About our Simulations

It is tragically easy to reduce the agony of world need to a set of statistics or data on a pie chart. Our longing is to work with people in need to bring alive, even under limited conditions, the dilemmas they face.
Speeches, presentations and academic papers have their place. Often, however, we hear people express weariness with talks and documentaries on global issues. They find an ‘experience’ of this lifestyle, even in simulated form, far more powerful. The old proverb says: ‘I cannot understand a man until I have walked a mile in his shoes.’ We offer participants, if not a mile, at least a few steps in the shoes of those who suffer. As one CEO told us, after participating in a simulation at Davos, “This takes it from hearing to being”. Another added, “Reading 1000 books would not have taught me what I learned in the past hour”.
Three “E”s best capture our desired outcomes:
 Education: We hope to give participants greater knowledge of global challenges.
• Empathy: We hope to impact both heart and head in our participants.
• Engagement: We explore ways, during our debrief, for participants to engage with global challenges.
It is always a challenge to portray a global issue in a sensitive way. Any simulation can only go so far, of course, somewhat like a live snap shot. In this, the simulation format faces the same challenge as other forms of communication: movies, documentaries, living museums, speeches or written papers. All may fail to give a realistic, or even a respectful, representation of people in need. Done appropriately, however, each can portray their subject matter in a way that allows participants a deeper identification with those who suffer and a fuller understanding of ways to partner with them. To help guide this process, when we seek to represent any particular need through simulation, two imperatives are of critical importance to us. Firstly, we work alongside people who have themselves lived with the issue we are addressing so that we can best represent what they battle. Secondly, we work with NGOs and others who serve people who are suffering. These two groups help steer the development of our simulations: the story line and its trueness to life, the props and set that best reflect reality, and the points they consider of critical importance for participants to take away.
Crossroads has held simulations weekly since 2005 and watched people become motivated at a depth that is unprecedented, in our experience. Many of the corporate leaders who have participated have remained involved with global issues, long after their simulation experience. Simulation experience has also birthed NGOs, projects and further engagement in the community, both adult and student.
The primary goal in our simulation activity is consciousness-raising. During its debrief, participants discuss a range of ways they can respond to global issues. Those in the corporate sector may consider engaging with their core competencies, utilising their company’s strengths and/or services to provide sustainable strategies for people in need. It would be at their discretion whether they need/choose to include a financial component.
Those running ‘Struggle for Survival’ receive no financial remuneration. They are volunteers.
Different people learn in different ways. Some find experiential learning more powerful while others prefer a straight cerebral process. When we speak with people who live with dire need, they express concern that their plight may be beyond others’ understanding without an opportunity to experience, even though briefly, a measure of their situation. We have therefore co-developed simulations with them. Participants tell us that, when they undertake this experience, they find it effective in ways they did not expect. Even those who say they come to it with a measure of scepticism often leave with a very different perspective, deeply moved. This simulation is offered in the hope of narrowing the gap between the understanding of those who are in need and those who would like to engage with them. As the Chinese proverb puts it: ‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.’
Simulations vary but some can be very powerful. For that reason, we warn those considering an experience that they may be placed in an intense situation. We also assure them that no actual harm will come to them. In addition, we tell them that if at any point during the experience, they feel they cannot manage, they may leave immediately and we will have staff ready to speak with them, as needed. Since we began offering simulations, we have almost never found people do this, but the offer is always there.
Following are responses from past simulations at Davos.
“A profound experience…” 
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations 
“Beautifully done.”
 Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Management Ltd. 
“Everyone should do this.” 
Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia 
“A remarkable experience…” 
Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Colombia University 
“Humbling, inspiring, thought-provoking and motivating – a truly remarkable experience. Thank you!”
Jane Nelson, Director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative 

“The simulation was as close to real as I could imagine.”
Dan Brutto, President, UPS International 
“Thank you…for the very powerful experience you gave so many of us…it was very well done – unsettling, authentic, transformative.” 
Amy E Roth, International Justice Mission 
“I don’t know how anyone could do this experience and not come out morally obligated to do something about it.” 
Paul Ellingstad, Director, Office of Global Social Innovation, HP 
“Most impactful experience I’ve had in a long time, with real inspiration to take action.” 
Mack Gill, President, Global Services, Sungard 
“Thank you on behalf of the 43 million refugees.”
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestle 
“A truly eye-opening session. It was a pause for deep reflection. I hope we can help in the future and will do all to make that happen.”
Peter Lacy, Managing Director for Sustainability Service Group, Accenture
Hong Kong
The Netherlands

Hundreds of companies have participated, including:

Allen & Overy
BNP Paribas
Baker & McKenzie
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Bank for International Settlements
Booz & Company
The Boston Consulting Group
CITI Group
Cathay Pacific
Clifford Chance
Coutts Bank
Credit Suisse
DBS Bank
EDS Asia
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
The Gap
Goldman Sachs
Holiday Inn
Hong Kong Disneyland
JF Asset Management
JP Morgan Private Bank
JW Marriot
Jones Lang LaSalle
Lane Crawford
Lexis Nexis
Li & Fung
Macquarie Capital Securities
Marks and Spencer
Mercedes Benz
Minter Ellison Lawyers
Morgan Stanley
Royal Bank of Scotland
Securities and Futures Commission
Standard Chartered
Thomson Reuters
Turner Broadcasting
Turner International
UPS International
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong


How it all began…


Each year we take a simulation to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

read more…

Our Work

We offer four global services…


Q & A – How are we financed?