Introduction to Systems Thinking: Friday Night at the ER Simulation

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Friday Night at the ER is a simulation-based team learning board game It is followed by an interactive debriefing discussion, which can be adapted to address specific learning needs. The challenge is to make the entire system work through the ups and downs of a frenetic Friday night in the Emergency Room, where individuals’ actions can have a major impact on the quality and financial outcomes of their departments.
The hospital situation is universal and the learning points you obtain during the board game can be applied across different industries and cultures.

3 Key business benefits

  • Effectively manage change in your organization by comprehending the structures that drive change-oriented behavior and motivation;
  • Improve corporate behavior and culture by successfully recognizing and working with mental models;
  • Enhance your decisional process by understanding the importance and value of information and feedback received from different stakeholders.

5 Benefits

  • Realize the effect of your decisions on your colleagues’ activity and their impact on the entire system;
  • Obtain a high level collaboration and improve teamwork across functional areas and other contexts;
  • Make better decisions by using sound data and facts;
  • Improve your team’s performance by getting valuable insights on process reengineering and cross-functional teams management;
  • Enhance team effectiveness by observing the dynamics of team behavior and by acknowledging that various stakeholders represent diverse interests.

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to ensure a high level collaboration across functional areas;
  • Develop your ability to innovate and adapt organizational processes in order to meet customer needs;
  • Learn how to identify different stakeholders-related realities and needs, and work towards fulfilling them;
  • Understand systems thinking concepts in order to redesign the systems and processes in your organization.


 Day 1 - Friday Night at the ER

 Introducing the concept of Friday Night at the ER

  • Concept and purpose of the FNER simulation;
  • Presentation of the business simulation’s basic rules;
  • Teams allocation and simulation arrangements.

 Performing the simulation Friday Night at the ER

  • Outline of the simulation structure;
  • Operational workflows;
  • Activity: Actively participate in the simulation;
  • End of the simulation and announcement of scores obtained.

 Applying the knowledge acquired during the simulation to the organizational environment

  • Activity: Discuss on the experience offered by the simulation;
  • Concepts of Systems Thinking and Performance Management;
  • Activity: Analyze the scoring in correlation with the strategies applied during the simulation.

 Applying the knowledge within the organization context

  • Ways of applying key learning points in the organizational environment;
  • Workshop overview and conclusions.


 Day 2 - Systems Thinking

 The concept of a system

  • Hard systems;
  • Soft systems;
  • Evolutionary systems

 The key concepts of Systems Thinking

  • Interdependence;
  • Holism;
  • Hierarchy;
  • Differentiation

 The levels of System Thinking Maturity 

  • System Thinking guidelines;
  • System Thinking survey;
  • Decisions based on a System Thinking.
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