The Challenge Series

Go beyond the basics by building knowledge and skills that can make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary performance.

Challenge Series


The Challenge Series is a collection of dynamic team exercises that focus on improving knowledge and skills in complex areas such as critical thinking, ethical decision making, and strategic planning. Although the topics addressed by the simulations are appropriate for a wide variety of audiences, they are particularly relevant to those who are in—or who aspire to move into—higher-level positions.


In addition to teaching techniques and processes for dealing with complex situations, the Challenge Series can be used to equip participants with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively in teams. And since teams (rather than individuals) handle most of the more demanding and complex problems faced by organizations, the circumstances presented by these simulations are highly relevant and realistic.

More than just a training tool

The Challenge Series simulations can be used to meet a variety of training objectives in the classroom or at off-site meetings. They are also extremely effective for use right in the work place—to kick off or reinvigorate groups that are tackling the same types of issues addressed by the simulations. In addition, the Facilitator’s Manual for each Challenge Series exercise provides suggestions for extending the challenge presented by the simulation and applying it to participants’ organizations.

Choose your challenge

Robert A. Cooke, Ph.D. and Janet L. Szumal, Ph.D., of Human Synergistics developed seven different Challenge exercises for the American Management Association. Each of the exercise booklets includes a set of cards that participants can use to facilitate the development of their solutions.


Interested in using a Challenge Series simulation?

Contact us for information on product pricing and/or consulting and coaching services. (Online ordering is not available.)

Choose the challenge series that’s right for you


The Situation

The Challenge


Organizational Change Challenge
Learn the steps of an effective organizational change process
Sample Participant Booklet

Concerns about the stagnating growth of a home health care supplies and equipment manufacturer require that you and the other top managers outline a change process for revitalizing the company.

Sequence 17 activities in the order they should be implemented to most effectively accomplish organizational change.

1.5 to 3 hours

Critical Thinking Challenge
Stimulate creativity and innovative problem solving by applying critical thinking strategies and techniques

You work for a growing manufacturer of high-quality plastic parts and are a member of one of its continuous improvement teams.

Come up with creative and workable solutions to five problems—all of which are difficult to solve by means of traditional problem-solving approaches.

20 to 35 minutes per problem (1.75 to 3 hours total)

Ethical Decision Challenge
Promote recognition of ethical dilemmas and the skills for dealing with them

You are a member of your hospital’s Institutional Review Board, which is responsible for evaluating research proposals involving human subjects.

Rank 10 research practices involving human subjects in order of their relative permissibility or acceptability.

1.75 to 3 hours

Constructive Negotiations Challenge
Learn what it takes to achieve “win-win” agreements

You are a manager at a large computer software company and serve on a committee responsible for negotiating agreements and contracts with prospective partner organizations.

Sequence 17 negotiation activities in the order they should be implemented to effectively develop integrative contracts and agreements.

1.75 to 3 hours

Strategic Planning Challenge
Discover how to plan beyond the boundaries of your department or unit

You are the manager of a strategic business unit and serve on a committee responsible for developing strategic plans consistent with the mission and philosophy of the larger organization.

Sequence 18 critical strategic planning activities in the order they should be implemented to most effectively achieve a set of integrated plans at the corporate and business unit levels.

1.75 to 3 hours

Performance Management Challenge
Learn a process for maximizing motivation and performance

You have been appointed to serve on a committee responsible for developing new performance management guidelines and procedures that will be used throughout a large financial services company.

Sequence 20 performance management activities in the order they should be implemented to evaluate and improve the performance of appraisees most effectively.

1.75 to 3.75 hours

Project Management Challenge
Organize project management activities in a practical and efficient way to complete projects on time and within budget

You are a project manager and have recently been appointed to serve on a committee responsible for outlining a standard process for managing projects within your organization.

Sequence 24 typical project management activities in the order they should be carried out to maximize the effectiveness of the project management process.

1.75 to 3.75 hours