Crisis simulation scenarios provide at least two important services –
First, it provides a plausible starting point or setting for the exercise participants to examine particular challenges as well as responses to a crisis (e.g., hurricane, flooding, earthquake, explosion, cyber attack, workplace violence, contaminated products, etc.). One of he chief challenges in scenario development is to find out the real needs of the organization’s key decision-makers, when these decision-makers may not themselves know what they need to know, or may not know how to describe the information that they really want. In this part of the planning stage, we often ask: What keeps you up at night? Those nightmares are often a good place to start looking at the different scenarios that may impact the business.
The organization should be “stressed” by the scenario as the exercise evolves. Usually, particular groups of facts become more clearly important as the exercise unfolds. These insights enable the various functional support departments (stakeholders) within the organizations to refine and repackage real information more precisely to better serve the decision-makers’ real-life needs. Frequently the exercise’s simulated time will run tens of times faster than real life, so decision-makers experience several days/months of policy decisions, and their simulated effects, in a few hours.
The second service the scenario provides is that it is a good source for your exercise injects that will be detailed in a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). Best practice is to write the scenario (really a story line) out completely with as much detail as possible and then select injects based on the story line.
The exercise facilitator and control team will control the exercise through the MSEL (Master Scenario Events List), which is the primary document used to manage the exercise, to know when events are expected to occur, and to know when to insert event implementer messages into the exercise. In other words, the MSEL provides the framework for monitoring and managing the flow of exercise activities. The MSEL is usually restricted for use by the facilitators, controllers, simulators, and evaluators.