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Creative Collaboration Exercise

Brief Description/Purpose

To examine how teams, or a single team, operates in a collaborative mode on a task requiring brainstorming and creativity.



Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Any size. Uses small groups

Time For Exercise

20 minutes


Collaboration, teamwork, creativity

Detailed Instructions If Needed

This game is played in two rounds. Break large groups into smaller teams of four to seven. While teams don’t have to have the exact same number of participants, it should be close.
This activity uses the creative thinking technique called “concept combination.” This involves taking two concepts or objects and combining them in some novel way. For example, what can you come up with from the combination of a baseball hat and a rock, or an iPod and a cooler, or a hair dryer and a bike?

Have each participant write down the name of an object on a slip of paper and place it in a paper bag. After collecting all the slips, have someone randomly pick two slips of paper from the bag to be used by all teams in the first round of the activity. Read the items aloud and invite the teams to brainstorm to come up with a way to combine these two objects in a
creative and innovative manner.

Teams have six minutes to come up with the best idea. After the time is up, have each team present their idea to the group.

In the second round, have someone from each team randomly pick two slips of paper from the bag. The team now must brainstorm to come up with a way to combine their two new and different objects in a creative and innovative manner.

After six minutes, have each team present their best idea to the group.

Additional Information if Available

Here are some possible debrief questions:

  • What seemed to work best to come up with good ideas?
  • Did any of you hit roadblocks or get stuck to the point you couldn't finish in the time given? What happened?
  • Did any of you get frustrated? Why?
  • Is there something about creative tasks that is almost innately attractive?
  • Does time pressure affect creative tasks like this?
  • Even though this was not a competition with a winner per se, did you feel you should keep your ideas to your own team and make sure others didn't overhear as you worked?