The almighty adjudication team
Many types of professional Wargame require an adjunction team. Because let's face it, even when the rules are crystal clear, someone is going to object to something. Especially the specialists. Our most recurring theme is of submariners protesting loudly 'No, that submarine would never be sunk' It's a bit like the bumbling dad in the that old TV ad for the game who wails, 'But you sunk my Battleship!'
This kind of thing happens a lot. The Army Colonel who sucks in a deep breath, rubs his chin knowingly and denies that half his force could not have been wiped out in his pell-mell frontal assault with no air cover of preparatory fires. So, in order to prevent a heated and lengthy discussion which derails the game and kills the flow and the energy, this is when the facilitator calls in the Adjudication team. They are like the fourth official in Rugby, the TMO. The facilitator can simply say "I'm taking this one upstairs"
Let's take a look at the makeup and role of a good adjudication team (and we are writing this blog because we've seen some shockers). Enjoy.
#1 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): We've banged on about this before and there is no harm in repetition here, the Adjudication team needs to be comprised of the right experts to cover the subject matter of the Wargame or exercise. A land centric exercise can do without two nuclear submariners on the team.
#2 Unbiased Outsiders: Again, staff your team with unbiased outsiders. A good adjudication team will give expert input that supports outcomes and keeps the game flowing.
#3 Size doesn't matter: the team can be two and upwards, depending on your requirements. Just exercise caution though, a larger adjudication team can turn itself into a debating chamber. We've got by in most big wargames at Corps and Staff College level with a team of three. Maritime, Land and Air. In a game reflecting the Comprehensive Approach, you'll include a Humanitarian, Political and Green SME.
#4 Supports the facilitator: In doing the above, the team supports the facilitator with expert input and supports the game narrative. The team assists the facilitator in staring down the senior officers (or management) who 'pop in' to see how it's all going and invariably pull rank to get involved and share their genius with the Training Audience. There is an old saying, "Never let a general near a wargame". It is a golden rule, but should this be unavoidable, then a good Adjudication team behind a strong facilitator will (very respectfully) keep the Generals at bay. Remember, it's all about the Training Audience.
#5 Coaching: The experts in the team can of course use their knowledge to coach the TA during the Wargame. This does not mean they grandstand or take over the game content and agency of the players. rather, after an event has occurred in the game, they can use their expert perspective to give the TA something to think about before they make the same mistake again. Doing is learning too.
#6 Sense of Humour: Standard requirement. No professional bores please. Team members will often have to deal with thrusting young staff officers, staff candidates or ambitious executives. For them, bad outcomes in a game turn at that moment represents nothing less than career Armageddon. They need managed thought their disappointment (or even ego bloating success) with charm, understanding and humour.
#7 And no: The Adjudication Team does not need any
computer screens. Not necessary. At all.