A fun and holistic process that uncovers the right decisions FAST

“More data, more problems.” That’s how a Product Insights Lead recently described to us the reality many brands face when it comes to making decisions today. Holistic, data-driven decision making is more complex than ever before, thanks to a variety of competing realities:

  • Business intelligence is often siloed in different departments and data sources
  • Different data sources may give conflicting insights
  • Stakeholders have differing concerns and perspectives
  • The competitive landscape may not be well understood
  • Decisions need to be made quickly in response to changing markets and priorities

These realities impede your ability to make the best decisions to achieve your company’s goals.

So how can you bring together various data sources, information, insights, and stakeholders to make holistic and agile decisions?

Consider an approach leading companies are adopting to drive agility: business wargaming. Here we explain how our clients are using this approach to effectively leverage opportunities and avoid risks. Wargaming is the most fun you’ll have making important decisions.

Business wargaming: stress-testing your decisions

Business wargaming is a process that integrates both data and people to enable holistic and agile decisions. In this insights activation workshop, your team “stress-tests” various approaches to solving a specific business issue by playing “what-if” scenarios in a competitive environment of actions and reactions. This interactive process enhances participants’ understanding of market dynamics, as they walk in the shoes of your competitors, leading to better strategy planning and execution. After the live or virtual session, you walk away with answers to critical questions and alignment on activation strategies.

And let’s not overlook another big benefit: your team will enjoy the process.

Business wargaming for agile decisions

When to use the wargaming process

Wargaming has been most effective for companies tackling the following types of decisions:

  • Responding to changes in market conditions
  • Portfolio planning and pricing decisions
  • Testing a new positioning strategy
  • Entering a new market

Why is wargaming an effective way to drive holistic decisions?

More data is driving an ever-increasing need for faster and more reliable decision making. For companies to ensure the best possible outcomes, they’re carefully considering:

  1. Which data and information sources to use
  2. How to effectively integrate the data and information sources
  3. Which insights activation methods can improve stakeholder alignment and action

Making holistic decisions based on multiple data sources and people can be difficult and time consuming if not done with the right approaches (Watch our on-demand webinar to dive deeper into the data integration approaches). Whether your company is working to break down data silos or it has central data warehouses with high analytics competencies, we often hear the same sentiment amongst our clients:

It can feel like pulling teeth trying to come to a consensus on a decision.

Here’s why business wargaming is an effective way to both integrate data and activate insights:

  • It’s FAST: You get actionable results (and buy-in on the decision) after a couple of weeks of prep and a two-day workshop.
  • It’s RELIABLE: You leverage one of two data-fusion analytics approaches (Triangulation or Integration) to examine various data sources or insights, then predict potential competitive responses and market dynamics to arrive at a holistic decision you can count on.
  • It’s LOW RISK: You can model proposed strategies with predictive analytics at no risk and at low cost.
  • It’s COLLABORATIVE:  You engage, and align with, cross-functional team members for shared decision making
  • It’s FUN! Your participants build better working relationships by participating in an enjoyable process.

How the wargaming process works

1. Set your business objective

What question(s) do you need to answer? It’s important to be as specific as possible to achieve actionable results.

2. Assemble your cross-stakeholder teams

Who is involved in your wargaming session depends on the question at hand. Include cross-functional stakeholders who have relevant expertise and are impacted by the decision you need to make. For example, you’ll want to include Finance leaders for pricing decisions, and Marketing leaders for brand positioning decisions.

Participants are divided into teams, one representing your company and the others each representing key competitors.

3. Gather data and information sources

In preparation for the wargaming workshop, you will need to gather data and information sources, along with existing insights. We recommend using a mix of real-world data (e.g. company data, 3rd party data etc.) and experimental data (e.g. research). We find combining these two worlds produces the most reliable predictions.

Wargaming for data driven holistic decisions

For example, if you’re looking to make pricing decisions, you might have consumer research insights from conjoint analysis studies, consumer trackers, and qualitative studies. You could also gather sales and distribution (e.g. Nielsen) data.

You’ll prepare and distribute briefs prior to the workshop to help participants understand your competitors, their offerings, their focus, and their position in the market. Participants must review the brief and come prepared to respond to a series of questions.

4. Conduct the wargaming workshop

The wargaming workshop typically takes place over a period of two days. It can be done as an in-person meeting, but also works well as a virtual event with two 4-6 hour sessions that are carefully planned and structured.

Here’s what the workshop looks like:

  • Review the business objective and make sure everyone understands what you need to achieve.
  • Data integration for more accurate insights - simpleEquip the teams with data and information briefs developed from real-world and experimental data sources. SKIM prepares each pack (brand + competitors) and possibly a market share simulator tool to mimic changes in the market as a result of possible decisions.
  • Each team meets separately to discuss a question or scenario, where they assume the role of a competitor and answer the question as the competitor would. This is where the fun comes in… and the learning. Taking on the role of a competitor results in creative thinking, and truly understanding the market and the consequences of your actions.
  • Teams gather to deliver their answers, react and assess the market dynamics. As your facilitator, SKIM employs different techniques to assess the quality of the decisions made by the teams, e.g. by using a predictive simulator.
  • Teams continue to meet in multiple rounds to examine new conditions and deliver recommendations, followed by analysis and assessment of the results.

We’ve seen participants take the ‘game’ very seriously (e.g. outfitting the rooms in the competition’s branding etc.) because it can really produce completely new insights!

Getting in your competitors’ shoes can be very revealing.

Business outcomes of wargaming

At the end of the two-day wargaming workshop, you’ll leave with shared alignment: consensus on a chosen strategy or specific actions for addressing the question or objective at hand. With this data-driven approach you’ll have confidence in your decision, and be ready for immediate activation of your plan. And your team will have a great time doing it!

Here’s an example from a recent workshop:  A global consumer goods company wanted to showcase their commitment to sustainability through one of their portfolio brands. They were having trouble deciding which brand was most appropriate. Through the wargaming workshop, they identified a brand that was a perfect fit, but that nobody had considered previously because it was recently acquired. The participants left with alignment on the decision and were able to quickly implement their plan.

More strategies for data-driven, agile decision making

Need more help with holistic and agile decision making? Download our on-demand webinar to learn more about the data-fusion approaches leading companies are using to effectively integrate data and information sources.


Holistic decision making webinar