Last week I wrote up one of the games I’ve been playing with groups, here’s the next one…
Game – Competing objectives
Objective: organisations are often trying to get teams working together more effectively. Yet at the same time those same organisations will set individual and team objectives in such a way that makes effective collaboration hard if not impossible. This short game illustrates the challenge.
Set up: split a group into around 6 teams. Each team to a maximum of 6 people, ideal size 2-5. The group as a whole is given an instruction:
“Over the next 15 minutes, as a group, we are tasked with coming up with as many ideas as possible to explore (something longish term like What does public transport look like in the year 2040? – make it relevant to the group, but not so specific that they get caught in rabbit holes).
This is an exercise in volume over quality. We need as many ideas as possible. Each of the sub teams will be given advice as to how their performance will be assessed. Use the tools you’ve been provided (Lego) to build representations of your ideas.”
Each sub team is then given instructions on a card as to how their success will be evaluated – one of the following:
- Your success as a sub-team will be judged by the number of your ideas that you can get adopted by other sub-teams
- Your success as a sub-team will be judged by the number of ideas that you can copy from other groups
- Your success as a sub-team will be judged by the number of ideas you create that are unique in the room
Each group should be given a bag or container with a share of Lego bricks.
Let the game run for as long as there’s still energy in the room.
The sub-teams have objectives that are in some cases complementary (1 and 2) and in others are in conflict (1 v 3 and 2 v 3). That reflects the way in which teams in organisations are heading to the same group goal, but often with conflicting objectives. Similarly, individuals in teams will often have conflicting objectives.
I’ve only run this one a few times, but have yet to see anyone get explicit about what their own objectives actually are. If everyone would ‘fess up at the beginning, the team as a whole would be much more productive. As it is, everyone spends ages wondering why everyone is performing differently.
I’ve used this as a kick off in events where team working and conflicting objectives are theme. It helps to open up discussions about why people might not be all pulling in the same direction in a way that is unconfrontational. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Lego is remarkable as a medium in bringing people out of their shells.
Feel free to play – and do let me know how you get on!