“No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy”
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.
This is still one of the army’s favourite sayings, paraphrasing the views of a Prussian General born over 200 years ago. Drilled into even the youngest recruits, it encourages a mindset which expects reality to diverge from expectations, simply because adversarial human activity in the real world is far too complex to reliably predict. As a result of this mindset, soldiers deploying into the field will carry their waterproofs when the forecast is fine and have spare laces in their kit somewhere; because (in a more gritty version of von Moltke’s maxim) Shit Happens, and we need to be ready for things we didn’t expect.
There are two sides to managing the risk inherent in every plan. On one side, individuals and teams need to behave and prepare in a way which allows them to be agile and resilient; on the other, the plan itself needs to be simple and flexible enough to adjust and evolve in response to the unexpected; it needs to be understood by those delivering it and it needs to be realistic.
Evocatus Consulting uses games to help our clients make and test their plans. By bringing in elements of uncertainty and simulating the action of the plan, we can achieve a range of benefits.
Why Game the Plan?
To Check the Detail
A plan might only exist in a conceptual space. Running a gaming exercise which works through a plan to it’s conclusion can help to check the practical details and even identify how to use resources more efficiently.
TO IDENTIFY RISKS
Playing through a plan can help identify the critical points where a combination of factors work in an unexpected way. A game will allow you to test responses to significant risks and allow the team to deal with various scenarios.
For Engagement & Communication
We know that plans are often developed in stove pipes, despite the best intentions. By turning the planning session or the briefing into a game or an exercise, we can often help our clients break out of those stovepipes to approach their plan (for a short time at least) in a cross-functional team. This not only improves the quality of the plan but ensures that there is broader understanding and engagement from those who might be required to do most of the work to bring the plan to fruition.
A game can be used to review and refine contingency plans whilst getting the whole team engaged in the process. A rehearsal can have real benefits for teamwork and leadership for those involved.
How do we do it?
We can run exercises to test plans on a number of scales.
At the lowest level, we can run a table top exercise, which will usually involve the participants focussing on a map or a plan of a building, on which the action takes place. This provides an opportunity to rehearse the plan or work through alternative solutions to a problem.
Some plans are more about communicating and competing than about detailed physical activity. We really enjoy running games which create tension between players, using a red team to inject an element of competition. We’ve used bespoke video content to really promote engagement with these exercises, along with a simulated media team. These games always create real energy and buzz, even when they are about topics which might initially seem a bit dry.
Command Post Exercise:
If the plan is all about effective decision making in good time, we can run an exercise which puts the key individuals in a room and bring the scenario to them through a range of simulated feeds. This is a particularly effective way for leaders to gain an understanding of their part in delivering the plan effectively.
Finally, we can run a live exercise, with the simulated action taking place either in the location we’re planning for or in a different location. By using actors, news crews, simulated casualties and even film pyrotechnics, we can run a rehearsal which feels very close to real for those involved.
By running games and exercises for you, we can make sure that your plans are as ready as they can be for when “Shit Happens”.
We can make sure that the plan is one which your team has bought into and one which they understand.
The Evocatus bespoke Plan testing service
Everything we deliver at Evocatus is bespoke. While we have tools and methods that we fall back on again and again, the first thing we do is to really understand what it is the customer wants to achieve. In the case of testing plans, the game or strategy that we would use will depend on the types of plans that you wish to test.
At Evocatus, our focus is on using engagement through games to help businesses achieve their objectives, using our experience as leaders, decision makers, trainers and exercise designers. We are confident that we have the key skills to deliver truly transformational plan testing activities, but are equally confident that the best events will use the expertise of others, depending on the client’s needs. Our strong links to small businesses offering services as diverse as film-making and organisational psychology in the UK and beyond mean that we have a constant feed of new ideas, innovations and context to make sure we can deliver exactly what our clients are hoping for.
Where we operate
Our base at Hartham Park in Wiltshire is a perfect setting for team building games: Swindon, Bristol and Bath are all within very easy reach. Alternatively, we routinely travel to deliver exercises at an organisation’s own offices or at an entirely different location; this can be particularly effective when a corporate away-day or meeting incorporates team building scenario games. London and other major cities with good public transport networks provide an ideal place to run problem solving games; Swindon and other regional hubs tend to provide more options for getting out into the countryside or for using larger indoor spaces without breaking the budget.
If you are interested in using our Plan Testing Services for your organisation or company then please get in touch to discuss your requirements.