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Operation Crucible in practice

We were asked to support an internal programme for a large UK construction company with a global reach.

The company runs its own business school to develop the capabilities of its staff and essential companies in its supply chain. Their prestige course is the Masterclass Programme, run annually for middle to senior executives, and for which Operation Crucible was selected as the programme finale.

The process

The participants were required to read pre-course work the night before, followed by videos and expert briefings on the crisis to be resolved. Over the next 8 hours, the participants worked in small teams, playing the role of a UN team advising on solving a humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. They were required to make a plan under time pressure and to brief their plan to UNHQ. As the day unfolded, the full scale of the problem was revealed and participants came under increasing pressure. Their calm under pressure, clarity of thought and teamwork were assessed. Media handling and communications skills were also tested.

Personal development

Each team was assigned an expert mentor with personal experience in extreme military or humanitarian crises. Space is built into the programme for mentors to build a rapport with each participant and impart their experience and expertise to enrich the learning opportunities. The session ended with a discussion on lessons learned, how participants could apply this learning to their executive roles, and what changes they may make in future to be more effective leaders.


None of the participants had experienced anything like Operation Crucible, and as well as thoroughly enjoying the ‘baptism of fire’, they took away invaluable lessons. Amicus was available for follow-up discussions and mentoring as part of the programme with a check-in over the following month.

To quote the Masterclass Programme Principal, “All participants said that the exercise had stimulated a huge amount of personal awareness and development that would be invaluable when they face difficult leadership situations in future.”

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