Steve Mosley

Real-Life Simulation Produces Real Results at Fortune 500 Telecom Company

We did it. We successfully trained a group of 300 directors and vice presidents in core leadership values. Now it was time to find a company that could put the cherry on top.blueline-partner2

I wanted an immersive classroom experience that would build strategic thinking skills and adaptable decision-making in a competitive and dynamic environment. I needed something that would test participants’ behaviors against their newly learned values as much as their executive acumen.

There were dozens of providers to sort through – all touting their simulation solutions as the “most advanced,” “easiest to deploy,” “best immersion” and so on. I didn’t have the time or experience to sort out the best from among them.

Then I came across Blueline Simulations, which had already done the research to identify simulations and providers with the highest customer satisfaction. They also offered program and project management resources, meaning we could do everything from negotiating terms to planning our implementation to conducting the simulation itself.

We selected Blueline Simulations’ Executive Challenge™, a competitive multiplayer simulation that puts participants on the leadership team of a virtual company.

We conducted roughly 15 sessions over a two-year period. Each delivery built on the one before as we refined the training simulation in ways that made it feel as if it had been designed just for us. The work we did on debriefs and adverse events to help “customize” the experience made it that much more relevant to the audience.

Attendees were tasked with growing a virtual business by investing in and producing product lines, responding to market demands, and balancing time, capital and human resources. Throughout the simulation, teams evaluated the sustainability of a business and the long-term implications of short-term decisions; acknowledged personal management styles and leadership blind spots; balanced personal and organizational objectives; collaborated to solve complex business problems; defined a clear strategic vision as a team; and implemented the vision in the face of adverse events.

Teams prepared presentations at the end of the simulation and delivered them to a board of directors composed of company executives. The board chose a winner based on strategy, financial performance, team effectiveness, ability to handle adverse events, adherence to program competencies, sustainability and overall presentation quality.

Participants found the simulation invaluable. They experienced the challenges of being results-focused leaders while using behavior and relationship skills in their interactions with fellow team members. They rated the experience highly, remarking on “how the pressure, the competitiveness, the unexpected turn of events really tested their ability to work collaboratively to make good decisions and to execute against them.”

Blueline was the perfect partner and solution to bring all the work of leadership assessments, coaching and training together in an innovative, engaging and practical way that was useful and memorable to my directors and vice presidents. They comment about it to this day.

Simulation Develops Results Focused Leaders at Fortune 300 Company (Part 1)

In my previous life as the head of Alltel University, and owner of its leadership development programs, I went in search of a capstone training event for the program we designed for 300 Directors and Vice Presidents across the organization. Having provided 360 assessments, external coaching, and internal workshops to this group on its Core Leadership Values, I wanted an immersive experience that would build strategic thinking skills and adaptable decision-making in a competitive and dynamic environment that would test participants behaviors against the Values, as much as their Executive acumen.

Extensive research went in to understanding the current market offerings in the simulation field, as I felt this would give us our best chance to provide a memorable, yet practical experience for our attendees. Participants in the program represented various organizational functions including customer service, sales, legal, marketing, engineering, products and finance.

My challenge was that there were dozens of providers to sort through! All touted their simulation solution as the “most advanced, “ “easiest to deploy,”  “best immersion,” and so on. I simply did not have the time or experience to be able to sort out the best from among these providers.

Then, through a combination of circumstance, timing and a little luck in the evaluation process, I came across Blueline Simulations. What was intriguing about them is they had already done all of this research to identify the simulations and providers with the highest customer satisfaction. On top of this work, Blueline offered program and project management resources, so by working with Blueline, we could do everything from negotiating terms to planning our implementation to conducting the simulation itself.

While there were several companies that made the final cut of proposals, it was clear that for our needs, Blueline Simulations was the best choice for this initial opportunity, and had the capability and capacity to grow with us. Together with Dan Gregory at Blueline Simulations, we selected Executive Challenge™, a competitive, multiplayer simulation that puts participants on the leadership team of a virtual company.

In my next posting I will share the nature of the program, how we customized it for Alltel’s needs, and what the outcomes were in delivering the simulation. Stay tuned!

Simulation Develops Results Focused Leaders at Fortune 300 Company (Part 2)

In my last post, I described the need for a simulation that could serve as a capstone event for our Leadership Development program at Alltel, and how I came to decide to use Blueline Simulations’ Executive Challenge™. Together, we conducted roughly 15 sessions over a two-year period. Each delivery built on the one before as we refined the simulation in ways that made it feel as if it had been designed just for Alltel. The work we did on debriefs and adverse events to help “customize” the experience made it that much more relevant to my audience.

Attendees were placed in teams of eight and were tasked with growing a virtual business by investing in and producing product lines, responding to market demands, and balancing time, capital, and human resources. Throughout the simulation, teams evaluated the sustainability of a business and the long-term implications of short-term decisions, acknowledged personal management styles and leadership blind spots, balanced personal and organizational objectives, solved complex business problems collaboratively, defined a clear strategic vision as a team, and implemented this vision in the face of adverse events.

The simulation began after normal work hours on day 1, as teams were presented with the simulation scenario, had a practice session on the technology, and discussed their company strategies for the next day over dinner. Day 2 lasted a full day and consisted of participants managing their companies over 6-8 virtual quarters. During debriefs, teams examined how closely their decisions reflected the Core Values of Alltel, as well as the soundness of their business strategies.

Teams prepared presentations at the end of the simulation experience and delivered them to a Board of Directors composed of Alltel executives. The board chose a winner based on strategy, financial performance, team effectiveness, ability to handle adverse events, adherence to the program competencies, sustainability, and overall quality of the presentation.

