Following these steps can help you build the foundation for your exercise. Click on a step to learn more.



Consider Your Needs

The needs assessment is arguably the most important step since it builds the foundation for your entire drought scenario-based exercise. This assessment will help you define the problems, establish the reasons to conduct an exercise, and identify the challenges, functions, or tasks that you will address during the exercise.



Using a systematic approach to assess your needs, such as Foundation Worksheet #1: Consider Your Needs (pdf), ensures that you take a comprehensive view of your current drought preparedness, identify ways to improve it, and design an efficient exercise.


Assess Your Capacity

Planning, developing, delivering, and evaluating a drought scenario-based exercise takes a commitment of time and resources. Your capacity to do these tasks affects the time required for developing an exercise, the complexity of the scenario, its potential outcomes, and the technology and materials used by participants during the exercise. For example, simpler, less complex exercises generally focus on education, collaboration, and consensus building; use paper-based materials during the exercise; and require less time for planning. More complex exercises often focus quantifying risks and trade-offs; incorporate highly customized hydrologic models and decision-support tools; and take longer to plan.



Relationship between capacity and scenario-based exercise characteristics


Foundation Worksheet #2: Assess Your Capacity (pdf) helps you assess your community or organization’s capacity to develop and conduct an exercise and identify areas where you may need to partner with other agencies and organizations, hire consultants, or constrain the scope of your exercise.


Establish a development team

The development of a drought scenario-based exercise is rarely the effort of just one person. Establishment of a development team, including a director or lead planner and a team from key participating agencies, organizations and jurisdictions helps to distribute the workload and results in an exercise that meets the needs of each engaged organization. The development team assists the director in managing the remaining parts of building the exercise platform as well as planning, designing, delivering, and evaluating the exercise. While the size and representation on the team depends on the scope and complexity of the exercise, representation should include individuals with one or more of the key skills needed for the exercise development.


Relationship between capacity and scenario-based exercise characteristics


Use Foundation Worksheet #3: Assemble a Development Team (pdf) to identify partners for completing the remaining tasks in building the exercise foundation and planning, designing, delivering, and assessing the impact of your exercise.


Define the scope

Exercise activities and objectives are set within the scope of your exercise. The exercise scope defines the parameters for the exercise and sets realistic limits. It includes determining the geographic area to be included in the exercise; identifying and prioritizing the drought impacts and planning challenges that will drive discussion during the exercise; selecting the number and type of participants that can address those issues; identifying relevant laws and policies; and considering any other constraints or limitations such as time and resources.



Foundation Worksheet #4: Define the Exercise and Scope (pdf) can help you define the parameters for the exercise and set limits for what can realistically be addressed in one exercise.


Set the goals and objectives

An exercise based on clearly established goals and objectives makes efficient use of your time and resources, leads to useful results, and can be used to generate buy-in among participants and other interested individuals or groups. Objectives ensure that those working on designing the exercise will have a common understanding of what is to be accomplished. Goals help set the overall framework for the exercise while objectives ensure that those designing the exercise have a common understanding of what is to be accomplished. Without objectives, there would not be established expectations or a basis to determine whether those expectations were met during the exercise.



Discussion-based exercises, such as workshops, tabletop exercises, and games focus on facilitated participant discussion. Good objectives should reflect this type of setting and clarify WHO is going to do WHAT under what CONDITIONS and according to what CRITERIA.

Foundation Worksheet #5: Set the Goals and Objectives (pdf) can help you define the parameters for the exercise and set limits for what can realistically be addressed in one exercise.