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The Simmetrics exercise is about the rapidly growing cost of cumulative error.

The activity represents those situations in which a simple mistake, made early in a process, can become a very costly and wasteful problem if it is not picked up and dealt with at an early stage, and in its original form was developed to consider error reduction within a UK financial services customer contact centre. Since then the activity has been further developed to consider other ‘process improvement’ areas including time management and sustainable business development.

Throughout the exercise, decisions are being made under time-pressure. It is not possible to evaluate every option, so a set of ‘working principles’ is of value. Can the team establish the operating guidelines so that they demonstrate improved performance at every stage in the exercise? Simmetrics asks teams to build a strategy which is flexible and responsive – they need to keep as many options open as possible, as the demands of each round are not wholly predictable. They also need to be sure that every individual understands the strategy so that personal decisions are well judged.

Simmetrics demonstrates convincingly how thinking ahead and planning for a range of possible scenarios enables the participants to maintain control of a situation which could otherwise control them.


Learning objectives:

  • How pressures and time deadlines can drive less-than-effective behaviours
  • How small mistakes introduced early into a process can build and become much more costly later on
  • How flexible and responsive strategies can be useful when the future is unpredictable
  • How individual actions can affect wider team outcomes and therefore necessitate that some good group working practices are put in place up-front


Activity Contents:


Facilitator manual, 4x Gameboards, Carry case, 20x Magnetic pieces & matching cards

The exercise is played over a series of rounds, each round beginning with the disadvantage of having ‘penalty points’ transferred from earlier rounds. These penalty points make the achievement of targets increasingly difficult as the exercise progresses, unless the problem is dealt with quickly and effectively. In order to complete the exercise successfully, teams must work towards a shared strategy for minimising waste and error. This is dependent upon collaboration, a degree of ‘big picture’ thinking and a consideration of the impact of one decision, or individual choice, upon the wider team.

The activity enables participants to demonstrate a range of team-working skills including

• The ability to think about the ‘big picture’ and consider the effect of their contribution on other team members

• Time management skills: reacting quickly and accurately and distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important

• Creating robust team-working strategies that can be used when dealing with an uncertain future

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