Over the summer Skarbek designed and conducted a major exercise in the US for a global client in the legal sector. The faculty included two three-star Generals – from UK Special Forces and US Marine Corps – discussing coalitions, high performances teamwork and delivery.
THE ART OF EXECUTION
Client: Global Law Firm
Event: 1 day Global Partner Event, held in US
Target Group: 30-50 senior partners, from about 10 global offices
Objective: To build capability and strategy execution.
EXERCISE ‘AMPHITRITE WRATH’
To engage and challenge a large group of demanding participants.
To give them hand-on insights into strategy execution under pressure
To increase their confidence in planning and delivery, and show them useful tools (active rather than passive learning).
To take them out of their comfort zones and days jobs – the exercise should be realistic, different and difficult, but also fun.
A hurricane will strike the eastern seaboard of a Central American nation in eight hours. Alongside the general evacuation, there are a set of particular extra problems – ranging from a lack of local resources, a stranded cruise ship full of US pensioners, an orphanage in the path of the storm, a high-security prison full of dangerous drugs criminals, unhelpful headlines on CNN, to a UN Security Council debate about the situation.
There are many stakeholders, with incomplete information and inconsistent objectives. Within three hours there has to be a plan. A plan based on real-life information, acceptable to all stakeholders, and ready to be presented and challenged in a CNN interview. The clock is ticking.
|The Central Government. Stranded far from the action. No resources to send and all the politics to manage. But they will be on the spot on CNN to show that there is a plan.||The Local Government. The best information. Local soldiers, police and other resources to deploy. But cannot see the bigger picture.|
|The UN. A UN Resolution in the works, and specialists in disaster relief. But far from the region, bureaucratic, and have no transport because of a strike.||The US military. Have significant resources in the region. But should they put themselves at risk to help? Would they be welcome? And who to send where and when?|
Everyone in the exercise belongs to one stakeholder group, and receives a tailored briefing on their group.
But stakeholder groups will not deliver the plan – a team will.
A team is composed of representatives of all stakeholder groups. Teams will need to share information, find ways of working, and decide on how to frame and communicate the plan.
If there are more than one team, the teams can compete.
But there is some help. Each team has a comprehensive set of materials (maps, facts and documents). They also have an outline project plan – ways to structure and capture everything from timelines, interdependencies, decisions to outcomes. And finally, they have the Skarbek faculty to guide, nudge, advise and occasionally intervene.
At the end of the exercise there is a comprehensive debrief by the Skarbek faculty on how the teams fared, noting successes, failures, behaviours and lessons which could be learnt. They also present a Skarbek solution – where the details of the plan are less important than the process by which it is drawn up.
Average Feedback Score: 9.7/10. Comments:
‘Exhausting. I thought my job as a corporate lawyer was difficult, but this was something else!’
‘The exercise was a lot of fun; it showed me exactly what we’re getting wrong and how we could work better together’
‘I learnt a lot – it was an unfamiliar scenario, but I could see how it applied to challenges in my job. I could structure my projects this way’
‘It took the lessons from earlier in the day and applied them’
‘Not every day you get to save the world’.