General Mills

Kevin Wilde
Chief Learning Officer (CLO)
General Mills

I worked with TRI Corporation during my tenure at GE’s Leadership Center at Crotonville. There we used a TRI Corp. simulation as the capstone in the Management Development Course – one of GE’s premier leadership programs. It was a natural for us to call on TRI Corp. as we planned a new program for Director level managers at General Mills. Our objectives were two-fold: 1) develop improved multifunctional business skills in our Director population in support of our Holistic Margin Management initiative, and 2) develop coaching skills in our Vice Presidents, to whom all Directors report.

The result was an innovative program involving both populations, in which the Vice Presidents acted as owner coaches of the simulation companies managed by the Directors. The Vice Presidents also functioned as Operational Reviewers of their simulation company’s annual business performance. Former CEO Steve Sanger commented in a Fortune Magazine article about General Mills’ leadership development activities. He said that the business understanding fostered by the TRI Corp. simulation experience had resulted in huge benefits – for example, R&D managers coming up with innovative solutions to resolve marketing challenges.

TRI Corp. responded quickly with one of their existing simulations, using a business quite different from General Mills. This took people out of their comfort zone and forced them to think strategically, rather than getting bogged down in the minutia of “this simulation isn’t exactly like General Mills.” The TRI Corp. approach also allowed us to introduce specialized scenarios based on General Mills’ business issues with a minimum of cost and effort.

Their use of live interactive role play made the experience as realistic as possible in a simulated business environment. Both our Directors and Vice Presidents found the experience to be dynamic and rewarding. Several Vice Presidents have volunteered to participate in second and third programs. Alumni Directors, those newly promoted to Vice President, have also volunteered to participate in the next round of programs.

TRI Corp.’s program has enabled us to significantly and dramatically enhance our Directors' and Vice Presidents' skills and professional competencies. The program truly has been a “Champion” for General Mills.