Lesson 4 - Scenario Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guides you through the process of developing a scenario as well as the MSEL and discusses inject flow and responses.

Introduction to Scenario Development

In an earlier module we addressed the importance of determining the client’s objective before selecting a scenario for a war game or exercise. The intent of that module was not to downplay the importance of a scenario, but to highlight the importance of first focusing on exercise objectives.

Audio Script

A scenario provides at least two important services. First, it provides a plausible starting point or setting for the exercise participants to examine particular challenges as well as responses to a crisis (e.g., hurricane, flooding, earthquake, explosion, cyber attack, workplace violence, contaminated products, etc.). One of he chief challenges in scenario development is to find out the real needs of the organization’s key decision-makers, when these decision-makers may not themselves know what they need to know, or may not know how to describe the information that they really want. We often ask the client what concerns keep them up at night. Those nightmares are a good place to start the scenario.

Scenario Development

The organization is then “stressed” by the scenario as the exercise evolves. Usually, particular groups of facts become more clearly important as the exercise unfolds. These insights enable the various functional support departments/stakeholders within the organizations to refine and repackage real information more precisely to better serve the decision-makers’ real-life needs. Frequently the exercise’s simulated time will run tens of times faster than real life, so decision-makers experience several days/months of policy decisions, and their simulated effects, in a few hours.

The exercise time will run 10 times faster in real life.

The second service the scenario provides is that it is a good source for your exercise injects that will be detailed in the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). We write the scenario (really a story line) out completely with as much detail as possible and then select injects based on the story line as we put the game design and mechanics together.

A final note on scenario development:

It is not uncommon for exercise participants to fight the scenario. We emphasize that the scenario we are using is not predictive, but it is plausible. And if it is plausible, isn’t it worth examining the challenges it presents to their organization? The client knows more about its organization than most exercise developers, so it is important to have their input and constant review during the scenario development phase.

MSEL Development

The exercise facilitator and control team will control the exercise through the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL), which is the primary document used to manage the exercise, to know when events are expected to occur, and to know when to insert event implementer messages into the exercise. In other words, the MSEL provides the framework for monitoring and managing the flow of exercise activities. The MSEL is restricted for use by facilitator, controllers, simulators, and evaluators.

MSEL Messages

A MSEL lists all exercise messages and key events in a table that specifies the time the message is expected to be delivered, who delivers it to whom, a message number, and a short description of the message. Some MSELs also contain the anticipated responder actions and associated exercise objectives to assist the controllers and evaluators in performing their functions. The MSEL identifies the timing and summary content of all key events, messages or injects, contingency messages, and can include anticipated responder actions for the duration of the exercise.

Exercise Flow

A MSEL lists all exercise messages and key events in a table that specifies the time the message is expected to be delivered, who delivers it to whom, a message number, and a short description of the message. Some MSELs also contain the anticipated responder actions and associated exercise objectives to assist the controllers and evaluators in performing their functions. The MSEL identifies the timing and summary content of all key events, messages or injects, contingency messages, and can include anticipated responder actions for the duration of the exercise.

Inject Responses

Injects are presented to the participants in varying formats [e.g., simulated telephone calls, media reports (including videos), scripted text handouts, etc.) during the course of the crisis simulation exercise. Each inject included in the MSEL is intended to provide the participants in the exercise with information and should result in some form of action. Ask the question as you develop the inject, “What are the expected action(s) that might occur when the participants receive this inject?” If you cannot answer the question, then you should reexamine and adjust the content within that inject.

Steering the Exercise

Injects within the MSEL should not be considered as cast in stone and cannot be modified. At some point during the exercise the facilitator/control team may determine that the participants are on a path that will prevent them from achieving the stated objective(s) of the exercise. In that case, new or modified injects can be inserted to steer the participants back toward the objectives of the exercise.


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