In my last post, I described the need for a simulation that could serve as a capstone event for our Leadership Development program at Alltel, and how I came to decide to use Blueline Simulations’ Executive Challenge™. Together, we conducted roughly 15 sessions over a two-year period. Each delivery built on the one before as we refined the simulation in ways that made it feel as if it had been designed just for Alltel. The work we did on debriefs and adverse events to help “customize” the experience made it that much more relevant to my audience.
Attendees were placed in teams of eight and were tasked with growing a virtual business by investing in and producing product lines, responding to market demands, and balancing time, capital, and human resources. Throughout the simulation, teams evaluated the sustainability of a business and the long-term implications of short-term decisions, acknowledged personal management styles and leadership blind spots, balanced personal and organizational objectives, solved complex business problems collaboratively, defined a clear strategic vision as a team, and implemented this vision in the face of adverse events.
The simulation began after normal work hours on day 1, as teams were presented with the simulation scenario, had a practice session on the technology, and discussed their company strategies for the next day over dinner. Day 2 lasted a full day and consisted of participants managing their companies over 6-8 virtual quarters. During debriefs, teams examined how closely their decisions reflected the Core Values of Alltel, as well as the soundness of their business strategies.
Teams prepared presentations at the end of the simulation experience and delivered them to a Board of Directors composed of Alltel executives. The board chose a winner based on strategy, financial performance, team effectiveness, ability to handle adverse events, adherence to the program competencies, sustainability, and overall quality of the presentation.
Participants found their simulation experience invaluable. They experienced the challenges of being a results focused leader, while using behavior and relationship skills in their interactions with their fellow team members. Participants rated the experience highly, remarking on “how the pressure, the competitiveness, the unexpected turn of events really tested their ability to work collaboratively to make good decisions and to execute against them.”
As for me, I had chosen the perfect partner and solution to bring all the work of leadership assessments, coaching and training together in an innovative, engaging and practical way that was useful and memorable to my Directors and Vice Presidents. To this day I continue to get comments from former Alltel Associates about the leadership program, and inevitably they always mention the chance to run their own companies, amidst market pressures and unanticipated events, that was Alltel’s Executive Challenge!
I am excited to now have the opportunity to represent this solution, plus the other equally powerful solutions Blueline offers as part of our Leadership Innovation Series. As Director of Leadership Innovations, I look forward to working with our clients to provide the same kind of business results and organizational impact that I witnessed first-hand in my use of these solutions at Alltel.