Trends | Learn About Business Simulations and Strategic Acceleration

Most Popular Articles of 2017


Happy 2018! The second half of 2017 was completely unmanageably busy. We don't usually like to keep a pace like this but once in a while it happens. Thus, the posts have been very sporadic here and non-existent at BillHall.Me. My apologies about that. But, I had a request the other day to post the top 5 most popular articles I recently wrote. So, here they are in an easy to access location.

The Most Popular Articles Written in 2017

- Using Simulations to Development Millennial Leaders: CLO Magazine 2016
- The Futility of the 80 Hour Work Week: Entrepreneur Magazine 2017
- High-Tech Startups Need to Ditch the 'Engineers Rule'‚Äč Mentality: Entrepreneur Magazine 2017
- Can You Speak My Language: Huffington Post 2016
- 4 Steps to Build Strategically Critical Leadership-Development Programs: Entrepreneur 2017

These are just a handful. You can find more here: I've slowed my writing a bit which is a bummer. Will pick it back up once I find a consistent home to write for. Will post the results here. Hope these help for now!

Cheers to 2018 and have a great year!


Infographic: 5 Tips To Effectively Teach Business Acumen

It's been far too long since the last post. We apologize. Summer was completely off the charts busy with overlapping projects. All went well and we're getting back to normal.

After months of programing, I decided to do something on the more creative side. We've been getting a lot of questions about how to effectively teach business acumen. This has become an exceptionally popular topic. This is mostly due to the stock market doing so well (Wilshire 5000 is up 33.54% 2yr Oct to Oct- Wow!) which has resulted in 401Ks swelling. The swelling has led to an acceleration of retirement amongst current leaders. This is putting pressure on companies to accelerate leadership development. A huge part of leadership development is company specific business acumen. From the outside, it looks as if this is what is causing the increased interest.

Thus, I created an infographic (yes, I did the artwork so be forgiving. After all, I'm more of a strategist and technologist than artist). Hope this helps.

Click the image below to download the full infographic.



3 Great Articles To Read For Business Transformation


Hello!- My sincerest apologies for very sporadic posts. Been making all sorts of changes within SimStudios (all for the very good) and updated the web site.

So, in the meantime, I've decided to post 3 articles that I think are very worth the reading. As you know, I chew through tons of articles each week. I usually post ones I like on twitter (twitter account here). For easy consumption, I'm posting 3 recent articles that I particularly like. Here you go….


Combining Behavior, Business, and Impact In Leadership Development


When most people think of 'business simulations' they automatically think of two things: Highly quantitative financial management or they think of something similar to the Sims®. Many leadership "purists" will balk at the idea of combining the needs of the corporate strategy with pure leadership behavior. When I talk with corporate leaders, they are looking for a combination of both and the trends appear to be clearly moving in this direction. Corporate leaders are looking for leadership development that combines three ingredients: Behavior, Business Acumen, and Impact on Outcomes. Let's have a look more closely.


Corporate Stategy and Training & Development- Driving Change

Corporate Strategy and Training & Development

With a new year can often come a renewed sense of changing and/or implementing a new corporate strategy. The group of people that drive this corporate strategy often know the entire enterprise's business landscape better than anyone. It is here where the problem with getting the strategy off the ground resides. As a business strategist, we fail to understand that most managers don't know the landscape as well. This is where the frustration comes from: The managers within the enterprise are unable to drive the strategic change they are being asked to drive. This is simply because they don't have the knowledge necessary to feel confident in the change. But, the good news is that there are ways to alleviate this fundamental problem.


CEO Interests From Corporate Training & Development


I don't think it's necessarily fair, but for the most part, execs think that T&D professionals are still very focused on T&D 'best practices'. They talk about things like the Kirkpatrick and other models and methods that impress other T&D managers. As a past non T&D executive, I can tell you from experience that this usually frustrates executives. I used to have an understanding that the T&D manager is doing his/her job, but there were time where I just wanted to simplify the discussion.


