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January 2013


Bringing the Boardroom to the Battlefield

Corporate Staff Ride NEWSLETTER - The National Park Service Shutdown

October 25, 2013

When I was on Wall Street and a disaster occurred, analysts were expected to be ready at 4:30 AM to comment on the effects on companies, earnings, outlook, brand, etc.

The Corporate Staff Ride business is largely dependent on the National Park Service, for its guides, logistics support, materials and especially its well preserved, safe, and totally accessible battlefields, monuments, historic sites, etc. Actual recreational visits and forecasts for the top five such locations are listed in Table One below.

The shutdown not only represented an immediate loss of revenue, it highlights an on-going, though manageable, risk that strengthens the argument for an “augmented reality” strategy that reduces or eliminates the dependence on an actual site visit for the heart of the Staff Ride experience. The cost and "softer" pressures during peak periods of budgetary crisis have led to cancelations, consolidations, last-minute staff ride redesigns and program cancellations. The pressure is greatest on those locations which are the most developed for staff rides, especially expensive, popular tourist destinations like Gettysburg.

The shutdown also strengthens the case for Staff Rides at smaller, closer, less traveled sites where the staff ride can be proprietary and designed to address specific corporate problems, thus increasing the likelihood that the practical leadership “lessons” taken from the Battlefield and the Boardroom are more focused and specific, rather than a general catalogue of leadership "virtues" taken out of a history book.

Table One
National Park Service Visitors (000’s)
Forecast 2010A-2012E
Source: Dept of the Interior, NPS March 2011

Park War 2010A 2011E 2012E 2-year Growth

Gettysburg* CW 1,031
Alamo Other 1,304 1,498 1,560 20%
Kennesaw Mtn CW 1,512 1,520 1,563 3%
Valley Forge Revolution 1,618 1,608 1,678 4%
Yorktown# Revolution 3,460 3,425 3,446 0%

*Under Review
#Colonial National Park

General Observations

• The shutdown hit the largest and “anniversary” sites the hardest – Gettysburg, Chickamauga, esp. when such sites have limited alternate tourist attractions

• During the budget crisis, Leavenworth’s Combat Studies Institute (CSI) released a new publication in their series: The Blackhawk War Staff Ride as well as a new Afghanistan War study of Battalion-level combat, available as an iPad application

• Requests fielded by CSI for Virtual Reality Staff Rides have been “pouring in” during FY2013 in spite of budget pressure and resumed on the day of the shutdown

• On the day the shutdown ended, 100 Penn State Alums visited Antietam as part of their outreach program

Quick Links

Applied Battlefield Concepts LLC adopts the US Army's Senior Leader Development Program (SLDP) tools for professional and management development and training in non-military organizations. The Corporate Staff Ride is our first product.
The Corporate Staff Ride is flexible in design and can be developed internally to address the specific leadership development and team-building issues of any organization. The cost of a developing and implementing a customized APPLIED BATTLEFIELD CONCEPTS LLC Corporate Staff Ride is $25,000-$50,000 plus expenses.
An intensive, experiential learning-based, leadership exercise conducted on the site of the "bloodiest day" in American history. The battle ended all hope of foreign intervention and was a major strategic Union victory, but the decisions, indecision, blunders, and perfectly calculated risks are a rich source for studying leadership in action at the pinnacle.
Structured around the Saratoga Campaign, 1777, this staff ride explores the most decisive strategic encounter of the Revolution, pitting the vainglorious, but diversely talented British General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne against the flagrantly ambitious and resentful Northern Continental Army commander, Gen. Horatio Gates. Minutes from Albany in an almost untouched condition amid beautiful surrounding (and manifold attractions).