The Jenks Group's war game training on a movie set in San Diego. Photo courtesy Jenks Group
The Jenks Group’s war-game training on a movie set in San Diego. Photo courtesy The Jenks Group

The Jenks Group, a consulting firm based in Solana Beach, is using former Navy SEALS and a battlefield movie set to train senior executives.

The company’s Strategic Operations Skills Training, or SOST, was developed to put seasoned executives through physically and mentally challenging exercises that provide them with a fresh outlook and renewed traction toward achieving their corporate goals.

Four years in development, the program uses a realistic battlefield on a San Diego film studio lot to instill six “game-changing” skills. Instruction by former Navy SEALS and state-of-the-art Hollywood special effects heighten the experience for participants.

Sharon Jenks, the company’s founding principal, studied the characteristics that make some executives successful while others struggle. “Far and above any other specific trait, the ability to execute on assigned initiatives is what separated those who are extremely successful from those who struggle,” she said. “What we determined is that there are hard skills that can be taught.”

One of the challenges, she said, is in educating and motivating senior executives to manage the change that’s required to move a company forward. “Once someone is engaged for a few years, they tend to settle into a routine that delivers a predictable outcome, and that’s good,” she said.

“The downside is that in settling into that routine, they also deliver a routine outcome. Our SOST program helps break up the logjam and offers the executive participant an opportunity to learn new skills that provide different perspectives.”

Over the course of two days, executive groups participate in intensive physical and mental exercises modeled on successful military strategies. The skills learned in field exercises are subsequently debriefed in the classroom.

“If you want to meet a team of the most highly trained task-to-mission experts in the world, those would be our U.S. Navy SEALs instructors,” said Jenks. “They are top drawer game-changers.”

One executive who took advantage of an opportunity to preview the program said it redefined for him the importance of good communication during high-stress activities. “It was pretty amazing,” said Jim Canfield, CEO of Renaissance Executive Forums. “I think what it does is allow you to feel what it really feels like when you’re in the middle of split-second decision making.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.