The Rig

In this fascinating, high-stakes game of decision-making, players work together to successfully drill a borehole – and avoid the cognitive biases that could lead to disaster…

In 2010, the world witnessed an environmental disaster of epic proportions when the BP Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig exploded, killing 11 people and initiating the largest oil spill in the history of the United States. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, causing catastrophic damage to the ecosystem and economy of the region.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything, according to designers of The Rig, a team-based simulation that enables participants to understand and experience the consequences of cognitive biases on decision-making, while teaching and training universally applicable countermeasures.

Cognitive biases, such as group think, the conjunction fallacy, and confirmation bias, impair effective decision making. Therefore, successful leadership should be able to spot and mitigate circumstances that inadvertently promote them. In positioning players to understand and experience the consequences of these biases, The Rig is a serious (and fun!) game for effective leadership practice.

Over a series of increasingly complex rounds, teams of five manage the last stages of finalizing deep sea oil exploration through drilling a borehole for extraction and making decisions constrained by time, uncertainty, lack of information, and conflict.

While the game focuses on behavioral-learning outcomes, the final debriefing emphasizes emotional aspects to achieve a long-lasting learning effect – specifically, the debriefing reveals that the game is not artificial but mimics exactly the stages that led to the real catastrophe at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.


If you’re interested in using The Rig, or would like more information, email the Learning Lab team.