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Business Simulation Used in ACQ-315, Understanding Industry

Business Acumen

Business Simulation Used in ACQ-315, Understanding Industry

Word map with the words "Business Acumen" in the center and larger than all other terms.
Mr. Charles Mahon

In a prior blog on business acumen, we stated “Knowing business inside out is a timeless requirement.” [from Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning by Manika Gandhi, January 24, 2022]. We also said that one of several definitions of Business acumen is a portfolio of skills, behaviors, and capabilities needed to support an organization in the achievement of its financial and strategic goals. [The Business Acumen Handbook].

In recent years, there has been a call for the Defense Acquisition Workforce to understand and gain skills in business acumen from many sources to include but not be limited to:

  • Defense Acquisition Organizations
  • Feedback from commercial companies
  • Input from Industry Trade Associations
  • Professional Membership Organizations
  • Congress

There are a number of courses, web events, workshops, and webpages specifically directed at providing business acumen content within DAU’s portfolio of courses.  To showcase one of the actions being accomplished by DAU concerning business acumen training is our change to course ACQ 315. 

DAU’s most mature course concerning business acumen, called ACQ 315/315V “Understanding Industry”, is constantly being reviewed and improved.  Recently a major step to enhance the course was to include an award-winning simulation in the curriculum.  DAU has folded in a simulation to the course from Advantexe [Advantexe Learning Solutions] and DAU is receiving positive response from its students.  Many professions use simulations to train employees.  Pilots, nuclear power plants, and many others use simulators; so why not train your business leaders and professionals the same way?

Advantexe states, on their website, that:  “Business simulations provide an interactive learning experience that requires participants to apply what they have learned in a business training event in a robust, risk-free environment. Participants build relevant skills, improve conceptual knowledge, and gain a better appreciation of business strategy and the systems of business management in order to build skills and improve performance.

An immersive program serves as the bridge between learning and real-life experience. It provides learners with the opportunity to make relevant decisions in a competitive marketplace in functions associated with roles in your company.”

DAU’s purpose in providing business acumen training is to make the Defense Acquisition Workforce savvy while executing acquisitions with our industry partners.  Industry knows all about our processes and big A acquisition. For instance, Industry hires defense acquisition experts to ensure they know how DoD does business and to leverage relationships.  It stands to reason we want DoD acquisition people to understand business acumen. Further, it can only make DoD better partners while executing acquisitions and to understand certain driving principles in capitalism and how capitalism works.

When asked why DAU decided to pursue this Simulation, the Learning Asset Manager, Mr. Brian Schultz, responded, "While the current excel file-based capstone game has some nice features, student feedback often highlighted negative aspects of the tool that made us look for other alternatives.  The excel tool was not user friendly and students spent significant time just learning how to fill it out versus using that time to analyze their business and make informed decisions.  The new tool is not only user-friendly but is also very interactive, enhancing the learning environment and enabling students to apply what they learned in previous lessons.  Our intent is to provide a learning experience that generates some positive energy around improved business acumen skills for our DoD students."   Our feedback to date includes close to 100% positive comments and the following is a sample:

  • I enjoyed it and would have liked more time in it
  • A+++++++ Great tool for this and possibly other classes
  • Excellent exercise.... the best one I've done in any private industry or government training class
  • Was an excellent learning tool! A significant highlight of the course.
  • It was a good opportunity to get hands on by making decisions for the simulated company 
  • The simulation helped reinforce what I learned in class.  It was well thought out and productive.
  • Real life experience. 
  • It was very impressive, it helps me understand what all industry looks at prior to bidding.
  • It was new and interesting
  • Great tool, generally easy to use
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