November 2010, CHAOS
This is a great activity to illustrate that our team/dept. structures sometimes create barriers between teams.
Depending on team size, divide the team into several sub-teams of three to five members each.
Setup: Each group has a hula hoop on the ground/floor. Inside of each hoop is a lot of stuff—toys, items from your obstacle course, paper wads, just lots of stuff that can be easily and safety picked up an carried.
Instructions/rules: Tell the teams that each team has a set of resources (the items in their hoop). Also tell them that they need more resources. There job is to work at getting all of the resources from the other teams inside of their hoop.
· They can only carry two items at a time.
· They cannot physically stop other teams from taking their items.
· It is a timed event.
· Ready begin. (It is critical to immediately tell them to start after you cover the rules. Don’t allow questions. Start the stopwatch and they will usually spring into action.
The teams typically begin frantically trying to steal resources from each other.
It is a very futile effort, but it is amazing how long some groups will struggle. I’ve had teams almost collapse from exhaustion.
Solution: The solution involves simply overlaying the hula hoops and putting all of the resources into the hoops. (We never said they couldn’t move the hoops.) Sometimes you will have to provoke them to think out of the box to finally arrive at the solution.
Debrief: A lot of great discussion can result. Ask questions to guide this.
How did you begin? What worked? What did not help?
What was it like? Chaos?
Is work ever like that?
Do you ever find that your team and/or dept. boundaries become barriers?
Do your ever fall into the trap of competing for resources instead of thinking about how you can win together?
Ask for specific examples.
When is competition good?
When does it get in the way?