5 Steps to Creating Business Acumen Training for Today's Learner


With the aging boomers and the lack of experience of the current middle managers, companies are scrambling to build the corporate talent bench. A large part of building this bench is effective business acumen. I'm not talking about the generic, theoretical business acumen traditionally taught in colleges. I'm talking about the real sticky stuff. The 'finance meets people meets marketing meets operations, meets IT, meets leadership, meets corporate strategy meets the impact on the bottom line performance' type of business acumen. The real stuff leaders used to learn over the course of many years. The real-deal business acumen.


Just Say No To Huge Sims!


I have had the displeasure of being hired to cleanup yet another oversized sim mess. It frustrates me to no end when I have to go into a customer's offices in order to cleanup the mess left behind as the result of hiring a huge firm that tried to create a monster sim. I feel bad for the customers and it makes me dislike my own industry (even though I love what I do for a living and couldn't imagine doing anything else). I want to be clear here:

Just Say No To Huge Sims (unless you have tons of money to waste).

Let's have a quick look why using smaller focused business simulation is more effective than monster sims.


Collaborative Simulations- What Are They?

Most people think of business simulations as a tool where participants either compete against other training participants or against the computer. These aren't the only useful solutions available. Do you know much about business collaboration simulations? These are tools that help leaders learn how to more effectively collaborate as a single entity instead of an individual business silo.

Business Collaboration Simulations are exceptionally useful as part of a team building and cross functional leadership development program. They are also exceptionally challenging to create because these solutions are multiple simulation combined into a single tool for corporate development. This type of business simulation breaks the group into specific teams where they all have to work together in order to achieve a common goal. Participants must learn to work together, work on the business, and effectively communicate in order to succeed. Read More...

Make Training and Development a Strategic Imperative


In general, most CEOs want training to influence one of three outcomes: Increase revenue, decrease costs, or both. Most training managers think more along the lines of knowledge development. They want people to learn a skill in order to do their jobs better. But the CEO and the executive team want to know how the training will influence the three factors. Here lies a slight disconnect. Executives want training that teaches the business of the enterprise. This isn’t to suggest that knowledge development isn’t important. Having a direct connection between how knowledge impacts revenue growth, expense reduction, or both is critically important to the corporate strategy.

Demonstrating these impacts can be challenging. Training managers struggle with how to help training participants understand the connection between the training content and its impact on revenue and/or expenses. In many cases, training managers have to bridge the connection gap with general examples and a leap of knowledge faith. This is usually where leadership training often breaks down and relevancy is reduced. When training managers are able to make the training part of the corporate strategy, the training becomes one of the central components of corporate strategic execution.


Game Theory: Applicability to Corporate Strategy and Training


I’ll get this opinion out right from the start: I don’t think Game Theory is very applicable to real world strategic planning and/or strategy testing. Like most knowledge labeling from Higher Education, this is interesting inside of a lab. Basic game theory is fun, and interesting to think about, but isn’t very usable for corporate planning. Once you get into more advanced game theory such as Nash Equiquilibrium, this becomes exceptionally useful when economics tries to predict behavior. But this is where I ‘go off the rails’ a little. I personally get frustrated with predicting human behavior. Don’t get me started on AI. Let me explain.

There are two elephants in the room with game theory. Game Theory assumes the following: 1) Human behavior is reasonable and predictable resulting in ‘rational and predictable behavior’ and 2) the assumption that all parties have equal information that has equal interpretation. I’m sorry, but c’mon! Since when are humans predictable and rational and since when does anyone not bring their experiences and bias’ into any situation.

In 1979, researchers Kahneman and Tversky wrote Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk. This looked at the impact of physiology on decision making. It's an amazingly interesting piece to read (a little thick though). Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work developing Prospect Theory. Incredibly interesting stuff that will pretty much make you raise your arms up and say, “Oh man, then who knows what to do.” Absolutely right… we can only take an experienced mix of theory, experience, and tactics and do your best with what you think should be done (you can also gamify your strategy to see what happens).

