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About Logistics
  • How much time does a game session require?

    Allow 3.5 to 4 hours. The game play and scoring require 1.5 to 2 hours, and the debrief requires 1.5 to 2 hours. It is possible to trim this time allocation, but it is not advised for most situations.

  • What training do I need to lead programs?

    We offer excellent in-person facilitator training for Friday Night at the ER, which is recommended but not required.

    You can self-train using the step-by-step guide for program leaders that comes with the game package. Before leading your first program, expect to invest some hours becoming familiar, planning your debrief and practicing the facilitator role with a small test group.

  • What is the best group size?

    Friday Night at the ER easily scales and works well with groups of different sizes. We have seen great experiences with groups as small as 4 and as large as 200. Your purpose and circumstances will drive the group size decision.

    As a general principle, a group size of 24 people (at 6 tables) hits a sweet spot - providing enough diversity to demonstrate different mental models and management practices, yet small enough for an interactive debriefing.

  • Does the game require exactly 4 players at each table?

    No. The best game play is with four players per table, but if your group is not divisible by four, some tables can have a fifth player. Advice for using a fifth player at a table and other tips are included in the guide that comes with your game package. The game is not suitable for just three people.

  • Does knowledge of hospitals matter?

    Just as you can enjoy Monopoly without real estate know-how, people can use Friday Night at the ER without hospital experience. The game instructions are clear; the processes represented are common to all organizations; the teachings are universally relevant. People from all walks of life play the game and relate the experience to their own industry or setting.

  • How can I see the game before I order it?

    Our Demo + Training Workshops provide a great opportunity to see Friday Night at the ER led by a pro. We also offer webinars where we show the game materials and answer questions.

  • Are there recurring fees for users?

    There are zero ongoing fees with Friday Night at the ER. You are not required to purchase training (it’s recommended, but optional); there are no books to purchase for participants; there are no per-player use fees to worry about.

  • What is the difference between the original and current version?

    The game materials were modernized and upgraded in early 2014 for better game play, debrief and program leader support. The dynamics of the game play - the layout and flow of the simulation and the lessons it teaches - are the same. For a detailed list of improvements, view or download the What’s New document here.

About Outcomes
  • What lessons does Friday Night at the ER teach?

    We could write volumes about this. There is more than one set of answers. In short, successful management requires these behaviors:

    • High-level collaboration across functional and other boundaries
    • Openness to innovation to adapt processes of the system to meet customer needs
    • Data-driven decision-making: knowing what customers need; having systems for measurement and performance feedback in place

    Organizational structures (e.g., boundaries, policies, performance feedback systems) can be designed to produce these behaviors, or they may (inadvertently) inhibit them.

  • Which systems thinking principles does the game demonstrate?

    The gameplay clearly demonstrates each of these basic Systems Thinking principles:

    • The parts of a system are interdependent
    • Our actions have multiple-order consequences
    • Optimizing a part can lead to poor system performance
    • Our mental models influence our actions
    • Structure drives behavior
    • Systems must be able to learn and adapt

    For fans of Peter Senge, the game illustrates the five disciplines of the learning organization (of which the "fifth discipline" is systems thinking) and his 7 organizational learning disabilities (in particular, "I am my position.").

About International
  • In which countries is the game used?

    Friday Night at the ER and its learnings are relatable across cultures. People are using the game in Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, People's Republic of China, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

  • Is it available in other languages?

    Yes! Friday Night at the ER is now available in other languages. Please contact us to learn more.

  • Can I become a distributor for Friday Night at the ER?

    We welcome consultants and educators as distributors. You earn income from sales while promoting Friday Night at the ER as one of your firm’s offerings. To qualify, you must have experience with Friday Night at the ER so you can represent the product to others. Let us know your interest and we will get in touch with details.

About Our History
  • Where did Friday Night at the ER come from and why was it created?

    The Friday Night at the ER game was developed in 1992 by Breakthrough Learning, Inc., a consulting and training firm based in Portland, OR. Its initial purpose was to broadly teach people to think systemically, collaborating across functional boundaries to achieve system goals. The game's design objectives were:

    • to create an experiential learning tool that would engage people in a learning process;
    • to simulate and illustrate dynamics that are common to complex systems; and
    • to promote an understanding of key systems principles in a way that enables people to gain insight about their relevance.

    Since its initial release, the Friday Night at the ER game has found use for a broader range of learning objectives within diverse organizations. Demonstrating the universality of systems principles, the game is in use by service organizations, manufacturing companies, government agencies, academic institutions and others in at least 30 countries.

    Learn more on the Friday Night at the ER wikipedia page.