The Long Game Project want to assist more EA organisations in performing tabletop exercises.
EA work often involves making decisions about important topics but under high uncertainty and complexity. This presents challenges in decision-making that can be improved through practice.
We believe more EA decision-makers should enhance their decision-making abilities through regular practice. This will help in building teams that are prepared for the future and can proactively address upcoming challenges.
Tabletop exercises can effectively explore questions of uncertainty, risk, hypotheses, or problems from a fresh perspective. If your organisation has a particular issue to explore, consider using tabletop exercises as a tool.
If you don't have a specific scenario in mind, don't worry. We can handle the design process! We can create exercises for any topic or question of uncertainty.
To start asking yourself the right questions, start here.
What are Tabletop Exercises (TTXs)?
TTXs are structured activities that simulate real-life scenarios, enabling organisations to practice responding to crises and complex decision-making situations. They serve as a low-risk environment to explore institutional resilience, team coordination, and decision-making effectiveness. Participants can make mistakes, learn from them, and iterate their strategies without real-world consequences.
Why Should EA Organisations Care?
EA organisations often deal with complex issues, making decision-making processes uncertain. Errors can have significant consequences in terms of resource allocation and the potential impact on lives, and missed opportunities for positive action.
Why EA organisations should engage more in tabletop exercises:
- Improve Decision-Making: Tabletop exercises allow teams to confront simulated crises, helping them refine their decision-making skills, enhance strategic thinking, and better understand the ripple effects of their actions.
- Boost Team Collaboration: These exercises promote collaborative problem-solving, fostering more substantial team unity, improving communication, and clarifying roles and responsibilities.
- Build Resilience: Regularly tackling various challenges through these exercises can make your organisation more adaptable and resilient, preparing it to handle real-life crises when they arise effectively.
- Encourage Long-Term Planning: Tabletop exercises (TTXs) stimulate forward-thinking by simulating potential scenarios. This can inform strategic planning and risk management and tighten feedback loops for organisational plans.
- Explore New Perspectives: TTXs provide a platform to approach a question or problem set from different angles. They offer an immersive environment for exploring agency and decision-making.
Why don’t EA orgs do more of this?
Despite the clear benefits of tabletop exercises, many organisations have yet to adopt them. This reluctance often arises from several common obstacles:
- Perceived Complexity: Some organisations might view the setup and execution of tabletop exercises as overly complex or time-consuming. While designing realistic scenarios and facilitating productive discussions require careful planning and expertise, these challenges can be surmounted with the proper guidance and support around the scope.
- Limited Resources: Organisations may lack the necessary resources - time, funds, or personnel - to invest in tabletop exercises. However, viewing these exercises as an investment in risk mitigation and crisis readiness is crucial, which can yield significant long-term savings. Tabletop exercises can be scaled to any budget. Time and personnel are usually limited by aligning calendar blocks and prioritising an exercise as necessary.
- Organisational Culture: To embrace tabletop exercises, an organisation's culture must prioritize proactive risk management. Shifting this mindset requires leadership endorsement and clear communication about the exercises' value.
- Fear of Exposure: Some organisations might worry that tabletop exercises will reveal weaknesses or vulnerabilities. However, it's far more advantageous to identify and address these issues in a controlled, simulated environment than during an actual crisis.
- Lack of Awareness: Certain organisations might not fully understand the benefits of tabletop exercises or may underestimate their value. Increasing awareness about these exercises and their potential uses is a vital initial step.
We exist to make tabletop exercises an accessible and valuable tool for all organisations within the EA community. We aim to help you navigate these challenges, ensuring the implementation of tabletop exercises is as straightforward and beneficial as possible.
How Can We Help?
We aim to shoulder the design, facilitation, and feedback responsibilities, allowing you to focus on participating and enhancing your effectiveness. We can also provide tools to run your own game. Check out the repository of run-it-yourself scenario guides or make one yourself with the generator tool.
We specialise in designing and facilitating Tabletop Exercises (TTXs) customised to your organisation's needs. The topics for these scenarios can be flexible. All you need to do is communicate your concerns, problems, or questions, and we will define the aim of the exercise. A good starting point is our scoping guide.
TTXs don't require an all-day commitment. A session of 2-3 hours is a good starting point. We encourage organisations to engage in lean but regular exercises to tighten feedback loops and avoid a one-and-done mindset.
The Long Game Project can:
- Design Scenarios: We develop custom scenarios considering your organisation's specific concerns, objectives, and operational context.
- Facilitate TTX: Our experienced facilitators guide your team through the exercise, ensuring everyone stays focused and capitalises on crucial learning opportunities.
- Assist Post-Exercise Analysis: We provide a thorough debriefing and report, highlighting areas of strength and identifying opportunities for improvement.
Whether you're new to tabletop exercises or looking to deepen your organisation's crisis management capabilities, we're here to help. By integrating tabletop exercises into your organisational culture, you can equip your team with the skills and experience necessary to navigate a complex world.
Please contact us to learn more about how tabletop exercises can benefit your organisation. We're eager to help you strengthen your decision-making processes, enhance resilience, and increase your positive impact on the world.