based on the results of the simulation. If you can do all that, then business wargaming may be right for you!

War games are more successful when an organization has access to market research and competitive intelligence which helps to inform the teams with insights about their markets, their brands, and their competitors.

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What are business wargames used for?

War gaming can be used in a number of ways, such as forecasting demand, testing new products or services, creating a competitive advantage, or assessing the impact of mergers and acquisitions. It can also help identify potential problems early on before they become too costly or difficult to fix.

Some other purposes of wargames are :

  • To improve decision making
  • To identify and assess risk
  • To evaluate business models
  • To develop competitive strategies
  • To deeply analyze the competitive environment
  • To apply sophisticated market research
  • To develop competitive intelligence

How are wargames different than scenario planning?

A flowchart depicting a decision tree starts with a single "Key Decision" leading to two outcomes. Each outcome branches into multiple scenarios, representing various final outcomes such as "Outcome 1," "Outcome 2," and "Outcome 3." This is perfect for visualizing an asymmetric marketing strategy for your Madison WI agency.

Scenario planning is a process that makes assumptions about the future and how your business will be affected. Scenario planning does not delve into the behavior of external players in the same way a war game does.

A business war game can help to better understand the competitive background and how your company stacks up against the competition.

Competing companies can be used as allies or enemies in the game, giving you a better understanding of how strategic initiatives might work in certain situations.

The competitive dynamics of your marketplace can be explored in much more depth with a war game than through any other means.

A business wargaming exercise can be an opportunity for team building. Participants will need to work together in order to be successful and achieve the objectives of the game. This can help build trust and cooperation within your team.

How does the wargame process work?

Business wargaming is a strategic simulation process that can be summarized into three steps: setting the game up, running the game, and getting insights from the game.

Most wargame projects are run as role-playing sessions in at least two separate games.  Its overall purpose is to help a business make informed decisions.

In order to set up a successful business wargame, you need to define the objectives of the game, identify the players, and determine the scenario.

The next step is to run the game by simulating different strategic moves and tracking the outcomes.

Finally, you need to analyze and discuss the results of the game with your team in order to get insights that can help improve your business.

War games are usually conducted with several different cross-functional teams representing:

  • a market team, who is responsible for playing the role of customers and representing their interests. The market team plays a very important role that is often overlooked;
  • a competitor team, which role plays the actions of your most significant competitors. There may be up to three competitor teams in a war game.
  • a company team, who is responsible for playing the role of the business;
  • a control team, who is responsible for recording and interpreting the results of the game;
  • and a referee, who oversees the game and ensures that everyone follows the rules.


A flowchart titled "How Does Business Wargaming Work?" illustrates the interaction between "Client Company," "Competitor A," "Competitor B," and "Competitor C" with offerings, market-share, and financial effects. Multiple teams (Company, Competitor, Judge, Market) play roles in this asymmetric marketing strategy.

War games can also help to build team morale by giving employees a chance to work together towards a common goal. This type of activity can help strengthen relationships between senior managers their team members.  They also encourage increased communication between team members.

The insights gained from a business war game can help you make better decisions about your company's future and stay ahead of the competition.

The next step is to take the insights gleaned from the wargaming exercise and put them into action. This may involve changes to business processes, policies, or even the overall strategy.

It's important that everyone involved in the wargame understands what actions need to be taken based on the results so that they can continue implementing them after the game is over.

Business wargaming is a powerful tool for evaluating the business situation and improving decision-making in the business.

It allows managers to test their assumptions about how their business works and identifies potential problems before they become actual problems.

This isn't always easy though; change can be difficult for organizations of any size. But if you want your company to stay ahead of the competition, it's essential that you're constantly looking for new ways to improve. And what better way to do that than by using insights from a business wargame?

Flowchart showing competitors’ plans/actions, your company's plans/execution, and other factors affecting your success. Competitors’ plans include new forms and direct/indirect competition. Your company’s plans include vision, strategy, projects, and execution overseen by our marketing agency in Madison WI. Other factors include government policies, economy, technology, market trends, industry shifts, and unknowns.

