How PolyOne Built an Innovative One-Day Management Training Program with Capsim


Case Study – PolyOne-1
The Challenge 

PolyOne provides specialized polymer materials and services to enhance its customers’ products. With clients around the globe in industries as diverse as automobiles to cosmetics, all have one thing in common. Like PolyOne, they’re all innovators.

That drive for innovation is reflected in PolyOne’s tagline, “what if you could redesign…?” The company applied that same question to the training program it developed for its management team.

Limited to just one training day as part of a leadership conference, the corporation wanted to provide its managers with an immersive, team-based business experience. PolyOne knew that improving team-based decision-making needs time, so the organization approached Capsim for an innovative solution that minimized the timeframe but maximized impact. 

The Solution

In most simulation-based training programs, all teams start with the same set of parameters, select a strategy, and compete head-to-head. For PolyOne’s compressed program, Capsim advanced the simulation and set up each team as a “niche differentiator” to mirror the company’s own strategic approach.

Each team was assigned a senior executive coach to observe and provide feedback on team behaviors as well as decision-making skills. At the end of each round, Capsim instructor Tim Treger debriefed the financial results, and PolyOne coaches provided insights to help participants build better teams.

“There was a major ‘aha’ moment when individuals realized collaboration doesn’t have to equal consensus,” Tim said. “Some teams experienced that very different points of view—even disagreements—could be resolved in ways that added to, rather than detracted from, the decision-making dynamic. The need to make decisions quickly was challenging, but also provided powerful insight.” 

The Impact 

The company’s CEO, who makes team building a key management objective, monitored training throughout the day.

While financial results in the simulation fueled competitive energy, the feedback from coaches provided critical insight. They worked to ensure that each participant walked away with both valuable experience and an understanding of how to improve their teambuilding skills.

“Several senior vice presidents said it was the best leadership conference they attended,” said Cassandra Birchbauer, director of human resources at the company. “Certainly, the simulation going off flawlessly was important. But the feedback observers provided was a critical piece to improve our connectedness to the thinking of not only our senior leaders but also the next level down.”

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