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Toxic Waste Simulation™

Our flagship program, Toxic Waste Management (TWM), combines the best of project management, multitasking, and working remotely, as teams work together to provide the best solution for a fictitious client. Participants receive information from real-time emails, generated live by one of our facilitators, as they work through this high-tech, hands-on task.

Program Overview

This simulation combines together a fun, experiential exercise with activities and parameters that mimic many of the conditions that employees have to navigate on a daily basis. The group is split into teams of 4-6 people. In this three-hour activity, each sub-group is a consulting firm that is brought into a fictional company, called Toxic Waste Management (TWM). They are faced with the task of helping the “client,” TWM, with working through the challenging predicament of removing toxic waste from a site. All of the necessary information comes from six employees from TWM, who are facing their own internal politics. Groups receive the bios of the six employees, and are able to e-mail any of the six employees at any time in order to receive real-time information and feedback. At the end of the activity, teams need to create and implement an action plan in order to salvage the toxic waste. Only by obtaining the information that’s necessary and completing the task within budget will groups be successful.

Activity Flow

Each sub-group is presented with the scenario, and the bios of the six individuals with the company. They also receive initial e-mails from each of the employees and have 20 minutes of pre-planning to figure out how to allocate tasks during the activity, as well what questions and e-mails they may want to ask. Groups are also given a photo of what the toxic waste scene looks like. Depending on what questions they ask, groups can gather additional photos of the scene, ideas on how they should approach the problem, and additional tasks in order to increase their budget. The last 30 minutes are spent trying their solution on a prototype.

Team Size

This activity can be done with groups between 4-400 people, and higher. Each sub-group should be between 4-6 people. It can be conducted at one site, or remotely between different sites.

Time Frame

Three hours is an ideal amount of time for the activity. The activity can be designed to fill a three and a half hour window, and can be consolidated to fit into a two and a half hour window.

Room Setup

Each group needs a table, and enough chairs for each group member. Additionally, an open space of 20 feet by 20 feet (6 meters by 6 meters) for every four groups is required. Each group also needs an individual with a smart phone, or computer that has access to e-mail. This device will be used to email the fictional clients during the activity, and will be shared amongst the group. As such, larger-screen devices are better than smaller smartphones.


At the end of the time frame, the group is given a debrief packet that guides individuals in reflecting on the activity while transferring critical learnings back to their workplace.

Some of the common themes and talking points for this activity include:

Project Management – managing multiple tasks at once and plotting out a course of action
E-mail communication and the importance of communicating effectively
Problem solving in a finite amount of time, and managing deadlines
Asking the right questions and adapting to verbal and written cues
Adaptability and being able to change plans



I’ve done a lot of these, and this activity really highlighted many issues common to our work environment.  In today’s workplace, challenges abound when managing a distributed workforce, emailing with clients, and dealing with constantly changing timelines, and each of these issues came to life in this activity. Every member of our team was fully engaged the entire time, and recognized the workplace parallels. The facilitators were great at helping us ‘fail forward,’ creating a fun environment for us to work out some of these issues.    Well done!

Rohan S., Project Manager, Sunnyvale, CA