You are on page 1of 47

free team building games

free team building games ideas, exercises and activities for employee motivation, training and development, children's games and party games
Free team building games, free team building activities and free team building exercises for building teams and corporate employee motivation. Employee motivation benefits from team building games, exercises and activities. Use these free team building games and exercises ideas to warm up meetings, training, and conferences. These free team building games are also great ice breakers for training sessions, meetings, workshops, seminars or conferences. Team building games and activities are useful also in serious business project meetings, where games and activities help delegates to see things differently and use different thinking styles. Games and exercises are vital for stimulating the brain, improving retention of ideas, and increasing fun and enjoyment. Most of these games can be used or adapted for children's development and education, or for kids party games. We cannot accept responsibility for any liability which arises from the use of any of these free team building exercises ideas or games - please see the disclaimer notice below. Always ensure that you have proper insurance in place for all team building games activities, and take extra care when working with younger people, children and if organising kids party games.

see also: team building games ideas and theory, which explains about preparation, organization and training for team building games and exercises, free puzzles for quizzes,

free tips on running teambuilding workshops. free team building games - warm-ups, quick games and exercises, icebreakers, exercises and activities
These free team building games and exercises generally last less than one hour, and can be adjusted to create longer team building activities, depending on team building, ice-breaker, training development required.

the postbag exercise (for group selection recruitment, time management, planning and prioritising, and assessing strategic judgement and initiative, team-working, organization and decision-making)
This exercise is good for group selection activities. The team exercise is to sort a big pile of your typical post. Team size 3-5, so if there are more than 5 delegates create more than one team, and ensure suitable space, materials, and facilitator for each team. If used as a group selection activity involving more than one team (it would be suitable for supervisors and clerical staff) observers can move between teams. You'll need to define the typical destinations/actions - give basic guidelines but not sufficient for all the answers, so that there's opportunity for teams and team members to use their own initiative. Define the purpose of the exercise clearly in terms that reflect what you want the delegates to achieve and the hypothetical situation in which they'll be working. Also explain to the team(s) that they can ask facilitators about certain items if required, and include two or three oddball items that definitely need asking about. Observers will be able to see how the teams organize themselves, people's levels of initiative and judgement, experience, who has good and less good ideas, input, and how people work with others in a team situation. You could ask the teams to present their conclusions as to what should happen with the contents of their postbag. Review and discussion also will provide

useful indicators. For added challenge you could throw in a couple of 'interruptions' such as phone calls or visitors introducing additional issues to be sorted, prioritised and actioned. This exercise can also be used for supervisory management development and assessment. If used with people who already work for the organization the exercise provides useful indication as to delegates strategic awareness and prioritisation capabilities and judgement.

SWOT analysis team building exercises (for team building, decision-making, change-management, strategy development, direction and motivation)
For a single team or any number of teams. For teams of three or four team members. Teams of five and over require a team leader. This is a really motivational and empowering activity that can deliver immediate organizational and business benefits. The exercise duration is from 30 minutes upwards, depending on the complexity of the SWOT subjects issued to or agreed with the teams. The SWOT exercise can take a whole day if the task is complex and big. First refer to the SWOT analysis notes and template examples on this site. Ensure all delegates are issued with SWOT analysis instructions, and confirm their understanding of the process, which makes an ideal initial group exercise. Identify before the session, or have the teams or team members do so at the start of the exercise, suitable subjects for SWOT analysis. Have the teams choose a subject each, and then work as a team to produce the SWOT analysis, which should then be presented back to the group for discussion and review. It's important that the teams want the particular subjects. Prior to the exercise it's important for the facilitator to clarify what will happen after the exercise to the teams' SWOT analysis findings, so that team members have an appropriate expectation for where their efforts and recommendations will lead. This SWOT exercise is very flexible - use it to suit the situation, the group, and what the organization needs. Examples of SWOT subject areas (have some specific propositions, opportunities or options handy in case you need them): organizational or departmental change options business development ideas

team re-structuring problem-solving options customer service improvement ideas production/distribution/technical support efficiencies or improvements ideas

N.B. 1. The above headings are not SWOT subjects, they are areas within which you can identify SWOT subjects. 2. A SWOT analysis can only be used to assess a specific option, proposition, company, department or idea - a single SWOT analysis cannot be used to compare options or evaluate a number of options or propositions at once. 3. Avoid agreeing to SWOT subjects that are clearly beyond the remit of the teams (which creates expectations that cannot be met), unless the situation allows for the group to make recommendations. 4. A SWOT analysis measures a business unit, a proposition or idea; a PEST analysis measures a market.

