CI 401 – War Gaming

WHEN: June 12-13, 2024 Virtual

CREDITS: 1.8 CEU CREDITS (2 Day Course)

kevin curren

Prerequisites of CI 301: Competitive Blindspots or CI 302: Cross-Competitor Analysis highly recommended. Also, to gain the greatest benefit from this two-day program, be prepared to review the case material in advance.

War Gaming (Strategy Pressure Test) is an old military planning tool but only recently it has been adapted for commercial use. Its popularity in recent years can be traced in part to the influence of Dr. Gilad’s book, Business War Games (Career Press, 2009) which was the first practical manual for structuring and running war games for business. War Gaming is by far the most effective technique known to planners and decision makers to test strategic moves and initiatives at the corporate, business unit, market or product level before committing significant resources to them. War Gaming is also a most effective tool for setting priorities, managing healthy conflict in executive teams, and building consensus across the organization. The idea behind all war games is a realistic simulation of the perspectives of all major players which at the end invariably affect the success of strategy in a much more significant way than anticipated by most companies. The “battle” is to pressure-test strategic options which are robust in light of expected moves and countermoves by major players and an industry’s changing landscape.

Combining theory and practice, you will learn to:

  • Role-play competitors with the most cutting edge techniques
  • Learn to run both “Landscape” and “Competitor Response” war games
  • Make the most accurate predictions of third parties’ moves
  • Identify all the steps needed to organize and play effective games
  • Learn precisely the role of intelligence in a war game

Participants can purchase Dr. Gilad’s book, Business War Games (Career Press, 2008)

Here we list the key questions that this seminar addresses. If you can answer “yes” to three or more of the 10 questions posed for this course, it will meet your needs.

Do you need to…

  1. Predict your competitors’ strategies and actions for the next year?
  2. Predict industry evolution path for the next 1-3 years?
  3. Learn to develop creative strategic options and think like an entrepreneurial company?
  4. Update executive participants (during a management retreat) with the latest developments in your competitive arena and the resulting implications to your company’s future?
  5. Assess the competitive environment before the strategic planning cycle begins?
  6. Identify your company’s strategy weaknesses?
  7. Learn to track competition in emerging industries?
  8. Shift management’s attention to an external focus?
  9. Introduce competitive thinking into marketing, research, and business development plans?
  10. Assess your rivals’ technological, commercial strategies, as well as your customers’ future directions?

All ACI programs teach students how to overcome the most challenging competitive intelligence issues. The following are sample lessons taught in this course:

Anticipating Competitor Actions in a Constantly Changing Market

Your company is developing a new line of products, an investment of $36 million. The new line is based on your company’s existing competence in processing technology, and should have a synergy, marketing wise, with your other very strong, market-leading brands.

The market has a big competitor, K, with 34% of the share, and three others (W, H, and Z) with around 10% each. Thirty- six percent is divided among regional players. Your marketing plan calls for a national roll out within a year, and 7 % market share within 18 months.


  1. 1. Based on the competitor analysis framework, which competitor would you target? Which one of the four-corners is the most relevant for this decision (strategy, drivers, capabilities or management assumptions)?
  2. Which competitor would you avoid and why? How do you avoid a competitor? Would a strategic map help?
  3. Running a war game with the above players, how do you quantify the risks associated with each potential strategy?

Creating War Games for Your Executives

Your company’s executives are going on an annual strategy retreat. They asked you what could CI contribute to this meeting. You suggested a CI-based war game to chart the industry’s future. In support of your claim, you have to summarize the benefits of a war game to strategic planning, assess how much work is involved, and present the expected outcomes of the game.


  1. Is a war game appropriate for a senior strategy forum? How is it superior to senior executives’ own experience in the industry?
  2. How does one draw scenarios, and what type of scenarios are drawn using a war game? Why is a war game superior to a typical scenario building exercise using computer simulation and an outside consulting firm?
  3. What early warning system can spring up from a good war game? Why is it superior to interviews as a method of intelligence needs assessment?
  4. How does one perform strategic risk identification and assessment within in a war game framework?

How to Devise an Entry Strategy Against a Giant

The problem of Fuji is that it was running against a huge and entrenched competitor, Kodak. Its quest to enter the U.S. market was at best somewhat suicidal. Kodak held between 75 to 90 percent of the market share in different segments, and tied major distribution channels as an entry barrier. What entry strategies held a chance in hell against such a formidable competitor?


  1. Can you win against a much larger competitor, on its territory, with enormous entry barriers? What entry strategies work under these conditions? What philosophy is required to make the entry successful?
  2. What CI data will help you in pushing the competitor to commit significant resources to the wrong cause?
  3. What can you do, as the larger competitor, to block entry into your own markets by a smaller, foreign competitor?
  4. Can you draw a scenario of what the outcomes of the battle are going to be based on a CI analytical framework? (Hint: If you are talented, yes!)