Back to game theory: Again, I’m not a huge fan. It’s interesting and fun to think about. A little workout for the brain, but I see only a small spot for it in strategic development and implementation. As someone who has created and implemented strategy, I’ve yet to see anyone or any company be rational and predictable. - WPH

Business Acumen Training Gamification - Engaging and Educational

When most people think of business acumen training, they think, "Ugh, paper, slides, and BORING!" Ok, I'll admit, business acumen is not the most exciting topic to learn about. But the method in which you can learn it can be exceptionally engaging and even more educational. Think about the idea of no reading, no more than 15 PPT slides, and all hands-on. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? Better yet, imagine getting your hands-on being able to play with your company as a game while learning business acumen. Even more exciting, right? This is basically Business Acumen Gamification and it's amazingly engaging, educational, and strategic. Let's take a look at what this looks like:

Business Acumen Training Gamification

First, let's define gamification. According to Wikipedia, Gamification is: …the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts (source: This tells us a little, but let's just think of Gamficiation as turning something boring into a game. Much easier. Now, let's just combine what we're talking about (business acumen training), and we're talking about making a business acumen training game.

Second, let's now take your company and add it to the game. I'm talking about your industry, culture, products, etc. Bringing this element of realism makes it more interesting for you and applicable for your company. Now that we have these two elements, lets look how it behaves:

In a business acumen training session we teach, participants are divided into teams. The teams then compete against each other in how effectively they can obtain profitability: Profits (at it's most simple level). Teams must control R&D, marketing, operations, people development, IT, etc.. Any decision they make has an impact on the business. This is basically a real-time business war games. Teams compete in real time business simulations that gamify the boring process of traditional business acumen training. This is training for this generation: Real, Engaging, and Applicable.

In summary, business acumen training gamification makes leadership, management, or even individual contributor corporate training exciting, applicable and incredibly valuable. Have a look soon. You'll love it!

Business Simulator for Leadership Training?

Can a business simulator really be used for leadership training? You'd be surprised how companies are using these solutions as a business strategy tool. Business training games such as these are valuable when it comes to putting leaders into the intersection of business and people. Training tools such as these are great at teaching topics such as:

  • Business Acumen
  • Leadership Development
  • Employee Assessment
  • Employee Management
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Business Management
  • A lot more

Using a business simulator for leadership development puts future leaders into management situations well ahead of their time. These leaders can practice and fail without introducing danger to the business. It is important to note that tools such as these do not need to be big, complicated, or expensive. Starting small and focusing on the learning objectives is important.

Creating a large and complicated solution is very unnecessary. Here are some tips to think about:

3 Tips to Getting Started With Business Simulations:

  1. Start small and focus only on what is absolutely necessary- You'll see great temptation to go big and include everything. Resist the temptation!
  2. Make certain to align behind clearly defined learning objectives- Don't stray from what you're trying to train participants. Stay focused on the objectives
  3. If you're going to spend money, spend it on your training content first! Don't be tempted to put a majority of your budget into a business simulator. You should spend a majority of your budget a great training and development content!

In summary, large companies have been successfully using a business simulator to training employees for many years. If you start small, focus, and build from the foundation, you'll do great!

How College Recruiters are Mining Young Talent

Interns Article

How College Recruiters are Mining Young Talent

Recruiting top college students can be challenging. Gaining a future employee’s attention, differentiating your company from the competition, and learning the candidate’s real skills are no easy task. That’s why many Fortune 500 companies have begun to implement business simulations into their college recruiting and internship programs – and they’ve found that these simulations are paying huge dividends.

The Problem With Internships

Starting the recruiting process as early as a candidate’s sophomore year helps both the student and the recruiter better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship.

Click here to read the entire article at

Tips! Using a Business Simulation for Change Management Initiatives

Almost all companies, big and small, go through change at some point. When a company is smaller, the business owner will often simply say, "We have to change a few things" and the change will usually happen relatively quickly. But it's obvious to most that the larger the company gets, the more challenging this becomes. Even throwing lots of money at change doesn't always speed things up. Depending on the size of the company, the idea of 'change' turns into a massive undertaking called 'Change Management'. In some companies, there are armies of people assigned to change management initiatives. In almost all large company change initiatives, very expensive 'change management' firms are brought in. In most cases, this complicates the initiative exponentially. But believe it or not, companies do change successfully and it's a lot more difficult than most understand.

Many companies have learned over the years that successful change is only successful if the employees a) understand what is changing (the why) and b) understand how they fit into the change (the how). Most of us have seen the companies that simply change direction and hope that the employees get in line. This doesn't usually work very well because no one really understands where they're going much less how to get there. Many of us have simply been told the direction in the hopes we know how to execute the re-direction ourselves. Again, this doesn't usually work exceptionally well.

