Workshop Description
The Hex Game is a high energy, fast moving, fun activity that is designed to challenge executives to discover new ways of thinking, identify leverage that exists in complex systems and improve ability to lead organizations and teams in the real world.
The simulation was created in 1975 for UNESCO [The United Nations] as a tool for developing organizations to learn to communicate within groups and among different organizational levels. The Wilson Ellis Company has been facilitating the Hex Game since 1999. We have delivered to a wide variety of audiences and purposes that include; senior level executives at Fortune 50 companies using Hex and Systems Thinking for strategic planning sessions to manufacturing front-line employees working to improve communication and team dynamics.
Organizations that have used Hex as a foundation for improved organizational performance and leadership include: Columbia HCA, Johnson and Johnson, and IBM.


The Challenge
We are capable of more. Through interacting with others and learning from our own experiences, we can do much more. A central premise of this simulation is that our ways of thinking and interacting determine our choices and the results we achieve. This simulation includes an appreciation of:
• The dynamic nature of systems
• The interconnections among elements within a system
• The linkage between what we think of as inside and outside the system
• The possibility for both adaptive and true proactive behavior
• Understanding the role you, as an individual, play in the realities that exist
• Our options to achieve the outcomes we really want as a team and individually

Why Hex?
The game is designed as a simulation and therefore the outcome is not predictable. The outcome is dependent on the players’ choices and actions. By definition, simulations are designed to help participants to “learn by doing” where choices and assumptions can be tested and mistakes can be made without “real” consequences to the learner. The value participants realize is in new personal insights gained that can only be truly learned through experience.
Participants typically achieve one or more of the following objectives:
• Implement “Systems Thinking” as an organizational discipline that can lead to sustainable strategic advantage
• Identify personal behaviors, team dynamics and/or mental models that are obstructing performance and/or communication
• Describe ways that” leverage” can help move organizations, teams and individuals forward more quickly
• Identify key leverages that exist in organizations that can lead to better return on investment and/or competitive advantage
• Determine methods for thinking systemically including team process, dialogue and inclusion
• Use a process for team communication that can dramatically improve performance and organizational learning

The Design
Due to the simulation’s original audience, a contemporary developing “nation” is used as the format. The benefit of utilizing this design for the business leader is that it takes them out of their current reality, while still providing opportunities to experience relevant team dynamics in a safe learning environment. This simulated experience is easily extrapolated to many other contexts in which issues of decision-making among multiple parties are of concern and relevance. Key learning objectives, thinking tools and debriefs are tailored to each audience to ensure that your current leadership challenges and priorities are addressed.
The simulation can be tailored to meet your organizational objectives:
• Cross-functional team skills
• Project Management [Leadership and Communication]
• Strategic and Systems Thinking
• Innovation
• Vision
• Leading through change
• General communication skills in complex situations


Features of the Simulation
The Hex is played on a three-level hexagonal board that represents the different hierarchical levels of a country [or organization]: national, regional and local. The simulation is played in cycles [one cycle represents a year]. During each cycle the participants gather around the board and trade the following goods and services:
At the end of each cycle, local surplus and deficiencies of these items are tallied. Deficiencies at the local level are translated into an indicator of national [or organizational] stability. If the national government [or highest level of authority] has been unable to provide the leadership necessary to maintain the level of goods required at the local level, they may be overthrown. Event cards, which are periodically distributed to all participants, keep the level of uncertainty high throughout the game, simulating real life. Material gains, setbacks, and other unexpected changes affecting the population/personnel and the environment challenge participants to overcome the new obstacles and to adjust their playing strategies.
Function and Result
The Hex is fast-paced and absorbing. Participants are given roles that require many decisions. In addition, the roles and events encourage “real world” activities of negotiating, planning and delegating. During the course of the simulation, the decisions made are linked to measurable results and recorded on a chart. It soon becomes clear how well the government [or organization] is functioning.

Between each cycle, a critique session is held to allow participants the opportunity to assess their performance and plan new strategies. During debriefing sessions, participants are encouraged to draw parallels between what occurred in the simulation and organizational behavior in “real life.” (The model below is used to improve team strategy and dialogue)
Function and Result
The Hex is fast-paced and absorbing. Participants are given roles that require many decisions. In addition, the roles and events encourage “real world” activities of negotiating, planning and delegating. During the course of the simulation, the decisions made are linked to measurable results and recorded on a chart. It soon becomes clear how well the government [or organization] is functioning.

Between each cycle, a critique session is held to allow participants the opportunity to assess their performance and plan new strategies. During debriefing sessions, participants are encouraged to draw parallels between what occurred in the simulation and organizational behavior in “real life.” (The model below is used to improve team strategy and dialogue)