What are the benefits of business wargaming?

There are many benefits to using business war gaming as a tool for strategic thinking. Some of the key benefits include:

  • improved decision-making
  • a better understanding of the competition
  • increased team morale and cooperation
  • insights that can help improve business processes, policies, and strategy.

Strategy is often a core competency of companies, but wargames are not commonly used. A war game can be a real game-changer for a company that needs to evaluate the competitive setting and anticipate potential outcomes of various actions.

How can I get started?

There are a number of different software packages that allow you to run business war games. The most popular ones are:

- Crystal Ball

- Insight Maker

- OnStrategy

Each of these packages has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you will need to decide which one is right for you. You can also find a number of business wargaming templates online that you can use as a starting point for your own simulations.

But one of the best ways to benefit from a business war game is to engage a consulting agency like Asymmetric with experience in this field. They will be able to help you set up a wargaming workshop, run it, and analyze the results.

Business wargame resources

If you want to run a war game for your organization, there are a few resources you can use to get started.

Wargames can play a major role in leadership development in a company. The Harvard Business Review wrote an excellent article "Wargaming Is More than a Rehearsal" that examined the role of war games in the military.

Daniel F Oriesek, a Principal with A.T. Kearney in Switzerland wrote an excellent primer on business wargaming entitled "Business Wargaming - Securing Corporate Value."

A wooden Go board with a grid of 19x19 lines is filled with black and white stones in a complex arrangement. There are three woven containers around the board holding additional black and white stones. The background is a plain light surface, reminiscent of the strategic sophistication found in an asymmetric marketing campaign by a top marketing agency in Madison, WI.

If you're looking for something more hands-on, there are companies that offer training in business wargaming. These courses provide participants with the skills and knowledge needed to run a successful war game.

So, whether you're just getting started or you're looking for more advanced resources, there's something out there for everyone interested in business wargaming.

Finally, business wargaming is an invaluable tool for improving decision-making in businesses of all sizes. If you're looking for a way to get insights that you can't find anywhere else, then this is the tool for you!

The role of war games in strategy planning

War games have been used for centuries as a way to train commanders in the art of war. But these days, businesses are using war games to help with strategy.

What is business strategy planning?

Business strategy planning is the process of defining a company's long-term goals and developing a plan to achieve them. This includes identifying the resources needed, setting deadlines, and allocating responsibilities.

Often the use of a strategic game can help a company illustrate the impact of a range of strategy options. The use of wargames can drive an improvement in strategic thinking in an organization.

A war game can be a real game-changer for a company that needs to evaluate the competitive landscape and anticipate potential outcomes of various actions.

A business wargame can help a company overcome existing mental models and think creatively to address highly complex situations. Cognitive barriers and conventional wisdom are often key obstacles to the development of an effective strategic plan.

Flowchart titled "Business Wargaming" showing how this approach enhances traditional strategic planning. Steps include: Assessment of Strategic Variables, Strategy Development, Choosing a Strategy, Testing the Selected Strategy, and Lessons Learned. Ideal for marketing agencies in Madison WI exploring asymmetric marketing strategies.

Next steps

Whichever route you choose, I'm sure you will find that business strategy development using war games can be an extremely valuable tool for improving your understanding of how businesses operate and making better decisions.

Use a Business Wargame in Your Business

Asymmetric, led by former Army Delta Force operator and corporate executive, Mark Hope, can help you implement these ideas in your business. You can contact Mark by email at mark.hope@asymmetric.pro, or by telephone at +1 608-410-4450, or you can schedule a complimentary strategy discussion by clicking here.  You can read all of his articles on Medium.

A dynamic scene of a battle between two robots in a destroyed cityscape. The gray robot on the left, much like the powerful strategies devised by Madison WI's top marketing agency, smashes the ground with force, while the red robot on the right is agile and precise, firing an energy beam. Debris and smoke fill the air.

Mark Hope - Asymmetric

Mark Hope

Mark A. Hope is a co-founder and Partner 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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