General Mills Case Study


General Mills’ premier leadership programs for Directors and Vice Presidents had two objectives: 1) Develop improved multifunctional business skills in Directors in support of Mill’s Holistic Margin Management initiative, and 2) Develop coaching skills in Vice Presidents, to whom all Directors report.


Specific challenges for Directors and Vice Presidents included:

  • Organize and lead a business in a competitive environment.
  • Develop and display personal leadership and team-building skills.
  • Build awareness across all business functions.
  • Interact with, receive coaching and provide feedback to GM officers.
Vice Presidents
  • Practice coaching skills to improve team development.
  • Provide direction by “asking questions” rather than “giving answers.”
  • Receive “upward (subordinate) feedback” on their interaction skills.


General Mills’ Directors and Vice Presidents participated in a series of programs that resulted in huge benefits for participants. TRI Corp.’s simulation program activities included:

Pre-Program Preparation
  • Participants complete 360 degree review and 360 degree debrief
  • Participants conduct background research on simulation company that they will be managing.
  • OPTIONAL: Participate in 360 degree review session with one-on-one feedback.
  • OPTIONAL: Complete Hogan personality assessment and participate in debrief session.
Program Activities
  • Conduct 360 degree feedback debrief.
  • Prepare team goals and strategies.
  • Participate in Financial values lecture.
  • Simulation Introduction: Begin simulation and review 2006 plan
  • Conduct Operations Review with Officer/Owners
  • Structure Equity deals:
    • Prepare 2007 plan
    • Conduct Team Feedback session
  • Conduct Operations Review with Officer/Owners.
  • Team provides feedback to Officers.
  • Officers conduct Large Group Debrief.
  • Conduct Team Feedback session.
  • Review Financial Performance and discuss Lessons Learned.


  • Learn how to organize and lead a business in a competitive environment.
  • Develop cross functional awareness and improve business acumen while creating a high performance team.
  • Implement and view the impact of strategies and tactics to grow and create shareholder value.
  • Demonstrate innovative, critical thinking and complex decision-making capability while forecasting and mitigating risk and learning to deal with exogenous shocks.
  • Commit to and deliver an operational plan and develop the skills to understand and explain variances.
  • Experience the relationship between choices made and the results produced.
  • Use negotiation and communication for competitive advantage, while understanding the limitations of self-imposed constraints.
  • Leverage opportunity to interact with, receive coaching from and provide feedback to senior management.
Vice Presidents
  • Benefit from opportunity to learn and practice coaching skills.
  • Put skills into immediate practice by coaching a simulation team.
  • Practice a more Socratic, non-directive approach to giving guidance.
  • Learn how to use questioning techniques to solicit ideas and solutions from Director participants.
  • Use the Operating Review process to coach rather than just “grill” participants on results achieved against targets.
  • Experience the opportunity to receive “upward feedback” from Director participants.