lllumina works in a field of extraordinary complexity but has one simple goal: to unlock the power of the human genome. The company provides equipment and services for genetic sequencing, genotyping, and gene expression in a wide range of research and clinical applications.
When the current CEO joined the company in 1999, it had 25 employees. After explosive growth, it now employs over 9,000 people. Likewise, when the company offered its IPO in 2001, the share price was $16. Today, its stocks are trading at more than $200 per share.
“The company’s biggest challenge from a training perspective,” remembers Capsim instructor Jason Scott Earl PhD, “in two words was unbelievable growth.”
Investing heavily in professional development, the company created a two-year training curriculum to help build the leadership skills of its high-potential managers.
In close collaboration with Frank Lynch, Illumina’s associate director of leadership and professional development, Capsim designed a two-day onsite program including pre-work webinars. With the goal of fostering active discussion on some of the big questions facing the business, it was the first group exercise of the two-year program.
“We really tried to pin down the strategic questions that management found imperative its new leadership team consider in their future roles,” Dr. Earl said. The simulation experience revolved around four key questions:
1. Where are the possible areas of disruptive innovation to Illumina’s core business?
2. What key ethical questions need to be considered?
3. How could products be repositioned for new markets?
4. How can managers retain authenticity with employees in the face of a company becoming more bureaucratic and less entrepreneurial over time?
“I was amazed at the depth of discussion that came from the ethical decision-making case study we added,” Dr. Earl said. “The participants clearly saw the financial impact of their decisions. It was a great learning experience for them as they listened to each other and shared their thoughts with the group.”
Mr. Lynch had used custom business simulations in other companies but told the Capsim team he learned something about simulations through our simulation experience.
“Frank pointed out the customization does not really come from what’s on the computer screen. It comes from the connections the participants make between the strategic decisions in the simulation and the ones made by leaders at all levels in their own company,” Dr. Earl continued.
Illumina continues to use Capsim’s simulation as the final event of their
leadership development program.