Just after 9/11, Frank helped a community organization in the DC area develop a disaster preparedness plan.  The group coordinated turning neighborhood churches into shelters and coordination centers in the event of an attack or natural disaster. The leadership was completely volunteer – they all had regular day jobs in the District. After the writing was all done, Frank sat all of the leadership down to talk their way through the heavily researched plan using a scenario that Frank had made up- an earthquake hitting DC at 9:38am on a Tuesday morning – and quickly discovered that the plan was completely useless.

Why? The plan looked beautiful on paper. It accounted for every major task or contingency that leadership had to do at each church to successfully implement critical programs.  It just forgot about the fact that leadership had to get from their jobs in the district to the churches before any of that could happen. It forgot about the fact that the head of the organization had a special needs son who went to school at a special center 20 miles away, and that he couldn’t be the head of the organization until he knew his son was safe and picked him up. It forgot about bad traffic, and broken bridges. It forgot about a lot of stuff.

But sitting around a table, Frank and the team discovered each issue that the plan had overlooked and came up with solutions each one.

That’s the beauty of a table top exercise. It takes plans out of the theoretical fog and makes them stronger. They force everyone to visual and discuss what it takes to make a plan work – which is the only way any plan really can work. Most plans aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on unless they’re examined and discussed by the whole team. Learn more below.

Click play to listen to Episode 8 of Oh CRAP! The Crisis Management Podcast – Free Crisis Management Tools: Table Top Exercises.


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A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.