Introduction to the Commercial awareness challenge

The challenge is designed to lead you through a series of questions and quests in your own organisation to increase your commercial awareness. We suggest this might take you a little time over the course of 5 days (or one working week) to complete.

You will probably be able to complete the challenge more quickly if you find someone else, or a small group, to work with as you can then share what you already know, your contacts and the task of gathering the information.

It requires you to:

  • Search and find relevant information about your organisation. Each day we will provide you with a short self-assessed quiz of up to 10 questions to test your knowledge of your own organisation.

  • If you know all the answers, that is fantastic – your quest is over for the day and you are ready to move on.

  • If you don’t understand all the questions, there are some further explanations and hints and tips on how to find out more.

  • Specifically, what you need to find out about your own organisation is going to require you to consult with colleagues and exchange questions and answers with them so learning from each other.

  • Analyse the information you gather and start using what is most relevant to you. This may mean organising it in such a way that you could present it to others and communicate key points effectively.

What is commercial awareness and why do I need it?

All organisations need to remain relevant to their customers, audiences and stakeholders. This entails the ability to deliver products, services, and customer service that is at least as good as they can get elsewhere, if not better.

Commercial awareness means understanding more about how your organisation is run, how it creates and delivers value, its essential activities and who does what. It ensures you are connected with your colleagues and internal customers, as well as customers, service users, suppliers and stakeholders.

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Figure 1 The dynamic process of commercial awareness (The Open University, Module BG20, Commercial Awareness)

Anyone working in the field of professional advice, such as accountants, solicitors, financial advisers, management consultants and so on, needs commercial awareness. Their fees are charged in the expectation of relevant and reliable advice. In this context, commercial awareness means remaining current in your field, and demonstrating an understanding of your client’s context, and the implications and application of changes in regulation, law, taxation, etc. to ensure adherence or compliance. You could use this leadership challenge as a framework for understanding a client organisation.

In this context, as an adviser, your integrity and reputation is closely linked to commercial awareness and it is a key attribute of being a competent professional adviser. Having developed this mindset, you will learn techniques to ensure that you retain vital commercial awareness in your future roles and equip yourself to progress in the world of work.

Now you can go to Challenge 1 Outside in [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .