You know the cliche: Business is so hard-charging, so do-or-die, that it feels like war. And no business battleground is more treacherous than finance — a world of tumultuous currency markets, confusing regulations, and high-stakes deal making.
Last June, to give business leaders a place to rehearse their battle plans, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP opened the War Room in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Groups of executives use the facility to review plans for such tasks as creating shareholder value and optimizing tax strategies.
The War Room, which cost $2.5 million to build, is designed to shake people up. "If we're going to ask clients to think out of the box, we need to be out of the box," says Troy Reimschisel, principal consultant and project manager for the War Room.
Theater-style lighting, which allows for 16 million different configurations, enables the War Room staff to set various moods. There is no traditional conference table; instead, visitors sit in chairs with small computer screens attached to them. A bank of 12 TV screens can display one large image or a dozen smaller images. And don't even think about nodding off: Four video monitors allow the staff to gauge reactions and to adjust the action accordingly.
Above all, the staff works to keep the action interactive. "It's not about sitting back while somebody lectures to you," says Reimschisel. "It's about becoming a part of the experience — envisioning your company's future."
A version of this article appeared in the Feb/March 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.