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Business Acumen: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ related to Business Acumen

Business Acumen: FAQ

Study after study suggests that employees who understand how their company makes money and who know how they personally contribute to that money-making process are more engaged, more efficient, and more effective. And that's what developing good business acumen is all about.

To pull this off, and to really see a return on your investment, business acumen training has to be customized to the strategy and metrics that are important to your CEO and to a participant’s specific role and responsibilities.

Our blended approach of Socratic discussion, intuitive models, and hands-on activities that make business and finance training interesting, relevant, immediately actionable, and dare we say, fun, is what makes the training successful.

We've developed a purposeful and efficient approach to customizing business and finance courses – measured in weeks not months. We take our existing award-winning teaching methodologies and proprietary models and tools and combine them with what we already know about your industry and what we learn about your organization through our customization process. This modular approach allows you to pick and choose different areas of focus. During your customization process, we'll jointly decide which activities and tools will help participants best meet your learning requirements.

  • Task 1: Uncovering Your Business Strategy

  • Task 2: Designing Your Business Acumen Training

  • Task 3: Delivering Your Business Acumen Course

When we began this endeavor over a decade ago, it was to meet a severe need to develop business acumen among rank and file front line employees… so we thought.

We learned quickly that business acumen is a gap for most professionals including people in senior leadership positions. Even so called "numbers people" who can read a financial statement have a hard time connecting those numbers to the projects, decisions, departments, external factors, and innovations that are the real story behind the numbers. So while we conduct a lot of frontline courses, we teach just as much business acumen training to senior leaders and finance groups.

Business acumen is a foundation that's needed, but that's too often missing, in corporate curriculums. For example, without business acumen can individuals ever fully master more conventional business skills like leadership presence, negotiation, or communications?

Even when it comes to something seemingly unrelated like diversity training – individuals with business acumen have a better understanding of how different perspectives can help shape a successful project and ultimately a successful company. Without business acumen, it's just another HR course.

Developing business acumen gives your leaders a business footing on which to stand and it provides needed context and clarity on which to build additional business skills. And smart organizations are recognizing that including business acumen in their professional competency models is a real competitive advantage.

The talent of our facilitators is the foundation on which we build client relationships. Our people view every training engagement as their opportunity to make a measurable impact on your business.

Therefore, we can’t just hire people who are professional presenters – you can’t put a career presenter in front of a room of senior executives hungry for a discussion on their company’s weighted average cost of capital trends. That’s not going to work. Likewise, we can’t just hire people who are experts in the field of business and finance, because a lengthy lecture that goes over most people’s heads from some number cruncher isn’t going to work either.

For this reason, we invest heavily in finding and developing facilitators who are capable of teaching any professional, from any industry, about the business of their business. And they must do it in a way that is both clear enough to reach the individual contributor and yet sophisticated enough to challenge your most senior executives.

This is uncommon talent, that’s admittedly hard to find, but it’s essential if you’re serious about your talent management initiatives and want to achieve unprecedented results through business acumen training.

As a world-leading authority on business acumen training, chances are pretty high that our facilitators have either taught or conducted research on the companies you admire, compete against, and sell to. They have an unparalleled perspective into a wide range of industries which sets them apart from all other outside training vendors and internal training resources.

What are the main strategies for driving growth in retail? How are hospitals navigating new industry regulations? Who’s leading in the energy sector? We know the answers to these questions and more, and we’ll give your team the tools they need to become similarly sophisticated.

That’s why industry leaders, ranging from long-term Acumen Learning clients to organizations we’re proud to be piloting this year, have turned to our deeply experienced team to help them equip their employees with key insights to make faster, more informed, and more strategic business decisions. Business acumen training makes the difference.

We’ve made tools and job aids an essential part of our business acumen training programs. While there are many training vendors who give out a token job aide at the end of the day as a sort of thank you – we’ve gone beyond this.

Our tools have been integrated with our classroom experience – we’re modeling how to effectively use the tools to add value to the business. Breaking participants into groups, to get hands on experience using the tools with their classmates, is an ah-ha moment for attendees. They quickly realize that what they’re doing in the classroom is what they’re expected to do back on the job. And not just once or twice, but for the rest of their career. Here are a few of the tools we provide:

  • #1 Bestseller: Seeing the Big Picture

  • Job Aid: Navigating the Financials

  • Job Aid: Executive Alignment

  • Job Aid: Action Plan

  • E-Learning Review

Ultimately it’s up to graduates to become more valuable and valued, but we’re going to do everything we can – as if it were up to us.

Graduates will return to work speaking the universal language of business. No matter their level in the organization, they’ll have a big picture mentality and be wrestling with the inherent complexity of your business. They’ll also have a renewed appreciation for how money making is valued throughout the organization and by the stock market. They’ll be excited to share their new knowledge and to use their classroom tools on the job. Our follow-up activities are designed to tap into this energy to help ensure there’s a real change in how decisions are made and how business gets done.

  • 7-Day, 30-Day, and Quarterly Facilitator Check-Ins

  • Acumen in Action Series

  • Accountability Partners

  • Challenge: Manager Review & Debrief

  • Challenge: Teach a Colleague

  • Quarterly Earnings Calls

Instead of dumbing down your business and spending valuable time teaching people how to play a board game or sim, we teach people substantive things: a deeper understanding of how their company makes money and the skills needed to play a more meaningful role in that money-making process throughout their career.

By their very nature, simulations focus learners on concepts and ideas, we want our participants to think about your business strategy. We want them to figure out how their ideas and decisions impact metrics that are important to the business. We want them to spend time thinking about how to beat the real competition, not their colleague across the room. We want them to return to work eager to help your company win in the real world.

If you treat your employees like they’re vital to your business – they’ll be vital to your business. If you let them know that you take their personal development seriously – they’ll take their personal development seriously. Don’t make a game out of this important initiative. The development of business acumen is too important.

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