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Business War Games: How Large, Small, and New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies and Outmaneuver the Competition Paperback – 1 Aug 2008
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"Ben Gilad is the undisputed master of war gaming." --Jeff Webster, General Manager, Tyson Renewable Energy Division and Senior Vice President, Strategy, Tyson Foods
"Ben Gilad's war-gaming process not only provides participants with better insights into market dynamics and competitive threats but it reveals a company's internal culture and the political `elephants' that are often the biggest obstacles to a successful outcome." --Stephen N. Heath, former President, Commercial Engine Division, Pratt & Whitney
"Gilad is the guru of war gaming. He can focus your vision and test your assumptions like no one else can." --Wayne Rosenkrans, Business Strategy Director, External Scientific Affairs, Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
About the Author
For more than 30 years, Benjamin Gilad ran war games for market-leading Fortune 500 firms in a variety of industries and on all five continents. He is a former associate professor of strategy at Rutgers University's School of Management and the founder and president of The Academy of Competitive Intelligence. A pioneer of competitive intelligence theory and practice in the United States, he has been called "our CI guru" by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. He holds a PhD in economics, an MBA, and BA in psychology and philosophy. He can be reached through his site, www.GiladWarGames.com.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
1. War games using computer simulations. These are expensive and lack realism.
2. War games using game theory models. These also include high priced consultants and computer models, but lack realism because of their emphasis on achieving equilibrium, which markets are anything but.
3. War games using analytical and behavioral models. This is what the author advocates and focuses on. This type of war game is cheaper and more realistic.
A typical business war game lasts between one and one and a half days, with 12-48 company personnel broken out to teams numbering no more than 6, and with 3-8 members per team. There is a host team who presents the current company plan, and various other teams representing competitors who play devil's advocate. The process relies heavily on competitive intelligence, and through role playing attempts to simulate reactions of competitors to the company plan.
The dismissive effort of Mr. Gilad of the first two models using computer simulation is easy to swallow. Much of the psychological factor of markets and humans is ignored or ill utilized by computer simulation models - Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (New in Paper)
Mr. Gilad's behavioral model accounts for the importance of psychology and emotion, which is the basis of most decision making in business, albeit most business literature would have us believe otherwise.
There are, however, a couple of glaring critiques of Mr. Gilad's behavioral model:
Mr. Gilad's objective is to "teach you step-by-step how to organize, prepare, and run your war game with your team at a fraction of the cost of the big consultants." p. 14
There is next to no chance of anyone successfully organizing a war game based on the material in this book alone. An effort as involved as this would surely need a trained consultant such as Mr. Gilad to set up the game and act as a moderator.
To a lesser extent, Mr. Gilad's version of war games is also largely dependent on corporate cultures that operate objectively, transparently, and are open to critique of their planning. Most companies lack in one or more of these areas, thereby further necessitating the need for a highly credentialed and experienced expert such as Mr. Gilad to run the war game.
In short, Mr. Gilad's war games method is cheaper and more realistic without the need for an army of expensive consultants but one.
I need to be frank, if you make your living in one of the big consulting firms, promoting six and seven figure war games dependent on hoards of consultants, senior executives of the hiring firm, algorithm laden simulations and expensive computers, you won't like this book. If on the other hand, you want to be able to pressure test your strategies, and tactics, anticipate your competitor's responses and develop counters, model the effectiveness of the competitive environment, anticipate government regulation and industry movements than this book is for you. It will help if you have an understanding of competitive intelligence and how to analyze competitive blind spots. Ben discusses both, however only in sufficient detail to make you realize there may be more books you need to read.
Business War Games, is a practical guide to defining what is to be tested, selecting and compiling the intelligence necessary to pressure test the strategy along with the tools to accomplish the task. He covers the pitfalls, provides tips on keeping individuals off the team that will not add value, even if they are senior execs. He provides checklists and techniques that render them dynamic even kinetic rather than static boxes to be checked. As mentioned above this is not an academic work, Ben doesn't lecture the reader, but rather through experience in hundreds of war games successful and not, imparts his experience to the reader.
Ben Gilad is a leading practitioner in the field of competitive intelligence and leading business war games for Fortune 100 companies. I preordered this book and was excited to receive my copy on the release date. I was just as excited upon completion of the book two days later. The book itself is perfectly sized to be comfortably held in the hand well stuck in an airport or in that coach seat in the middle, fits nicely in your brief case. A very readable book at 205 pages. My only wish is that everyone who reads this book would have had the chance to meet Ben in person and study and practice the art with him in person. He is a rich, motivational and unique resource. This book represents an excellent investment; my hope is that you will enjoy, and that you are not a competitor in my industry.
With that said, there are a small number of business books that provide the tools, processes and direction to truly learn how to effectively outmaneuver and outsmart your competition. Dr. Gilad's newest book is one of them. (so is his other book, "Business Blindspots" - get that one too)
In Business War Games, not only will you learn the specific tools necessary to run an effective war game, but you will also learn the reasons for a war game and the methodology for convincing the executive team on why it's necessary. This is critical...the majority of executives engage in "navel gazing" (love that term!) when deciding on strategy. You'll need to know more than the "what and how" to run a war game...you need the "why". Dr Gilad provides that.
For those that have responsibilities in competitive intelligence or strategic planning, this book is one that you truly need.
Or, you can stay in your fantasy world...