Business Scenarios

These scenarios and exercises are designed to both assess and develop the Far-Sighted Leader. They can be completed either in a group or individually.

Mouseover the coloured circles to see the attributes developed by each programme.

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Bargaining

- Group

This exercise mimics the processes and dynamics at play in every meeting where people must see the need to suppress their short-term individual interests in order to save the collective interest, and when rescuing the collective interest is the only way of ensuring that in the long-term the individuals will survive. It tests people’s understanding of complex problems, trust, and honesty, and teaches that sometimes competition diminishes everyone.

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Baron's Bank

- Individual and Group

This exercise is designed to take an oblique, but still penetrating, look at participants’ counselling skills. It is a good alternative to role-play in programmes where you do not have the time to set up a series of individual role-play scenarios. Can the participants choose appropriate responses to potential performance problems?

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Cassandra's Shoes

- Individual or Group

This very powerful exercise is a great test of the full gambit of business acumen. It includes being able to read the story behind the numbers, and managing and influencing people. Can people see the oncoming disaster? Will they make the tough decisions?

Cassandra's Shoes

"Cassandra’s Shoes is a great blend of assessment and development. The case study clearly differentiates those who can see the source of the problem from those who can’t. It has enough information and data to point to where the problem lies but you don’t need to be especially numerate to understand it. Furthermore, some people see the problem and know what needs to be done – either by analysis or instinct - but lack the confidence or assertiveness to persuade the owner. Like all good exercises the power of Cassandra’s Shoes lies in the debrief, where people learn life long lessons. It is a very effective means of assessing, amongst other things, Business Acumen."

Pam Westhead

Director - Westgrave Consulting

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Counselling

- Group

This exercise asks participants to decide how a particular sum of money is to be spent. Only one participant may have the money, so they each have to bid and then decide who will make the best use of the resources. Can the group see where the business can get big bangs for small bucks?

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Gift Horse

- Individual then Group

This exercise is designed to take an oblique, but still penetrating, look at participants’ counselling skills. It is a good alternative to role-play in programmes where you do not have the time to set up a series of individual role-play scenarios. Can the participants choose appropriate responses to potential performance problems?

Gift Horse

"A simple, engaging and insightful introductory exercise which helps settle a group starting a development/assessment centre while providing some good initial insights into the level of a person’s thinking – in particular, how they think about staff and customers and their ability to think innovatively about future opportunities. It also provides some good insights into a person’s ability to influence peers, and their presence and poise under challenge."

Dr Peter Blyde

Director - Catalyst4Change

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Jerry Kesnowicz

- Group

This is an exercise about managing someone with a performance problem. The problem is not poor performance overall; it concerns a very intelligent specialist who appears to lack the skills or interest in managing people. Participants, working as a group, are asked to suggest a strategy for resolving the difficulties with Jerry.

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Jane F

- Group

This exercise has parallel forms (Jane Fellowes or Jane Ferguson, with the latter being more difficult.) These exercises have at their heart the problem of influencing without authority.

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Icelandic Daisy

- Group

This is a sweet and simple negotiation exercise which really has only one point to make, but it makes it unforgettably: in successful negotiations, you should talk about needs rather than take up positions.

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John Sambell

- Individual or Group

This exercise is in two parts: a group discussion and a role-play interview. The heart of the exercise is a clash of temperaments which will be familiar to most managers: an old-style production manager who is thoroughly bounced on by the new marketing manager, much younger, successful, on the up-and-up, and with the sensitivity of a badly-designed brick.

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Manager's Day Out

- Group

This exercise makes an important contribution to programmes where staff coaching skills are a priority. The lesson from the exercise is that managers must plan to coach, have a purpose for each coaching intervention, and must not confuse coaching with doing the job themselves.

Manager's Day Out

"This was a great exercise for our future leaders. It really helped us focus on the role of a leader, how do leaders add value and in particular - where should they spend their time: with the good employees or the poor performing ones? Are managers tempted to get in and solve the problem themselves, or do they coach? What is coaching anyway, and how much time do we really devote to it?"

John Baillie

General Manager Corporate Services and HR
Quotable Value NZ Ltd

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Mystery Shopper

- Group

The significant lessons in the exercise are (i) before collecting quantities of information, you need to consider its significance for the goals of the business, and (ii) when considering what you will do with the results, you need to plan a feedback strategy.

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Our Town

- Group

This exercise tests participant’s general business knowledge and shows the extent of their networks, interest, competitor knowledge, and general business curiosity. Almost all stages of the exercise can be guaranteed to produce conflicting points of view.

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Peter Brady

- Group

Peter Brady is the newly-appointed Chief Executive of the Midhurst Regional Health Trust. The group is asked to help prepare Peter to meet a mixed group of stakeholders. Peter Brady specifically addresses the problems in organisations which have had so much change that people, including external stakeholders, are weary of it.

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Retreat

- Group

There are many points of view and theories about change. In this exercise, participants - acting in their current jobs in their present organisation - have to choose which would be most useful for senior management in their organisation to hear. This exercise is a tough test of business judgement and organisation diagnosis skills; only incidentally is it a negotiation task.

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Rope Square and Reef Knot

- Group

There is one basic lesson in these two exercises: simply, that it is not enough to know all the posh words about leadership and teamwork and communication - the members of a team have to take personal responsibility for making these things happen.

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Secret Ingredients

- Individual then Group

Secret Ingredients is a food company based in Malaysia and with a parent company in Singapore. The participants, acting as Chief Executive, are presented with a series of dilemmas which involve spending money. However, the information provided makes it clear that the company is losing money; therefore, the exercise is a strong test of decision-making under conditions of conflicting priorities.

Secret Ingredients

"We run this with our key talent at mid-level leadership and find it powerful in opening participants’ eyes to a more strategic role. They often concentrate on the operational details of the eight problems but when the ‘MD’ arrives, their sights are lifted to the bigger picture. It is excellent for drawing out learning about business investment prioritisation and enables managers to discuss and understand the drivers that lead to poor financial performance. We particularly appreciate its focus on the senior management team - this is often overlooked by participants. Secret Ingredients is ripe with learning and makes a splendid final exercise at our Development Centre."

Gil Sewell

Manager OD and Learning Programmes
Fonterra Co-operative Group

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Training Exercise

- Group

While the activity of this exercise appears to be about designing a series of training programmes, the review focuses on the need to be clear to employees about which problem it is that they are trying to solve and specifying the difference that is needed.

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White's Regency Hotel

- Individual or Group

Presented as a case in which there are no systems and processes, dwindling financial returns, and staff conflict, the key question participants need to address is which market should this hotel be in? This is a good test of business acumen, especially financial understanding and strategy.

White's Regency Hotel

"The hotel is facing a common business dilemma: declining financial performance and so far attempts to turn the business around haven’t succeeded. It is a good test of a person’s ability to think about where the business should be heading and to make recommendations about an appropriate course of action. While many of the specific issues can be solved or patched up on an ad hoc basis the situation should encourage participants to think more broadly, to search for root cause, to recognise linkages and to exhibit systemic thinking in order to develop a cohesive business strategy for the business. A good teaching case for development too."

Richard Parker

Formerly of Melbourne Business School and now independent business acumen consultant