By Bruce Griffiths M.S.

After a two year COVID pause for the return of face-to-face training, we recently restarted delivery of our Paper Nation simulation for a large Midwest retailer. This organization had been using the simulation to educate a cadre of high potential middle managers (store and HQ) in strategic leadership competencies (Strategic Thinking, Visioning, Financial Acumen, Business Acumen, and Risk-Taking).

These select high potential middle managers, through simulation participation, were given a chance to experience the most senior roles in our simulated company, Paper Nation.

The OSI Paper Nation experience assigns nine or 10 participants to teams representing the highest roles of a global B2B paper manufacturer. They must grow the business over a five year period with aggressive goals in finance, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and clarity and communication of strategy.

The program includes formal instruction in strategy and finance (sometimes delivered by the sponsoring CEO and CFO), but the majority of time participant teams must form, storm, norm, and perform in the context of a competitive landscape. Each role is assigned key decisions which incumbents must align to realize a coherent strategy. Business cases for large capital expenditures are presented to further explore Strategic Thinking, Financial Acumen, Risk-Taking, and Business Thinking. 

Each team receives five “annual reports” provided at the end of every fiscal year, and can track progress against strategic targets. “Industry Summits” are held in which teams mix and compare progress with other team members in the same role.

In addition to learning finance from the CFO’s perspective, and actually seeing a strategy play out over 5 years, participants regularly report an increased understanding of a complete business system, plus increased empathy for the complexity their senior leadership team confronts.

Paper Nation has been recognized by ATD as a “Best Practice” in leadership development. For more information about this simulation contact Crystal Matsuura at OSI at or 858.455.0923.