Using Tabletop Exercises to Improve Coming-back Plans | KITH

  • Use tabletop exercises to explore specific what-if scenarios around your coming-back plan.
  • What you’re really looking for is, “Uh oh, that’s something we hadn’t thought about. How’s this going to change our planning?”
  • They’re also a tool for testing transformational ideas, including policies that would not have been considered before the pandemic.

Organizations and our clients with customer-facing operations — retail, hospitality, higher education — are bringing people back to work to restore storefront service and preparing for a larger reopening. While front line workers have largely returned to the workplace, many “back office” teams remain remote.

What is it like to bring our workers back to the office? When and how do we come back? Do we come back? Teams are hard at work thinking, meeting, talking, Zooming and trying to work through the issues of coming back. Juggling HR policies, operational needs and executive expectations, while managing internal communications, is a challenge to say the least.

Exploring What-if Scenarios

First of all, what’s your objective? What do you want to do? Do you want to test plans currently in place, or do you want to explore new ideas and new concepts that you’re just starting to think about?

Once you have a clear objective, select one or more specific scenarios. For example, let’s say opening up your offices completely is your scenario. You can explore opening for certain workers on certain days, some sort of staggered, time-based approach, or a department-by-department approach. Whatever you’re thinking about doing, and whatever the alternatives are, let’s create one of those as the possible scenario.

Set the Room and the Scene

Then you need to determine who needs to be present at your tabletop exercise. We think it’s really important that the participants come from the various disciplines. Depending on the scenario, you may have executive management, internal communications, operations, HR and legal present. Consider adding other people who know your organizational culture well and understand the expectations of your stakeholders, primarily your employees. They will know the implications of the scenario and can ask the right questions.

What you’re really looking for is, “Uh oh, that’s something we hadn’t thought about. How’s this going to change our planning?” Leave plenty of time for discussion and opportunity for your team to evaluate, have a conversation about what they’ve learned, what they missed. Identify the gaps in your current plans, and identify the gaps in your thinking.

Consider the Risks

As you’re considering these what-if scenarios, I think you need to think about them in our SPE Risk Framework as strategic risks . Bringing teams back is a risk, and it is something that we intended to do to meet a greater business objective. We knew that [insert problem here] could happen, and here’s how planned for it and we’re managing it. Tabletop exercises can also help identify preventable risks — things that simply shouldn’t happen — and then external risks , which are threats coming from completely outside the workplace.

Someone coming into your office with a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 is something that’s strategic. That’s possible. How are you going to manage it? How are you going to respond to that? Think through what are the risks that you’re undertaking, factor those into the scenarios that you want to test and see how that changes or identifies the gaps that you’re working on.

Tabletop exercises are also an opportunity for honest, candid feedback from the very teams you’re considering bringing back to the office. Some of the things on their minds may be things your organization hasn’t thought about, and that’s truly one of the best things that arise from these tabletop exercises. They’re a way to identify problems before they happen, and those are always the best problems to have.

Originally published at https://kith.co on July 23, 2020.

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CEO / Founder of @Kith.co - Crisis Communications and Reputation Management Firm, Proud father, son, brother and friend. Native Floridian, proud 'Nole.

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Bill Coletti

Bill Coletti

CEO / Founder of @Kith.co - Crisis Communications and Reputation Management Firm, Proud father, son, brother and friend. Native Floridian, proud 'Nole.

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