Overview – Mock trials

Mock trials are an effective tactic for putting ‘on trial’ inhibitors of high performance to foster shared employee understanding with a view to work-shopping solutions. Staged in front of an audience, mock trials provide a forum for two sides to present evidence before a Chief Judge to facilitate an improvement in any of the following: Ineffective relationships, practices or behaviour, unsatisfactory services or products and inefficient processes or systems.

The mock trial team comprises a Chief Judge, Defense Counsel and Prosecuting Counsel. These roles can be performed by relevant leaders. Other employees are selected to act as ‘expert witnesses’ who represent the views of both ‘sides’.The trial is performed live as part of a conference, town hall meeting or leaders forum before an audience that has experience of the issue being put on trial. The audience can use the evidence presented to workshop solutions.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:


Providing a catalyst to build understanding, spark ideas and motivate action to address inhibitors of high performance.
 Communicating in a creative way to reduce information overload and get message cut-through.

cloudyThings to consider:


Appoint a Chief Judge to control the proceedings.
Assign expert witnesses representing different parts of the issue being put on trial. The witnesses are called to the stand one by one. The Defence Counsel asks the witnesses questions pertaining to ‘what’s working’. The Prosecution focuses on ‘what’s not working’.
 Expert witnesses speak for about five minutes each. Their evidence includes: what is working; what is not working; success stories and ideas for improvement. Witnesses should have a well-prepared brief based on a clear understanding or in-depth experience of the issue.
The Chief Judge sums up the evidence given and presents their ‘verdict’, which encapsulates outcomes and action items.
Keep the pace brisk. Allow an hour for a trial.
It can be conducted live at a conference, recorded for distribution via webcast, or discussed in a newsletter or magazine article.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:


A dress rehearsal ensures that all participants in the mock trial are familiar with the running schedule and each other’s content. It’s also an opportunity to agree on ways to introduce suitable theatricalities such as dramatic interruptions and humorous elements, if appropriate.
Category: Face to Face