PEST analysis team building exercise (for team building, motivation, direction, strategy development, gaining buy-in and consensus)
See the PEST analysis article and template. Structure the activity as with the use of SWOT analysis exercise above. Note that a SWOT analysis is based broadly on half internal and half external factors. A PEST analysis measures a market; a SWOT analysis measures a business unit, a proposition or idea. PEST is almost entirely based on external factors, so ensure at least some members of each team have knowledge of, or are able to consider, the PEST factors if you intend using this exercise. PEST is a good exercise for marketing people, and is good for encouraging a business developmant, market orientated outlook among all staff. If you want to use PEST with staff who are not naturally externally focused you can have them do some research and preparation in advance of the exercise. As with the SWOT exercise, it's important to clarify the subject of the/each analysis.

'my pet hate' exercise (for rapportbuilding, empathy, facilitative

questioning, active reflective listening, interpretation, personal development)


An innovative and effective team building exercise for training and practising active and reflective listening skills, empathy, and facilitative questioning. Also a great team activity for personal development and personal problem solving. For groups of six or more in teams of three or pairs. Ask each delegate to think of a situation or person that they find extremely difficult or frustrating. The situation can be from work or home life, but nothing so personal as to cause discomfort when revealed to others. Guide delegates also to avoid criticism of other people who might be part of identified frustrations, whether these people are present or not. For teams of three, the first person is the interviewer, second person is as interviewee, and third is observer. The first person in each team has 5 minutes (facilitator can allow longer, depending on total exercise time available, group size and desired intensity) to question the second person about the second person's difficulty or frustration. The first person should use rapport-building and empathy, sensitive facilitative questioning, active listening, reflective listening, and interpretation skills, to encourage and enable the second person to explain how they feel, why they feel like it, what are the causes and what might be the remedies, plus any other points of relevance. The second person should try to respond naturally to the interviewer. The group then reconvenes and the first person from each team must then briefly (max 2-3 mins) describe, explain and summarise to the group the second person's difficult situation. The second person from each team then gives feedback to the group (including to their interviewer) as to the accuracy of the interpretation and the quality of the interviewing (rapport-building, facilitative questioning, active listening, reflection, interpretation and empathy) used by the first person. The third person observer of each team then provides a brief neutral overview comment, if required and helpful. When each team has completed these stages, rotate the roles and run the exercise again, so that each person plays the interviewer, interviewee and observer. This exercise can also be run in pairs, without the third-person observers, which is appropriate for small groups of 4-8 people, or if the time available for the exercise doesn't allow three rotations of the team roles. Use the review sheet to provide a break-it-down structure for feedback and review. For odd numbers of groups the facilitator can take part to make teams numbers equal, which is important so as to avoid creating 'passengers' (inactive team members) at any stage. Training and review elements of the exercise (optional use of training element review sheet):

1. 2. 3. 4.

rapport building and empathy (intuitive sensitive style) facilitative questioning active/reflective listening accuracy of interpretation and description

Exercise duration and activity options typically: Facilitator's introduction and explanation, in use of training element review sheet - 5 mins Optional brainstorm of review elements - 5 mins First interviews in teams of three - 5 mins Summaries to group and feedback - number of teams x 3 mins Second interviews in teams of three - 5 mins Summaries to group and feedback - number of teams x 3 mins Third interviews in teams of three - 5 mins Summaries to group and feedback - number of teams x 3 mins Final group review of activities and experiences - 5-30 mins depending on exercise depth and intensity requirement Optional review of personal actions arising - 5 mins (defer major issues outside exercise session) Total exercise time nominally 30-45 mins plus 3 mins for each interview summary = total delegates x 3 mins, ie., a group size of fifteen in teams of three will take a total of 75-90 mins. If the exercise is run in pairs without observers the third round of interviews and summaries is obviously not required.

