So you have been asked to plan a crisis exercise for your organization. . . .


Before you panic, here are some tips to help.  


  • Have clear and aligned objectives for conducting the exercise.



  • Ask leaders “what keeps you up at night”, to select something that is on their radar.
  • Find out what some of their “Lessons to be Learned” from past events were and incorporate testing to see if they have been remediated.
  • Understand the functional roles of the attendees, and create the storyline so that it engages a variety of functions.
  • Identify and leverage “trusted agents” to help with the detail.
  • Pictures, video, “fake news”, and actual names help to improve “realism”.



  • Select a comfortable and flexible space.   The team will likely want to organize into sub teams, so have 1-2 extra rooms where they can convene.
  • Have 1-2 projectors available so teams can leverage them during the exercise.
  • Test the audio and video the day before.
  • Flip charts, white boards, markers.
  • Feed and water the participants!



  • Reserve their calendars as far in advance as possible.
  • Send a preread to make sure they know the objectives.   Include the corporate crisis management policy.
  • Identify and prepare a leader to kick off the exercise.   (Draft talking points for them to help drive your message.)



  • Check audio and video.
  • Greet the participants as they arrive.
  • Review the objectives, logistics, agenda.
  • Run the exercise, observing and documenting gaps, leadership, adherence to process.
  • End with roundtable of observations and next steps.
  • Identify how you will improve the next exercise you lead.



  • Create an After Action Report (AAR) summarizing the event including the objectives, scenario, and observations.
  • Review the AAR with leadership to ensure thorough understanding and agreement to the observations.
  • Develop a remediation plan for identified gaps.