ARSC's expert facilitation of a global SaaS company's Table Top Exercise generated the email below from one of their most demanding business stakeholders! If you want to move your exercises from ho-hum check-the-box events to business-valued leadership development opportunities, contact us!
Exercise Types and Examples
Walkthroughs for validating and information-sharing
Mr. Mannella has facilitated Plan Reviews for management teams in Paris, New York, Mississauga, Memphis and other locations, with team sizes ranging from seven to over thirty. These reviews, where each department explains their strategy ad goes through their responses, are invaluable for identifying duplicate or missing responses, truing up plans and ensuring plug-compatibility. Mr. Mannella also brings outside perspective and proper plan design to the exercises.
Table Top Exercises:
"Practice on Paper" against hypothetical scenarios
Table Tops are a great opportunity for management teams to 'flex their muscles', move their thinking from the theoretical to the practical and apply it to a realistic situation, practicing with their plans "on the tabletop". Mr. Mannella has designed scenarios and put teams through their paces, throwing in surprises along the way. A typical reaction from participants is, "Wow, that was only pretend, but I'm exhausted!" Examples include:
National Retail Bank: Team=IT management. Participants=80. Scenario=Gas explosion by their data center. Prelude: the exercise was initially designed for 18 participants but "went viral" at the Bank. Mr. Mannella and the team successfully scrambled to scale up the exercise and move it to a hotel ballroom to accommodate the unexpected surge.
Global Internet Retailer: Team=Business leadership: Directors and VP's. Participants=85. Scenario=Nearby highway explosion and road closures, with casualties. Postscript: comment from the observing CFO: "Wow, putting this business back on its feet is more complicated than I thought!"
Global Pharmaceutical Company: Team=Shared Services Executive Team. Participants=25. Scenario=Building fire and loss of technology, with casualties. Best Practice: the team had an opportunity to experience the 'death' of some of their team halfway through the exercise.
European HQ located in London: Team=Leadership. Participants=12. Scenario=Civil unrest, commute interruptions including Tube closures. Postscript: one executive complained after the exercise: "You're training us under unrealistic scenarios!" Three months later... Occupy London, with... civil unrest, commute interruptions and Tube closures
Low-Disruptive Activation and Response
Functional Simulations enable an organization to test out its responses and run the business in 'contingency mode' in parallel with normal operations. Teams get the experience in trying out the plan and enablers with little risk. Outcomes of a Functional Sim include vetting of the plans, identification of weak spots, and fixing issues from coordination to capacity of alternate means before they are needed for real. Mr. Mannella has run these exercises in two continents, dealing with vendor Emergency Work Center activations, mass Work-From-Home tests, communications spin-ups and more.
Example: EMEA Business Operation based in London. Team-Business Management plus critical staff. Scenario=Office damage by protesters during London Olympic Games. Best Practice: the two days of parallel contingency-mode operation at the Emergency Work Centre allowed for rotation of staff and increased practice opportunities; plus the management team participated in a Table Top at the Centre's Crisis Command Centre, observed by London Met Police, Borough of Islington Emergency Management Office and a private-sector volunteer, all serving as a proxy for the Board of Directors.
Live-Fire Mock Events:
Forcing "The Real Thing"
The ultimate exercise is causing a business interruption - under safe and controlled conditions - and forcing the organization to "run the business from the street." This is high-value but high-risk: it requires knowledge and experience to manage a live event, from accommodating local country sensitivities, to coordinating with civil authorities, to designing communications that won't falsely represent the business 'in the wild', to monitoring and capturing the issues in real time where there's no pause/ rewind/ redo. Mr. Mannella has a track record of international experience that is difficult to find elsewhere. Here's the partial rundown:
Toronto, office of 50, surprise off-hours building closure and loss of servers
Mississauga, office of 50, evacuation and building closure the day of their quarterly Executive Business Review. They conducted the EBR call from their Emergency Work Center with no hiccups!
Milan, office of 60, fire drill with no right of return
Munich, office of 55, fire drill and forced activation of emergency Command Center in hotel space
Paris, office of 130, semi-surprise building closure and next-day activation of Emergency Work Center
San Francisco, office of 250, semi-surprise building closure and next-day activation of Emergency Work Space
How do you know your program is strong? How do you know - really know - that your plans will work? That your people will work?
Exercises are an ARSC special area of focus. We view exercises as catalysts for:
-Prepared and confident managers
-Gaps filled in
-Weaknesses discovered and fixed
-Technology and enablers proven and ready to go
ARSC's Managing Principal has a unique experience set that includes international experience and full "Building Closed" forced activations.