A Tabletop Exercise (TTX) involves key personnel discussing hypothetical scenarios in an informal setting. This type of exercise can be used to assess plans, policies, and procedures or to assess the systems needed to guide the prevention of, response to, and recovery from a defined incident. TTXs typically are aimed at facilitating understanding of concepts, identifying strengths and shortfalls, and achieving changes in the approach to a particular situation. Participants are encouraged to discuss issues in depth and develop decisions through slow-paced problem solving, rather than the rapid, spontaneous decision making that occurs under actual or simulated emergency conditions. The effectiveness of a TTX is derived from the energetic involvement of participants and their assessment of recommended revisions to current policies, procedures, and plans.
All types of TTXs are usually constructed with the following common features:
- They incorporate group problem solving.
- Senior officials become familiar with critical issues related to their responsibilities.
- They employ the conditions of a specific scenario.
- Personnel contingencies are examined.
- Group message interpretation is examined.
- Participants share information.
- Inter-agency/inter-organization coordination is assessed.
- Limited or specific objectives are achieved.
- They prepare participants for more complex exercises.
Below you will find links to the various phases and their associated steps to assist you with the design, development, and conduct of a seminar. A majority of this information is derived from the US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) February 2007 Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), to include: Volume 1: HSEEP Overview and Exercise Program Management, HSEEP Volume II: Exercise Planning and Conduct, HSEEP Volume III: Exercise Evaluation and Improvement Planning, HSEEP Volume IV: Sample Exercise Documents and Formats, and HSEEP Volume IV: Prevention Exercises.
Phase 1: Pre-Planning
Phase 2: Design and Development
Phase 3: Conduct Exercise
Phase 4: After Action Report and Improvement Planning