smartie hunt game (team building, icebreakers, warm-ups, leadership, delegation, fun)
A fun game for a team building ice-breaker or training warm-up, for leadership and team motivation, and a great party game for kids or adults. This activity is also a great leveller and funny to play and observe. For groups of ten to thirty or so people, dependent on the room size. Split the group into two or more teams - ideally 5-7 per team - and have each group appoint a leader, which can - if helpful be the least confident, most junior member of each team (leadership in this game is fun, and should help build confidence and status of the leader). Before the session hide the contents of a tube of smarties sweets (or a box, depending on team numbers and game duration) around the room. Write down on separate pieces of paper the names of as many animals as there are team members (or children if its a kid's party). Animals should be those associated with recognizable noises, eg., pig, horse, cow, donkey, snake, duck, chicken, monkey,

frog, etc., although for an adults party, for extra fun, you can include one or two animals for which no recognizable sound is commonly known, eg., platypus, armadillo, hamster, etc. (For very large groups you can double the number of available animals by prefacing each one 'little'/'large', or 'mummy'/'daddy', and stipulate that the noises should differ accordingly - high and low of course...) First have each team member take a piece of paper which shows the animal they are to play in the game. The object of the game is for team members to find the hidden smarties, and direct their leader to them by making their own animal noise (actions are entirely optional in this game, also great fun and virtually inevitable). The team leader who collects the most smarties wins the game for their team. Team leaders are not permitted to look for smarties. Team leaders are not permitted to follow the sounds of animals belonging to other teams, but opposing team members are permitted to follow sounds of animals of other teams, and then to make their own noises on seeing the smarties. This great game requires leaders to remember which animals are in their teams, so a minute can be permitted for this before starting the game. You can also allow a couple of minutes for teams to prepare game tactics, although this is not essential. Give a time limit - 5-10 minutes is fine as smartie hunts are tricky to predict. The use of smarties provides a good link to the SMART and SMARTER acronyms relating to task delegation. As an alternative to smarties sweets you can use M&Ms instead, which link well to the 3M mnemonic or MMM acronym: measurable, manageable, motivational, defining the essential elements of any contracted arrangement or delegated task (see the acronyms and delegation free materials).

tattoo game (relationships, attitudes and behaviour perceptions)


A game for dinner parties or team building and bonding, however this game is definitely not an activity for particularly sensitive people as it involves revealing personal information, and entails discussion of potentially personal feelings and perceptions. Seek all team members' agreement before playing this game. This exercise can be used for fun and relationship-building, or to highlight and challenge assumptions and pre-conceived judgement about people, class, background, stereotypes, etc. You can develop different games ideas around this exercise depending on the type of party game or team building activity required (and the level of intimacy welcomed by the group), based on the game as follows: ask team members to write down secretly on a piece of paper each whether they have any tattoos on any part of their body, or for more daring groups or party games, a description of the tattoos and their locations. (The amount of detail to be given is a

variable factor of the game and must always be subject to agreement by the delegates.) Team members then fold their pieces of paper and put each into a container to prevent cheating. Group members then take turns to pick one of the folded pieces of paper and guess who it belongs to. Team members should read out what's written on the paper and explain their thought process (which obviously raises points for comment and reaction during or after the guessing game). If the person guesses correctly, the paper is removed, if not, it is placed back into the container. Points can be awarded for correct guesses and/or to team members incorrectly matched to tattoos. For groups of up to seven the guessing stage of the game is best played by individuals; groups of eight and over can be split into two teams for the guessing stage of the game, in which case members of the guessing team are not allowed to admit or deny ownership of the description. Team members should also be instructed to disguise handwriting, and to use the same sort of pen or pencil, to avoid giving clues. Allowance also needs to be made for team members having visible or known tattoos, the simplest rule being to disregard these tattoos. For the same reason team members selecting a description that they know already (of a friend for instance) should return the piece of paper to the container without revealing its contents and pick another. The point of the game is not the score or who wins, it is the speculation and guessing, and the ensuing discussion and reaction, particularly people's reactions when being matched incorrectly, and correctly, to particular tattoos. For more adventurous activities and variations to this game you can extend the exercise to include body piercings, which, like tattoos, for the purpose of the game, should not be known or visible. N.B. Tattoos and piercings are actually a serious and fascinating aspect of human behaviour, culture and evolution, and have featured in one form or another across most civilizations throughout the history of human-kind; in a games context the subject can produce lively and enlightening debate. (As with all of these games on this team building page please read carefully the disclaimer below - if in doubt about any team member's vulnerability or sensitivity to any team building game or activity, don't use it.)