Participants found their simulation experience invaluable.  They experienced the challenges of being a results focused leader, while using behavior and relationship skills in their interactions with their fellow team members. Participants rated the experience highly, remarking on “how the pressure, the competitiveness, the unexpected turn of events really tested their ability to work collaboratively to make good decisions and to execute against them.”

As for me, I had chosen the perfect partner and solution to bring all the work of leadership assessments, coaching and training together in an innovative, engaging and practical way that was useful and memorable to my Directors and Vice Presidents. To this day I continue to get comments from former Alltel Associates about the leadership program, and inevitably they always mention the chance to run their own companies, amidst market pressures and unanticipated events, that was Alltel’s Executive Challenge!

I am excited to now have the opportunity to represent this solution, plus the other equally powerful solutions Blueline offers as part of our Leadership Innovation Series. As Director of Leadership Innovations, I look forward to working with our clients to provide the same kind of business results and organizational impact that I witnessed first-hand in my use of these solutions at Alltel.

Blueline Helps Pharmaceutical Firm Develop Employee’s Emotional Intelligence Skills

In our last post, we looked at the recent history of emotional intelligence, and how it has rooted itself so firmly in the awareness of today’s business landscape. A stunning success story in terms of “viral ideas” it has proven its value many times over through demonstrable results as reported by the world’s most influential organizations.

In this post, I want to tell you the compelling story of a project Blueline Simulations recently completed with a Fortune 120 pharmaceutical firm that involved the use of assessments, executive coaching, and customized training.

The client organization engaged Blueline to develop a solution for key positions in the clinical trial pipeline –  one that touched more than 80 leaders. The objective was three-fold: to build a greater awareness of the importance of EQ skills; to provide an understanding of where each person had strengths and gaps related to their skills; and to provide development opportunities for people to grow skills and acquire new ones in managing their emotions, and managing their relationships with other people. Our client was committed to the idea that EQ behaviors were integral to the success of this important team, and that increasing skill would also increase productivity and results.

The project consisted of four phases:

1.  Attendance at a class called “Foundations of EQ” which explained fundamental concepts and explored core behaviors of EQ success.

2.  An EQ 360 assessment in which the individual assessed their own skills, as well as the skills of their manager, colleagues and direct reports.

3.  Individual coaching to each participant based on their assessment results.

4.  Customized training based on the overall strengths and skill gaps discovered in the assessment results.

From launch to completion, the project’s four phases took six months. Within a month of completion of the project, each participant was asked to evaluate the project. The preliminary results show that the participants were convinced that this program will make a difference in their business lives, and interestingly, in their personal lives as well.

  • 85% said it was the best combination of training and development they had received at their organization, or from any other organization.
  • 87% agreed that they gained knowledge and skills they can use on their job.
  • 85% agreed that they would use this knowledge and skill in their personal lives.
  • 87% were satisfied or very satisfied with the investment of time and effort as compared to the results of the training.

But obviously participant impressions are just part of the story. While it’s premature to cite definitive business impact for the project outlined above, in my previous blog I cited numerous examples of business impacts at companies as far reaching as Coca-Cola and Fortune Brands.  In my 30 plus years as a consultant and trainer, I have come to believe that any business result can be greatly improved simply by focusing on the quality of the personal transactions that delivered that result. Emotional intelligence is an idea whose time has come, and today is delivering enormous gains in speed, efficiency, and quality of human interactions.

I don’t know you or your organization, but I can say with confidence that you have enormous opportunities to leverage the power of emotional intelligence to deliver quantitatively better business results.

Ask me how. Because I think the next success story could be yours.

Welcome to the Golden Age of Emotional Intelligence

Or: How’s YOUR Company’s EQ?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was first introduced to the business world in 1998, when Daniel Goleman’s article on EQ was published in the Harvard Business Review. Goleman was one of the primary researchers who defined the term “emotional intelligence.” He also defined what behaviors indicate skill in using emotional intelligence, as well as what the lack of skill looks like behaviorally.

Simply stated, emotional intelligence is how well we understand and manage our emotions, as well as how well we establish and maintain relationships with others.

Emotional intelligence created a lot of buzz at the time of Goleman’s article. To this day, it is the most reprinted article in the HBR archives. Yet business was slow to figure out how to use this knowledge, and in some cases even rejected the concept as too “touchy-feely” to apply to business situations.

But not anymore! The field of neuroscience has enhanced our knowledge of how and why the brain does what it does. Today we have a richer knowledge of the importance of EQ skills in producing business success, and in predicting individual success. We now have scientifically validated behavior assessments that help us understand our skill strengths and skill gaps in managing our personal emotions, and in managing our professional and personal relationships.

Even more exciting are the reams of data that are now showing the direct impact these skills have on business results. Consider the following examples:

  • The Coca-Cola Company saw division leaders who developed their EQ skills outperform their targets by 15%.
  • The U.S. Air Force reduced recruiter turnover from 35% to 5% annually by selecting candidates high in emotional intelligence.
  • Fortune Brands had 100% of their leaders who went through EQ development exceed their performance targets, compared to just 28% of leaders who failed to develop their EQ skills.
  • Sales people at an insurance firm who scored high on an emotional intelligence test sold 37% more in their first two years than those who scored lower.

Now that the results are rolling in, emotional intelligence has found its legitimacy as a key business and leadership capability… with the ability to deliver stunning business results.

It’s a golden age in the exploration and application of emotional intelligence, and if your organization hasn’t tapped into the power, then now is a great time. And we have some learning opportunities that you can put to work right away.

In our next blog post, we will share with you a recent project in which Blueline Simulations worked with a Fortune 120 pharmaceutical firm in assessing the EQ skills of 80 of their leaders, including coaching provided around the assessment results, and customized training to further develop EQ skills. Mark this page and join us later, and we’ll tell you the whole story!