Teaching employees how to think and act like business owners

Learning Business Literacy… and Eating Your Vegetables

Watch the faces of your employees next time you tell them they need to learn business literacy.

I bet they look a lot like my ten-year-old when I tell him he has to eat his vegetables.

“Financial acumen training” doesn’t get much love from the folks in organizations who would benefit from it the most. They imagine themselves adrift in a sea of numbers, ratios, and acronyms. (“EBITDA?” Really?)

At Blueline Simulations, we’re on a mission to get your people excited about business acumen. After all, what’s more energizing than recognizing that the work you do at your desk has an immediate impact on the financial health of the enterprise?

It turns out that “excitement” and “fun” are not such difficult goals in business literacy training. The trick – and yes, we are about to share some of our “secret sauce” with you – is to make it real and relevant. We do this by:

  •  Focusing on the story, not the numbers. See all of those numbers on the balance sheet? Every one of them is a story. Behind each is an event, a decision, a problem, and a human drama that played out in the halls of your organization. Tell the story well, and that squiggly, upwards-trending line on the graph is suddenly imbued with urgency.
  • Changing the point of view. A lot of business literacy training is written from the high-level perspective of an accounting professor. But the employees’ line of sight (and influence) begins at his or her own desk. Make the connection between the job and the financials first. Once you’ve established that critical context, you can lead the learner surprisingly far out into the deep waters of financial acumen.
  •  Making it fun.  With a little melted cheddar, my ten-year-old will eat his broccoli and ask for more. Business literacy training is a lot more palatable when flavored with high-engagement learning techniques – such as “gaming” principles, compelling story lines, and lots of opportunities to engage with their colleagues.

Adult learning theory says that retention increases when learners are able to make immediate applications of the concepts to the challenges and pressures that they are facing right now.

Give us a call at Blueline Simulations, and we’ll tell you more about how we can increase the relevance, urgency, and fun of your business literacy training. And if you ask, we’ll even tell you our secret broccoli casserole recipe.

Do Your Leaders Think and Act Like Business Owners?

leaders-ownersWhen I was a senior at Princeton in the Spring of 1988, I completed the grueling process of proving my Senior Thesis. I had researched big restaurant chains that had both company-owned stores as well as franchised stores. My thesis – which I was able to prove – was that the franchise stores outperformed those that were owned by the company.

Why? For one simple reason: because franchisees have more on the line… and therefore just think and act like business owners.

Think for a moment about the implications of this to big organizations. The world’s most-admired companies decentralize their business operations.  Top executives talk about pushing decision making down into the organization.  (Have you seen that commercial for Enterprise car rentals, where employees proudly exclaim that they can take ownership to solve your problem?)

There’s a tension here. While companies celebrate innovation and intrapreneurship, (that is, the corporate version of entrepreneurship), they find that their leaders still fail to think like business owners.

And no, incentives have not been effective at resolving this shortcoming.

So why don’t leaders at these high-performing companies act as business owners? After dedicating the last twenty-four years to training and developing the work forces of some of the world’s highest valued companies, I’ve come to a conclusion that is startlingly simple: they don’t know how.

At Blueline Simulations, we have a lot of experience in addressing that experience gap. The solution is more than simply teaching business finance and strategy; and it goes beyond incentives. The more impactful solution is for leaders to experience what it is like to be a business owner. They need to see how their role impacts the top and bottom lines.  Easier said than done, right?

We have dedicated much of the last decade to identifying “best of breed” solutions to this challenge.  We offer a broad range of business simulations that put leaders at all levels in the role of the business owner, and as a result show them how to think and act like a business owner.

Our solution matrix will help you determine which of our solutions is the best fit for your unique organizational challenges.

There has never been a more critical time to maximize business results. And there has never been a better time to help all of your leaders to succeed by thinking and acting like business owners.

Take the first step by downloading this simple matrix that provides you a side-by-side comparison of Blueline’s Business Finance & Strategy Programs today.

Then call us 813.269.7467 to explore how to equip your leaders to act like key stakeholders in your organization.