the 'prisoner's dilemma' win-win game (based on the 'prisoner's dilemma' puzzle, for team building, and teamworking, co-operation skills)
Various versions of this can be used - here's a free 'prisoner's dilemma' win-win game sheet and scorecard for a great team building game ideally for a group split into two teams of up to five per team (larger

teams require leaders to avoid chaos or disaffected passengers). The teams must select simply either 'defect' or 'co-operate' in each round. Scoring is based on the selections of both teams. The point of the game is to game is to demonstrate that poor co-operation leads to winners and losers, and ultimately everyone loses as a result of retaliation. When the teams decide to cooperate, everyone wins. The facilitator acts as the 'banker'. Use this free team building exercise with groups sizes from four (in which case the 'teams' would be pairs), up to twenty or more, or split teams into pairs and have them play separately. Contact us for a working file if you need to make amendments. For details and examples of the prisoner's dilemma look at the puzzles section. More guidance for playing the prisoner's dilemma game: The game is better with two teams, but it will work with several teams. The game sheet that is available as a pdf on the free resources section of businessballs is all you need to give to the teams. The only 'question' each round for each team is to decide whether to defect or cooperate. If delegates want to start with an imaginery 'float', rather than having to contemplate being in debt, you can agree a small credit balance for each team. The point of course is that if all teams cooperate they will beat the banker, but it takes a while for them to realise this - so don't tell them before hand, just explain the scoring system and tell them the point is to accumulate as much 'money' as possible teams then tend to defect and try to win at the other team's expense, which in turn causes relatiation, which produces unsustainable losses. For background reference, read the explanation of the prisoner's dilemma on the complex puzzles page. Use the game sheet from the free resources section (one per team - make sure all team members can see it - if necessary issue copy-sheets or show the sheet on a screen). The facilitator should practice the game first with individuals (eg family members) playing the part of the teams, so you see how it works. In early rounds make sure that teams do not reveal their selection to other teams until they all show their selection at the same time - the best way is have them write down on a sheet of paper and then all show together, or for them to hold up a preprepared 'defect' or 'cooperate' card, simultaneously, when the facilitator says to. As the game progresses allow teams to confer if they ask to. The facilitator needs to keep the score for all the teams on a flipchart or equivalent.

The game ends when the teams get the point and are all cooperating every round, which will beat the banker.

team-building workshops (for team building, change management, performance management, creativity, train-the-trainer, problem solving, process development, etc)
Workshops are a wonderful way to motivate and focus teams, as well as breaking down barriers, and developing performance, confidence and achievement. Workshops are also ideal for teams and groups who might resist or feel uncomfortable with games or activities too far removed from their normal work. Workshops can be very quick, and integrate well within routine team meetings. Workshops also help establish new leaders into teams whether established or newly formed. The participative aspect of workshops make them highly effective team building activities. As ever, for any training session, workshops need clear aims be established and agreed, and the session to be clearly planned and managed, with useful, relevant outputs, which can be coached later through implementation. More details about workshops, and a sample format for a 1-2 hour session are on the workshop section.

up in the air (for team building, handling change, team development, teamwork, listening skills, illustrating the training and learning process, and more)
You can use this game to support the training of any new task, particularly if delegates feel unsure about their ability to learn the new task and apply it along with existing activities. The game works extremely well, and trainees love it because it's different and fun. This exercise will also help participants understand and deal with that uncomfortable feeling when they join a new team, experience change within their own team, or are forced to adjust to a change in procedure or policies. It emphasises the understanding of 'what is now new and will soon become the normal' and helps demonstrate how the transition from new to normal can flow naturally. Amongst other things, use this great team building game to develop multi-tasking ability, eg., for people who are unsure of their ability to talk to