Some of the most successful change management initiatives utilize business simulations to speed up the change. Why do companies use these tools? Because business simulations have the ability to let people experience on their own a) why the change is occurring and b) how they can help contribute to the change. It's very simple: When people understand the what, why, and how, they help out. Seems easy, but it can get tricky.

5 Tips To Utilizing a Business Simulation within Change Management

1. Engage Human Resources and Training and Development- We've seen companies skip this step and it's usually a disaster. Engage HR and T&D early. They are invaluable at helping build successful programs that create organization, alignment, and engagement around using business simulations within training and development initiatives. Don't wait, just do it.
2. Make Sure You Have a Clear and Comprehendible Strategy- Again, we've seen this mistake before: An overly complex strategy created by change management firms that fall apart under their own weight. Even if you have a very complex strategy, simplify it. Distill it down to the top three takeaways you want managers to understand. This will go a long way.
3. Use Business Simulations with Management, Not Individual Contributors- In most cases, using a business simulation with individual contributors is a waste of money. Focus on using business simulations for directors and above. This is money far better spent.
4. Ensure the Training Ties Back To The Strategy- This is important. We've seen training created just for the sake of teaching people things. This is a mistake. The training should focus on demonstrating the strategic advantages of the training content itself. Otherwise, this is theoretical training and will annoy the training participants.
5. Be Patient!- When implementing a business simulation, be patient! Do it right the first time. If you try to take cheap shortcuts, you'll usually get marginal results (at best). Take your time, focus on the goals, and work from the finish line backwards. This always pays the best dividends.

Utilizing business simulations within change management is more popular than ever. It's also more complicated due to the speed at which strategy moves. If you focus on the core, take your time to do a little planning, and utilize these tips, you should be fine.

Free Book from Amazon- Business Simulations for Corporate Training

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, Amazon will have a book about utilizing business simulations and serious games available for free in Kindle version. This is an Amazon #1 best seller in training and has been very well reviewed. It will only be available from 12am -12am pacific time on Tuesday.

Utilizing business simulations and games in corporate training can be very tricky. This is an easy to digest and utilize book to get you started. The book, titled: Shift: Using Business Simulations and Serious Games also answers questions like: How do you know if you need a business simulation or serious game? What are some uses for business simulations and serious games? Can I use simulations to improve the performance of top executives? Should I find a developer or design one in house? What’s a good budget for something like this? Even if you are already using business simulations and serious games, this guide will help you be more effective and save money.

Author William Hall assisted Steve Jobs prepare keynote presentations, and he delivers this topic with brevity, impact and charm. This is an easy to read, easy to digest, and easy to use introduction to business simulations and serious games.

You can download the book from here - You can also download other eBooks from this location too.

The eBooks cover generational training, tips, tricks, etc. William Hall writes for Entrepreneur,, Business Insider, and more so they should be pretty helpful.

Enjoy and we hope this helps!

How to Train Millennials to Lead the Next Generation

eBook About Effective Training and Development
Millennials Want Training They Can Use

Millennials are very pragmatic. They want to work on things that matter. If you want to irritate a Millennial, just show them some training slides that are all theory and hard to apply to their jobs. You’ll hear comments like, “This doesn’t help me.” In a reality, they are correct.

Create training that introduces them to skills they can use in order to advance right away. Giving them a hands-on experience to skills they can use to ‘make things better’ is critical for this hands-on generation.

Make sure your training content introduces skills that are easy for them to apply to their jobs.

Millennials Also Want To Get Their Hands Dirty

Giving this hands-on generation the capability to try, learn, and apply your training content is golden. This generation lives by the ‘let’s try’ and don’t fear failure like previous generations.

Creating a contemporary learning environment where they can touch, play, and apply your training content will produce far greater engagement. Challenging training participants to apply your training content and see tangible business results from decisions is critical. This creates training that is tangible, applicable, challenging and engaging.

Make sure your training offers the ability to try it out.

This eBooks reviews topics such as training applicability, tangibility, strategic alignment, and solution execution.

Utilizing a business simulation for leadership development of Millennials is an ideal way to challenge, engage, and increase corporate training effectiveness.

