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Team Building - Activity of the Month
The Star
12/16/2009 5:28:36 PM Link 1 comment | Add comment

This is another initiative that can be done just about anywhere. This is a great activity to follow the exercise posted on 12/07/2009, which was the Blind Polygon. It uses the same rope as the prop. Any number of people will work, but using a smaller number, such as 7 or 8, can lead to some important dialogue about how team size can impact the time necessary to accomplish tasks and projects. If you have a larger group which you use as one team for the Blind Polygon, you can split the group up into two units for The Star, and really see the contrast on team size. 

After thoroughly debriefing the Blind Polygon, notify the group that since they have discovered many important principles about working together, you would like to see them put it into practice on another rope activity. Have them pick the same rope up, or you might want to provide them with a slightly longer rope. It should still be knotted into a circle. Now, instruct the team to form a five point star, with all of the crosses, just like they would draw it paper without lifting the pencil. Tell them that because this is more complex, they can leave the blindfolds off. 
The same rules still apply. Team members are allowed to slide their hands along the rope, but they are not allowed to hand the rope back and forth, or to take up a different position on the rope. Even with their vision, this can be quite a challenge. Many groups have to start over, some more than once, before being successful.
40 ft. or longer rope - Use a good quality, soft nylon rope, approximately 1/2 “ diameter. A longer rope is necessary for large groups.
Safety tips:
Nobody should pull rope quickly as it could cause rope burns.
Processing points:
  • The importance of adequate information when working on projects.
    • Ask, "As project complexity goes up, what happens relative to your need for information?"
    • How did information flow in this exercise?
    • What are areas you might improve in the information flow in your workplace?
    • How might you accomplisht that?
  • Because of the contrast to the Blind Polygon, you can process excellent points about the importance of information, particularly as complexity of a project increases. Ask them how they would have progressed if you had taken away a source of information by using the blindfolds. Most will admit that it might have been impossible.
  • Leadership
    • Ask them to describe the leadership during the activity.
    • What worked well?
    • What additional leadership might help in complex work projects?
  • Decision making
    • How were decisions made?
    • How do you overcome differences of opinions when making decisions?
  • Communication
    • Describe the communications on the activity.
    • How did it compare to your communication at work?
    • What are obstacles to effective communication?
    • How can you overcome those?
Best of luck with this activity and the blind polygon,



Stick - Stack

Stick-stack is a great table top activity that can be used in a wide variety of applications. It is especially useful when you want a team or group to discover the importance of having a solid foundation to build their team upon.

  • Gum drops (approximately 16 per team)
  •  10”-12” bamboo skewers  (approximately 16 per team)
Have the group divide into pairs. If you have an odd number of people, allow one team of three people to participate.
Give each pair approximately 15-16 skewers, and about that many gum drops.
Their objective is to build the tallest free standing structure that they can, using only the gum drops and skewers.
Inform them that it is a timed event, and that they will have five minutes to complete their structure.
 Also, each participant can use only one hand. (This adds to the fun, and requires much more teamwork.)
(Caution team members to be careful not to stick each other with the skewers.)
Start the clock and have them begin. Notify them of the time remaining after each minute has elapsed.
At the end of 5-6 minutes, call time. Have team members let go of their creations. This will determine if their structures are “free standing.”
Processing points: 
  •  Ask the group how they approached the challenge?
  • What elements of teamwork were required for success?
  • Was any planning required/performed?
  • How were they impacted by the pressures of time/deadlines? Relate this to their actual work.
  • Ask them to identify what structural characteristics were necessary to meet the “free standing” objective. This will always lead to comments about the base, or foundation. This is perhaps the strongest processing point from the activity, as it lets you shift to a discussion regarding the foundation necessary for successful teams, etc.

 Simple, but powerful in lessons discovered.




Blind Polygon

This is a wonderful classic experiential team building initiative that can be done just about anywhere and with any number of people. Have the rope joined at the ends with a simple knot and lay it on the ground. Organize the team into a loose circle around the rope.  Inform them that they will be blindfolded for the exercise.  Give each person a bandana for that purpose.

Once they have their blindfolds in place ask them to hold their hands out so that you can hand them the rope.  Request that each person hold the rope loosely with both hands.  Next, instruct the team to form some shape. For example, ask them to form a right triangle, without letting go of the rope. Other shapes will work, too. Creating a square is a pretty good challenge. If you want a simpler task, simply ask them to produce a triangle. One of the more difficult forms is an equilateral triangle.

Team members are allowed to slide their hands along the rope as they shift positions, but they are not allowed to hand the rope back and forth, or to take up a different position on the rope. Once they have what they think is a pretty nice looking triangle, ask them to lay it on the ground and remove their blindfolds to view their masterpiece.

Equipment required:

  • 40 ft. rope (groups up to 15 members) - Use a good quality, soft nylon rope, approximately 1/2 “ diameter. A longer rope is necessary for large groups
  • Bandanna/blindfold for each participant

Safety tips:

  • Moving with blindfolds should always be done carefully
  • Nobody should pull the rope quickly as it could cause rope burns
  • Set this up in an area that is free of obstacles
  • If there is a team member who is uncomfortable being blindfolded, you can still let them participate. Just have them work in silence.


  • The importance of adequate information when working on projects.
    • Ask them about how they began their process. 
    • Did they assess the information at hand? 
    • Did they clarify the understanding among the team about the goal of the exercise and the constraints?
  • Leadership
    • How did leadership emerge on the team?
    • Did the team allow leadership to shift as other members had ideas?
  • Decision making
    • What was the decision making process like?
    • Describe the level to which all team members were involved.
  • Communication
    • At the start of the activity, how might you describe the communication within the team?
    • How did the communication progress as the activity got underway?
    • What helped the flow of ideas and information?
    • Were there examples of things that were not effective in the communications?  Explain

Best of luck with this great activity!



Return of ATC activities of the month
12/4/2009 8:17:24 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

team building, teams

In the early years of our website, we posted a team building activity every month or so. The purpose of this was to contribute to the many team developers and experiential team facilitators that desire ideas and activities to incorporate into their work.

It was a very popular page on our site.
After redesigning our site a few years ago, the activity of the month piece was no longer included.
We are very happy to announce that it is back! We will use a blog page. This will allow you to access a growing archive of team building exercises as we create them.
The plan is for it to be once per month, but over the next few weeks we will insert several activities in order to seed the blog with several idea postings.
Please let us know what you think. Contribute some ideas if you would like.
If you would like an email notification when we post a new activity, please let us know by contacting Angela Gallogly at We will add you to the email notification list.
Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts

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