Crisis Simulation: Blink Mining

Professor Mary Waller Ph.D, Schulich School of Business, York University

Realistic, time-pressured simulation puts crisis management teams through their paces

Crisis management training is vital for any corporation so that its staff are best able to respond should any unfortunate incidents befall it.

crisis simulationDeveloped by Professor Mary Waller Ph.D. at the Schulich Business School, the Blink Mining crisis simulation places participants into the role of the company’s crisis management team.

Teams are registered manually or via a password-protected team sign-up form. Whereas some manual simulations demand as many people running the simulation as there are those in the executive team taking part, Conducttr has allowed Professor Waller to scale her work and has single-handedly run as many as 35 people at the same time in seven teams of five.

Over a 2 hour period, the multiple teams of five must respond to an unfolding crisis that starts with a bomb discovered inside a mine. Each member of the team has a specific role and receives information pertinent to that role via email or SMS. This creates information asymmetry and requires the team to communicate with each other in order to respond optimally.

The teams must manage a successful resolution to the crisis by making crucial decisions at around every 10 minutes or so.Failure to respond in the allotted time results in participants being informed that a default decision has been made for them.

A key benefit of using Conducttr is that the simulation feels extremely realistic because participants face each other and not watch a screen-based simulation. Information is arriving at a fast pace and places the team in a pressured situation.

Indeed, Conducttr simulates seven characters representing external stakeholders such as institutional investors, the press, the Government’s Minister of Safety, and angry workers contact participants via email, SMS, and Twitter. It also simulates a stock price feed reflecting the company’s changing share price as the crisis unfolds – adding additional realism and pressure.

Improving team performance

Professor Waller drew from empirical research and her experience in organizational behavior and team dynamics to design the intensive scenario, create content, administer the simulation and, post-simulation, analyze team performance and conduct in-depth debriefing sessions with participants.

As all outputs and interactions with Conducttr are logged to a time-stamped report, Professor Waller can see all participant choices and responses times by individual and by team.

Unlike paper-based, manual simulations in which the simulation leader might become sympathetic to team struggles or in which the timing of information publication might vary for other reasons, Conducttr always delivers information at exactly the same time. This hence improves the accuracy of comparisons between teams and between play-throughs.

Continued use

Blink Mining continues to be used by Professor Waller in her research and is available for use by other companies via her consulting services. She is currently using Conducttr to develop additional crisis management scenarios.

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