Tabletop exercises

Building muscle memory to power your response

It’s impossible to pinpoint when the next crisis might hit or what form it’ll take. And if your organisation hasn’t already experienced a disruption of that nature, how do you respond?

As part of a thorough approach to crisis planning and preparedness, tabletop testing provide opportunities to practice responding to realistic threat scenarios. These exercises, along with workshops and simulations, are part of the continuous improvement cycle that should be the foundation of your crisis planning.

In timed exercises, team members practice responding to a variety of threat scenarios in a setting that mimics the constraints of a real crisis. 

Identifying gaps, strengths and potential outcomes and thinking through how to emerge stronger in each scenario helps you create a tactical and strategic roadmap to drive decision-making in a crisis situation.

And importantly, you’ll begin to build critical muscle memory, as a team, that’ll help you respond when a real crisis hits.

62% of organisations executed a crisis response plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021

‘Peace time’ preparation to help you emerge stronger

Besides an actual crisis, preparation that involves practicing potential scenarios is a next-best alternative in planning for an unanticipated disruption. Exercises come in many shapes and sizes, from a workshop/facilitated discussion to an immersive simulation, with customised variations depending on your needs and degree of investment.

With tabletop exercises as part of your preparedness plan, you’ll practice potential scenarios and think through how to emerge stronger from each. 

The result: a tactical and strategic roadmap to drive decision-making. 

Tabletop exercises will help clarify critical elements of your strategy for crisis planning and preparedness, including:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Information collection
  • Prioritisation
  • Brand implications

Putting your plan to the test

The element of the unknown adds to the stress of a crisis situation. And the uncertainty clouds your ability to react with clarity and confidence.

Tabletop exercises can help reduce that anxiety and increase individual and collective team confidence in your response capabilities. When an unplanned event strikes, your team will feel better prepared to tackle a crisis — because you’ve done it before.

Develop realistic scenarios. Test your response. Evaluate outcomes, strengths, and challenges. Refine your plan. Test again.

Real-time learning to improve your response

We follow a four-phased approach to tabletop exercises, tailored to your business needs and in collaboration with your team and stakeholders:

  • Determine exercise objectives and scenarios
  • Design scenarios for team
  • Execute tabletop testing
  • Deliver exercise report


Hands-on experience to guide you

Our workshops, tabletop exercises and real-time simulations draw upon our team’s first-hand experience guiding companies through some of the toughest disruptions of the past several decades.

We develop realistic — and challenging — scenarios for your team and guide you through practicing your response in a safe environment.

You’ll have the benefit of our:

  • Experience as a global crisis leader
  • Understanding of leading industry practices
  • Knowledge and skill developed preparing for and responding to major crises

Required fields are marked with an asterisk(*)

By submitting your email address, you acknowledge that you have read the Privacy Statement and that you consent to our processing data in accordance with the Privacy Statement (including international transfers). If you change your mind at any time about wishing to receive the information from us, you can send us an email message using the Contact Us page.

Contact us

Dave Stainback

Dave Stainback

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 678 419 1355

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 422701