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Building business, strategic and commercial acumen is a leadership development priority for many companies. In response, Lighthouse has sourced a world-class program out of the United States – Building Business Acumen (BBA).

Conversations with our clients about BBA have revealed some interesting themes. Those companies that have prioritised business acumen training have all been working on one or more of the following strategies.

Finding Alignment:
“Sustaining high business performance is the product of continuous strategic alignment”. Med Jones.

We have heard company executives frustrated by “silo-based” thinking. They quote the product team saying “if only the salespeople would make more calls”. The salespeople respond by saying “the product team should focus more on building what the customer needs at the right price”. The root cause of misalignment is the absence of business/commercial acumen.

Building Business Acumen focuses on how the 5 Business Drivers interact to create value in the company. We arm teams with a common language and create alignment by uncovering how what each person’s activity is linked to the performance of the company.

Compensation based on company-wide goals
“Our incentive scheme seeks to encourage more than individual excellence. It is intended to provoke the creation of company-wide performance”. HR Director, major multinational company.

Collective outcomes are replacing individual results in compensation schemes. These moves encourage greater collaboration and cooperation and enhanced company performance overall. This strategy is only effective when people understand how they will behave differently to increase their incentives. Building Business Acumen helps employees understand how what they do day-to-day contributes to the performance of the team. In doing so, it’s an effective enabler for the successful launch of new incentive programs.

Changing Business Environment
“In the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windscreen”. Warren Buffett

Uncertainty, ambiguity and fast-paced change are part of today’s business landscape. Business leaders that access the observations and insights of their employees are usually the best prepared. Building Business Acumen makes this easier. We train employees to make more of what they are seeing externally and interpret that for a clearer view of the company’s future competitive environment.

Linking Purpose with Profit
A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business. Henry Ford

Or as John S. Mill said, “One person with belief is equal to the force of 99 with only interest”. The companies that enjoy sustained prosperity are those that get the balance right between purpose and profit.

Post-World War II, Japan Airlines sought to symbolise Japan’s post war recovery with this inspiring mission statement: We will not only transport people and goods to their respective destinations safely and on time, but will also bring peoples, their cultures and their hearts closer together as our contribution to world peace and prosperity. In 2010 however, events commenced that would lead to the collapse of Asia’s biggest airline for commercial reasons, despite their lofty purpose.

Our US partners Acumen Learning are fond of the term “No Margin….No Mission. Employees must exercise their business acumen to accomplish the most important objective for any company – long-term, sustainable profitability to support its mission.

Increasing Empowerment
“Management is how well it runs when you are there. Leadership is how well it runs when you are not”. Chase Leblanc

Many leaders find themselves consumed by the “busy work”.Those that find the time for the strategic work of leadership do so by mastering the art of empowerment. Building Business Acumen encourages employees to think beyond the functional aspects of their role. By equipping staff with commercial nous, greater empowerment is possible. This frees executives to focus on the strategic priorities of the company.

Launching Refreshed Strategy
“Furious activity is no substitute for understanding”. H.H. Williams

Challenges emerge to test the performance of even the best companies. It could be expiring patents, new competitors, challenger business models, cost pressures….. or many others. The first response is always the same in engaged companies – we redouble our efforts and display the fierce determination for which we are known. The initial flurry of activity is replaced by systematic prioritisation, adaptation, innovation and ultimately an evolved way of doing things. Investing in the business acumen of your team can accelerate this process, getting your strategy operating within your company sooner.

If any of these challenges resonate with you and Building Business Acumen is a priority, click here to get in touch directly with our specialist facilitators Tim Chilvers and Brian Renwick.
Lighthouse 02 9091 0305/039563 6628

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