You can download the eBooks here

Excite People About Business Acumen?!? Here's How.

SME Graphic
Is it really possible to get a group of training participants excited about business acumen? Are people really willing to join a waiting list to get into a business acumen class? Yes, you can get people excited and you can create a wait list for business acumen! How you ask? You need to create a course that gives people a chance to apply the business acumen. There are many ways to do this. You can create board games, computer games, or paper based exercises. Getting started is easier than you might think.

3 Tips to Excite People About Business Acumen

3. Provide 30 minutes of theory and then let the participants loose practicing- Don’t lecture all day and then give them a piece of accounting paper and say “go!” Break it into pieces and give them some action learning modules. How about something like, “You have 10 minutes to put the correct expense into the correct income statement category.” Very simple exercises go a long.
2. Break the participants into teams- Business acumen training is lonely enough. How about putting the group into teams of 3 people. When you apply the learn-and-apply method above, the teams will work together. As a result, the participants will begin to teach each other.
1. Make it a game- Of course, you could use a business simulation, but this might be a little challenging to create yourself (even though people love it!). No matter the exercise, create a method of measurement (scoring), a sense of friendly competition, and a way to push people beyond their comfort zone and you have yourself a game!

As a result, if you turn your business acumen training into a game, create teams, and give action learning a real opportunity, your participants will be more engaged than ever.

3 Tips To Challenge and Engage Millennials

Training in the 2010s is nothing like it was in the 1990s, and if you want to stay ahead of the game it’s important to understand why. The Baby Boomer generation is on its way out (10,000 are retiring each day, according to Business Insider) and the Millennials are taking their places.

The Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a connected world, and this means their attitudes and expectations have been fashioned by the Internet. They despise stale, non-interactive training methods; they want training that is hands-on and keeps them engaged. Furthermore, they expect training to be ongoing: according to Pew Research, 89% of Millennials agree with the statement “It’s important to be constantly learning at my job.”

Here are 3 Tips to Engage Millennials in Corporate Training

1. Stop Telling People What to Think—Leave off on the preaching. Instead, focus on creating action learning modules in which participants can discover lessons on their own. And remember to leave time for participants to share with others what they learned.

2. Show People Why—Learning for the sake of learning is passé. People need to understand why a subject is important. If training participants recognize the importance of the training topic, they will be more willing to take the time to learn it.

3. Challenge Them—If your participants are bored, your training is a failure. Use Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow concept” to get optimal performance from your participants. According to Csikszentmihalyi, people do best when the challenge and the ability to achieve the goal are in balance.

Digital connectivity and rapid advances in technology have ushered us into a new age, transforming the workplace and business models. Training must adapt to the shifting landscape. By using the six tips above, you can make the transition a positive experience.

Are you Kidding?!? Business Simulation For Soft Skills?

Abstract Background in Green Blue Vector Illustration
When you think of a business simulation, you probably think something along the lines of E=MC^2, right? Of course, most people do.

But how are companies successfully using a business simulation for the soft skills and are they using them at all for this? The short answer is, “Yes, companies are certainly using business simulations for the soft skills.” In reality, the long answer is that it depends (of course). Let’s take a closer look at the topic:

Business Simulations For The Soft Skills

Let’s start by all agreeing that effective behavior and leadership skills has a positive effect on business outcomes. We’re not going to go into the research, but this is a fair and proven assumption. The one problem is that people understand this, but they don’t really know how or how much. At the same time, today’s learners want to see impact, results, proof, and application. This is where effective use of a business simulation comes in.

A business simulation done right strikes an effective balance between soft skills and tangible business decisions. In reality, it doesn’t just balance them, it integrates them. Making a decision here has an effect there. This is what a simulation is all about... the experience without the risk.

Giving training and development participants the opportunity to experience the impact of effective management of the soft skills (communication, leadership, etc) is a fantastic use of a business simulation. When implementing this, it is critical to keep an eye on demonstrating the impact of the soft skills on hard outcomes. Otherwise, today’s learners will discount the content and focus more on tangible decisions.

So, in summary, companies are definitely using business simulations for the soft skills. But the simulations are not devoted strictly to the soft skills or the hard business skills. They are nicely balanced and integrated with one another.

Hope this helps!