To explore barriers to team working and the solutions. Thanks to Mark Lake for sharing this on LinkedIn.
"The exercise illustrates the importance of having a clear collective aim, and how poorly a team or organisation functions when individuals (or teams within the whole) have different aims within it. It’s a great energetic, physical exercise which gets groups interacting, talking, negotiating, stepping over each other and generally getting deeply involved. "
Ideal Group Size
from fifteen upwards to as many as you have room for – it requires a decent amount of floor space to make it work well.
Time For Exercise
40 minutes + 30 minutes feedback
Team Building, Agendas
Detailed Instructions If Needed
Issue the whole group a box of toy building blocks, (e.g. Lego/ Duplo etc, with various different coloured bricks) OR different coloured cards cut to about the same size as a house brick. The whole group task is to build a wall of certain dimensions (the facilitator will state height and width according group numbers – Make it as big as time allows).
Split the group into smaller teams of 5-10 each.
Issue each small team with their own 'hidden agenda', or agendas if it’s a smaller group, which they must keep secret and try to achieve. The hidden agendas can be anything that conflicts with other hidden agendas, which will have the potential to create conflict while the main task of building the wall is under way. Each hidden agenda must be possible, albeit sometimes at the expense of other agendas.
Some examples of hidden agendas :-
• ensure there are three red bricks on each row
• ensure no red brick touches a yellow one
• ensure a blue brick touches a yellow brick on each row
• ensure every row contains two yellow bricks
• ensure there is a vertical line of touching white bricks, one block wide, from top to bottom
• ensure no row contains more than three different coloured bricks
• ensure every row contains at least one double-block brick
• Ensure that all green bricks are at the end of the row
Beyond these you can invent your own – if it’s important that the larger group can complete the task of building the wall then you will need to do a dry run beforehand to make sure you haven’t created an impossible task!
Feedback on exercise (30 minutes):
What worked, what was frustrating, what helped, what hindered, what did you have in common with others etc.
How much planning was done before the ‘building work’ started?
What caused most problems – what solved these?
How does having information withheld from you feel ?
How do you resolve the overall aim with each set of smaller aims ?
How does this translate back to the workplace and relate to teams with conflicting targets, ideas goals etc.
What would you do differently if you had to do it again?