By: Cherry Birch On: September 27, 2021

In the last two weeks, I have been running virtual workshops on the topic of commercial capability. These workshops formed part of a larger leadership development program which was being rolled out for both Emerging and Aspiring leaders.

When I was approached by the client and we started identifying the learning outcomes to be achieved by these modules, we agreed that whilst financial acumen should play a major part in the material covered by these programs, the content needed to go further.

So firstly, it’s important to establish what is meant by commercial capability. In researching this online, I found this great graphic for commercial awareness:

In my experience, all too often managers are focused on the immediate tasks that they need to complete, and do not spend time looking outside their own organisations and ensuring they are across what is happening in their industry, the economy and global developments. This wider, ideally future focused, view of the environment is critical to developing commercial capability.

So in designing the workshops, I decided to create a quiz which would test both their knowledge of the wider commercial world as well as their own company and industry. Pre-covered, I have been able to run this exercise face to face and we have had some fun In the classroom, using buzzers. With the Zoom sessions we had to be more inventive -so we used the ‘raise hands’ function on Zoom!

Here are a few examples of the questions which were asked:


  1. What is the current Reserve Bank cash rate?
  2. What is the current US/ AUS exchange rate?
  3. What is the ASX 200? Did the ASX 200 go up or down yesterday?
  4. What is the current level of consumer confidence? Is the trend positive or negative?
  5. Is this the same for the NAB business confidence index? Is the trend positive or negative?

Company specific

  1. What market share does the Company have?
  2. Which of the following has the most profitable GP margin (from a list of revenue streams)? 
  3. What additional revenue is needed to be to cover each extra $1 spend on Opex?
  4. How has COVID impacted the Company financially?
  5. What are the challenges facing the industry?

The quiz was very well received and of course created a lot of competition! In debriefing I also invited participants to share what they currently did to ensure they kept up to date and had this external focus.

With the Emerging Leaders we looked at Strategic Thinking and a case study on a company in their industry that had failed as well as business cases – the latter a great opportunity for leaders to demonstrate their commercial capability in spotting opportunities to create value for the company.

Please do get in touch with us, if building Commercial Capability and the approach which I have outlined above, is of interest.