Strategy Decision Tests (Decision Tournaments)

If you would like to experience an ACS strategy decision test, please contact us. You can get a free, non-commercial taste of a decision test, and test your strategy skills against hundreds of other strategists,
in the ACS Top Pricer Tournament™.

See articles about the Top Pricer Tournament on the Harvard Business Review blog

The world’s most-advanced technology for testing strategy decisions

ACS Strategy Decision Tests™ (also called Decision Tournaments™) combine the best of your strategic thinking with patent-pending computer technology to produce extraordinary analysis of your strategy options. They can take into account many millions of scenarios — your moves, your competitors’ moves, others’ moves — to give you unparalleled insight into what could happen. You haven’t seen anything like this before because there hasn’t been anything like this before.

Inspired by Robert Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation, for which he won a MacArthur “genius” award, ACS built a technology platform— strategy decision tests (patent pending), also known as Decision Tournaments™ —to revolutionize decision-making in business strategy.

ACS’ technology is useful in business (and elsewhere) when you want to stress-test high-stakes strategy ideas. “Success” in a decision test, as in the real world, means getting what you want. So if you want profits, a strategy that succeeds will get you profits. Or at least the best profits possible, given the industry and competitors’ actions. You may want growth, share, deterrence, something else, or some combination. Your strategy decision test will show you what’s possible.

Overall strategy performance

The decision test provides a snapshot of the overall performance of the strategy you’re testing.

You can see how often that strategy beat other candidate strategies, and how often it fell short.

You can see how well it did on performance metrics such as profits and market share, on robustness (certainty of outcomes), and on dominance (whether you could do better if you were willing to trade one metric for another). You get additional detail too (see below).

All of that is based on how you value those outcomes: one performance metric versus another, performance versus risk and uncertainty, and so on.

Strategy robustness

The decision test shows you the robustness of the strategy you’re testing. It looks at many, many scenarios, and displays the range of what could happen. You can see if its performance is likely to fall in a narrow band, indicating robustness, or if it is more spread out, indicating risk and uncertainty.

The robustness test includes different strategy decisions made by your competitors. This feature, very hard to capture in other simulation techniques, makes decision tests especially powerful.

Strategy dominance

The decision test also sees if other strategies would do better than the one you may have chosen. That is, it looks for dominance, in which a strategy alternative might perform better on all the measures of success you care about, or in which a strategy alternative might trade one measure of success for another.

You can see how much better your strategy could perform if you selected a different strategy, you can see the details of that strategy, and you can get a full report on that strategy too.

In the conference room and the classroom

Strategy decision tests work both to test actual strategy options and to help strategists become better strategists.

Customized for your business, a decision test provides a realistic, thorough way to see what can happen.

Used with “generic” industries, a decision test provides a unique, thought-provoking way to teach vital principles of strategy.

Innovative and powerful

An ACS strategy decision test is innovative and extraordinarily powerful because:

  • It’s safe. Because it runs in a computer you can test ideas that might seem too innovative or risky to implement in real life.
  • It’s fast. It can run those tests in hours or even minutes.
  • It’s thorough. Our technology can test the robustness of your strategy options by simulating possible actions and reactions, even if there are hundreds of millions. You see the risks as well as the rewards.
  • It’s realistic. It’s customized to fit your business, your market, and your competitors.
  • It’s bottom-line oriented. You get a realistic look at your likely results, using the objectives — market share of units, return on sales, etc.— that matter most to you.

ACS decision-test technology is derived from our award-winning ValueWar™strategy simulator and can be fully customized for your business.

Experience it yourself

If you would like to experience an ACS strategy decision test, please contact us. You can get a free, non-commercial taste of a decision test, and test your strategy skills against hundreds of other strategists, in the ACS Top Pricer Tournament™.

Several essays on ACS’ website are based on ACS strategy decision tests. See Millions of Pricing Simulations, Predicting Competitors (which appears as an article in the Journal of Professional Pricing, published by the Professional Pricing Society), and When I Was Wrong.