Groups & Roles

Examples of groups and roles

Political Simulation

  • Group: Executive Branch
  • Roles in this group: President, Vice President


Business Simulation

  • Group: Google
  • Roles in this group: CEO, CFO, CIO

Questions & Answers

How should I define my groups?

  • Start by thinking about work flow. Putting certain roles into groups may make sense when those people will work together a lot, share similar resources, and have similar calendar events.
  • Clearly define roles so that participants have both explicit activities assigned to them and unstructured time to work with other groups.
What roles should I include?

  • Decision making bodies:
      • Simulations with one decision-making body provide opportunities to examine that body’s processes in depth.
      • Simulations that incorporate decision-making across multiple bodies allows participants to examine interactions between decision-making entities.
  • Stakeholders. Group dynamics are richer and more complex as the number of stakeholder interests increase. Simulations tend to work best when there are numerous stakeholder interests and multiple plausible coalition combinations.
  • Experts. Expert roles can be helpful, especially if participants have limited substantive knowledge, limited time for preparation, or if the problem has a high degree of technical, financial, or procedural complexity.
  • Media. Including media roles is helpful in large, multi-period simulations in which other participants may struggle to keep track of the activities and decisions of other groups.
How should I design and assign roles?

  • Use roles that stretch people. The most profound insights often come from playing roles whose interests diverge significantly from participants’ own or roles for which they have no prior experience.
  • Use roles based on real people if possible. Simulations that assign participants to real people in decision-making roles and encourage participants to research and contact those real-world decision-makers provide a unique opportunity for participants to connect with actual decision makers.
  • Use roles that demonstrate power dynamics, if that’s an important learning objective for you.

Once a simulation starts, facilitators and participants can also create groups later and update public positions, so don’t worry too much about getting it 100% ahead of time.

Use the questions below to think through the details of your simulation. 

  • How might you organize participants into groups? Think about who might work together, attend the same activities, and share similar resources. (For example: the media, the city council, private interest advocates, experts)
  • Who are the main stakeholders in the decision or simulation? (More is better.)
  • Expert roles are often helpful in a simulation. What expert roles might you include?
  • How many decision making bodies will you create? Who are they?