To be able to “business” in well, business, it requires some skills that aren't widely taught nor recognised. In fact, 65% of executives believe that a lack of Business Acumen is limiting their organisation’s ability to execute strategy (The Economist Intelligence Unit). Whilst the idea of Business Acumen is well known in business and executive circles, a clear definition of what this really means, is hard to find and then interpret and apply.
If you were to google business acumen, the general definition you get is around the acumen being the keenness and speed in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a way that produces a positive business outcome. It's a super vague and honestly somewhat useless definition, which really tells us nothing about the true nature and presence of well defined business acumen.
Fortunately for us, especially here in Melbourne, Quad Assessments developed the Business Acumen Gauge assessment which has been tested and validated by Monash University, to assist in the mapping and measuring of Business Acumen in Leadership and Organisational Performance. From this they clearly defined Business Acumen and it’s perhaps the best definition of it we’ve found here at Helix Planning. It’s clear, easy to understand, relate to, and most important of all, implement!
This definition brings the critical capabilities identified by top tier leaders as being fundamental for organisational success under one banner shall we say..
“Business acumen is the capability to both know and demonstrate the key attributes of your role that allow you to succeed in running your business” Quad Assessments
The Business Acumen Gauge definition is made up of eleven capabilities, each one demonstrated by the way you respond to circumstances. It’s these categories that come together and create a wheel of, or holistic business acumen; and give you deep insight into your ability to understand and demonstrate business acumen within your business or job role. These behaviours then become innate, and start driving your business decisions- where you respond to what is happening in business, rather than react.
Mindset represents your mental attitudes or predispositions. Sometimes this is referred to as your unconscious bias- you know, the way you think and react to things. There is a direct relationship between your mental attitudes and your responses to and interpretations of situations. They are also indicators of your preferences and habits and they have a direct influence on the way you may demonstrate business acumen.
Foresight is your ability to step back to get a total picture of the business and see its future. To really take stock of where things are and where they could end up, based on the decisions you make. Foresight is the ability to detect unfavourable change early, interpret the consequences for your business and generate effective responses to ensure long-term survival and success.
This is your ability to acquire and use information about trends, events, possibilities and relationships in the external environment and understand their impact on your business. It’s the consideration of the “broader business” when making decisions, using your knowledge to understand the influence of the external environment on the organisation. People who have strong broad scanning skills, use consistent research and knowledge to be able to see cause and effect relationships; are continually scanning for business impact and are significantly less likely to be caught off guard by an external event - like market force changes, competitor actions, and even the extent of something as unparalleled as the COVID 19 pandemic. Quality broad scanning operators, also proactively seek customer feedback, as they understand the full circle approach to customer service and recognise the connected nature of the customer experience to business success. Often as a result, they can speak with insight and authority on a customer's changing requirements. This for us here at Helix Planning is deemed perhaps one of the highest required capabilities for success.
Strategy is the choices and moves you make in the endeavour to achieve your goals, in life and business. Strategic alignment therefore is about creating, setting and executing strategic direction which is designed to improve business performance, move away from what you don’t want for the business, and hit those key goals. It takes a high level of leadership to steer the ship through the choppy waters, and strategic alignment is the plotted path between ports.
The Collaborative capability describes working with others to achieve common objectives. Kinda speaks for itself right? Well, it is, but it is also the development of your team and advisors to all “collaborate” towards the strategic alignment of the business. See what we did there? Lol the Collaborative capability requires active participation AND engagement. Not tokenism.
Resource management is optimally rationing resources - materials, people, time and finance. It’s the demonstration of the business owner’s (your) capability to meet the needs of your business and/or project and adequately supply the necessary requirements of the task, whilst ensuring productivity, waste reduction, sustainability where possible, and ditch the inefficiencies that cost you time, money and people.
Systems and process refers to the set up of your business, and efficiently identifying, developing and using management information systems and technology to drive success. It’s a latticework of people and processes that needs to be continually monitored to ensure its synergy and benefit with your business.
This is a capability often taken for granted. A lot of people struggle to make any decisions, let alone the ones that count! Making sound choices, relies on the capabilities above; and can be its own structured process to ensure quality outcomes. Assessing from the available options, then identifying necessary actions and sharing these insights with others and following this format continually can provide clarity in the decision making process.
Talent development is more than assessing and developing key talent and performance to meet business needs. Sure, it’s a part of it, but this capability also is the demonstration of a leader or business owner’s ability to spend time and engage with their staff, give quality and useful feedback and develop long term growth opportunities for their staff, whilst creating and nurturing a supportive and safe culture.
A duty of care is enshrined in leadership. It is the choice to serve the business or organisation over self interest, and be accountable to your actions, and the outcomes on the greater business scale. It is about caring about the impact of your decisions, actions and language on staff and others and extends to your entire business, the economy and the environment.
This is the ability to understand, interpret and apply financial data. From cash flows to budgets and the reading of financial documents; to the application of the understanding of this information on your business decisions, Financial Literacy is a keystone in the success of business. It filters directly into Strategic Planning, and has straight through impact on all decisions within the business.
Understanding business acumen and the capabilities most relevant to your role, measuring your performance against the capability framework, and improving your behaviours with immediate, tactical and commercial outcomes is vital for success as a business owner. Using the Business Acumen Gauge assessment, you can gain a clear definition that allows you to pick exactly where you need to improve your skill set to help drive your business success.
So if 65% of executives believe that a lack of Business Acumen is limiting their organisation’s ability to execute strategy, what are you going to do to change this in your business or organisation?
Helix Planning offers the ultimate capability assessment for business owners who want to assess their behaviours that are linked with success, and hone in on the tactical changes that will increase your effectiveness and overall business prosperity. You’ll get a snapshot specific to your role and business of where you are currently spending your energy versus where it is considered important to actually spend or invest your energy.
The Business Acumen Gauge assessment is a leading edge approach to testing the knowledge and demonstration of the capabilities of Business Acumen in your organisation. It’s a non emotive, 360 style assessment that can provide profound data to drive your business towards success. This easy process involves:
If you’d like to get a clear picture of what you need to do differently to create a more successful business, contact Helix Planning on 0421 079 415 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The results are likely to surprise you!
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