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Khushboo Singh

ZS Associates

Training Consultant

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Thinking out aloud…


...about an idea for an activity that I want to implement for a leadership training for senior executives.  Would love to hear any thoughts..

I want my program to have one integrated activity on the lines of a war game/World War II scenario where I plug in aspects of strategy, leadership styles, recruitment (?), teamwork, time management (?), etc. into it.  Basically one big activity running throughout the session.

Can someone help me with a broad framework? I'm not very good at history so some contextual information will also help. I know that I'll get questions on what exactly I intend to cover, and overall performance objectives of the session, etc. and I'm still writing those out, but I'm kinda really excited about this one idea and so I've put it here to get some reactions from the group. 

5 Responses

  1. Arctic Expedition

    Hi Khush

    I have an exercise called Arctic Expedition that does pretty much the same thing as your war games but you don't need a history degree to facilitate it.

    PM me your email address and you can have it.


  2. Some ideas…

    Before I share some ideas, I think what you propose is very ambitious and you need to think very carefully about what your learning objectives are so that it doesn't feel pointless and the activity has some clear learning points that are shared and built into an action plan.

    However, I would recommend basing it on two ficticious armies (fighting for a ficticious cause) rather than anything real as there will be many sesnitivities around real conflicts.

    Assuming there are enough people for two armies you could set up a series of challenges where the two factions go up against each other.  The idea is that each group elects a leader/commanderbased on a specifc brief (decision making). It will be then that leader's decision to select someone from the team to take on each challenge.  There should be enough challenges for each team member and each member should only do one challenge.  When you describe the challenges be very braod and non-specific about what the challenge is andthe skills/ talents needed. You could call it a mission brief.

    So, for example, one of the challenges could be described as an engineering challenge requiring good motor skills, high levels of creativty and accuracy.  When the leader selects their challengers they are sat down and given a model kit to complete against the clock (it could be a lego tank or plane or something like that). There's time managment and planning in that task.

    I'm sure you can think of enough challenges and make them 'vague' so that's where the recrutiment comes in.  There could be a miltary code breaking challenge with puzzles etc, you could have a nautical challenge (a game of battleships), an airbourne challenge (the best paper aeroplane), etc, etc.

    The winner of each challenge gets promoted to the officer's mess – if you can get a room or area with some nice snacks, drinks etc and put the winners there.  The losers get sent to miltary prison; create an area with just water and dry snacks that's drab and dull.  When each area gets  more people in; give them other thing sto do like discuss lessons learned, what went well, what could they have done differently.  How did it feel to win, how did it feel to lose etc and scribe their answers.

    Part-way through, you could have a negotiation challenge where the idea is to negotoate a peace treaty but secretly give each army a list of requitrements that may or may not be conducive to a settlement.  See if they will naturally compromise or do they slavishly stick to their demands.

    You could give losing teams a challenge to bring back a colleague by breaking them out of military prison by having another challenge to compete.

    There are lots of ways to go with this but I would repeat my concern over basing it on a real conflict as it may have certain sensitivities for people.  Hope that helps.

  3. concern~ Motivation and war.

    There is one big concern about linking business/peacetime leadership activities to a wartime scenario: in a war there is a common enemy and a common purpose that the majority of the population will hold as a motivation. This is not the case in a time of peace.  Whilst planning, administration and similar more everyday tasks can therefore benefit from a wartime analogy the concept of 'leadership' is more problematical.

    By setting your leadership training in a war situation you may allow your learners to miss some very fundamental elements of their role; vision of the future and motivation of the people.

    Sorry if that doesn't seem to help.

    Rus Slater

  4. Awesome

    This is great, thank you.  Steve and Clive – thanks for sharing your ideas, and Rus, thanks for voicing out your concern.  I'm going to go back and think some more. 


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Khushboo Singh

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