Business war gaming

“Everyone has got a plan until they are punched in the mouth” (Mike Tyson) or “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” (Field Marshal Von Moltke) are well-known quotes that reflect bitter experience but also business reality.

Others will react to your actions and you will react to theirs, particularly in a competitive environment. 

How others will act or react, however, is not always known. If you had insight into this, as well as other factors that could positively or negatively affect the situation, you could identify options beforehand that enhance your plan and increase the odds of success.

Test and improve

Drawing on the principles of military wargames to simulate battlefield conditions and test and improve plans, business war gaming enables leaders to gain insight into what competitors, customers, or other key stakeholders could do, proactively or reactively, in a given situation and how best to prepare for a range of plausible situations. 

Business war games provide these insights by simulating three steps of a decision-making process in an interactive workshop. 

The game

Business war games can be played with two or more teams. 

One team owns the company’s plan or strategy to be tested and other teams role play key stakeholders based on a profound understanding of their intentions, capabilities and behaviors. 

The game starts when the commander-in-chief (often a senior or executive leader) communicates their intention and expectations. For example, the company intends to enter a new market and the expectation is that the teams stress-test the strategy so that an enhanced plan of action results. 

  • In the first round of the game, teams develop their own plans of action. 
  • These are presented in the second round to show the commander-in-chief and the other teams how they will act to achieve their goals. This leads to a shared understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s strategy. 
  • In the third round, the teams come together and use the lessons learned to develop one or more plans of actions for realizing the company’s goal.
    At the end of this third round, these plans are presented to the commander-in-chief, who can either select the best one or integrate aspects of multiple solutions into an even better plan.
Stress test

Business war gaming enables people to quickly gain better and broader insights, make decisions faster, more effectively and with greater impact. It builds commitment and enthusiasm for change.


To play a business war game to stress test your own plans or gain insight into how to navigate a complex and uncertain business landscape, we work with you and your team to: 

  • Prepare background information on key stakeholders and the situation at hand
  • Run the interactive business war game workshop and facilitate the rounds 
  • Capture lessons learnt and ideas for improvement in an after-action review

More about business war gaming for your organization?

Contact: Arnoud Franken
More about business war gaming for your organization?