customers and work on the computer at the same time. This game is also ideal as a warm-up for training sessions or courses because it helps delegates remember the names of other people in the group. How it works: A group of 6 to 20 stand in a circle facing each other. The facilitator must participate as well. The facilitator explains to the group that they will call out a person's name and toss a ball (such as a stress ball or juggling ball - any soft object actually, even fruit or cuddly toys will suffice) to the named person. That person must then call out another person's name in the circle (who has not yet had the object tossed to them) and then throw the object to that person. This continues until everyone in the circle has thrown and caught the object. The facilitator must explain to the group that each person must remember their catcher. When the object has been thrown to everyone in the group, the ball returns to the facilitator, and is then thrown around the circle again, in the same order as before. This cycle continues until the facilitator is happy that the whole group is comfortable with the exercise. (You'll know this because people are actually listening for their name to be called out and catching the object.) When the group is competent with the first ball, the facilitator introduces a second ball (or suitable object), which must follow the same order as the first, so that two objects are being passed around the group. When competence is reached with the two objects, a third is introduced, and still, every thrower must announce the name of the catcher before throwing. And so on. At some stage between three objects and saturation point (ie as many objects being passed as people in the group - it's up to the facilitator) without warning the facilitator instructs the group to begin tossing the objects in the REVERSE order (ie., catchers call out names of, and throw to, the people who previously threw to them. Chaos at first, but all great fun, and gradually people learn, which after all, is the point of the game. Points to review: How did you feel when the exercise began? After you reached a comfort level with the task, how did you feel when more objects were added? How soon did you achieve comfort level when new objects were introduced, and did this timescale change for each new object? Did anyone in the team begin encouraging or helping others by telling them to just focus on the person tossing the object to them? When we had the major change of reversing the order the object was tossed, did you expect it? How did you handle it? Did the group eventually perform well at it and get a constant flow of objects in the air? You will think of more questions to ask and points to review, especially when seeing the game played. (Ack. Tori Sarmiento)

team jenga and reverse jenga (team building, leadership, tactics, planning)
Jenga is the traditional wooden-block tower de-construction game, table-top version or giant garden outdoors size. In teams of between two and six, play it normally (removing blocks, each team taking turns to remove a block until it collapses) or in reverse (building it up, taking it in turns, keeping to a specified pattern or set of rules, again until it collapses). You can use other suitable building blocks or materials in the absence of Jenga (snack-size chocolate bars are good). With larger teams (four or more) allow some planning time for tactics and leadership issues to be developed, and review afterwards accordingly.

who am i ?
Lots of variations to this one: Can be played individually or in teams. A card on is taped onto the player's forehead showing everyone the name written on it. The player with the card on his/her forehead (who does not know the name on the card) must then ask closed questions (requiring only 'yes' or 'no' answers) to establish his/her identity. The method of creating name-cards is flexible: the facilitator can prepare in advance, or have the group think of names and create cards, based on any theme that's appropriate, including work colleagues, or even the session group members themselves. Using names of work-colleagues and group members adds a fascinating dimension, (relationships, reputations, perceptions, emotions), so needs sensitive facilitation and review.

tyre game
A wonderful team building game for teams of ideally 10 to 15 persons, although a minimum of six people per team will work, and actually there is no upper limit per team - it depends on space, and how much emphasis is placed on the planning stage. Total group size is therefore as many 10-15 person teams that the space will accommodate, which also makes this team building exercise terrific for conferences and warm-ups of very large groups. You'll need two bicycle tyres, with different tread patterns, for each team. Organize each team into a circle, with the team members' hands tightly clasped. The tyres are introduced by the facilitator at opposite points of the circle by unclasping hands of two members and hanging the tyres on the arms, which should then be joined again by clasping their hands. The object of the game is for the team to pass each tyre in a different direction around the circle, involving two crossings of the tyres, and then

finishing with each tyre at its starting position. The team which finishes first wins the game. Hands must not be unclasped, and thumbs cannot be used to support or move the tyres. Allow ten minutes planning and thinking time, (or for very large teams where a warm-up only is required, give instructions so that the game can start immediately). Obviously the game must start at the same time for each team. The trick is for the tyre to be moved up the arm, over the head, down the body, at which point the person steps out of the tyre, one leg after the other, and the tyre continues down the other arm to the next team member. The stepping manoeuvre when two tyres cross is the most difficult and requires some agility, so the planning and team selection is potentially very important. NB As a facilitator you must practice this game before using in a team building or conference situation, to prepare for questions and to demonstrate, if required. Here are the typical review points for the tyre game team building exercise, usually based on the performance of the winning team: The team understands the task and aim of the team building game. The circle of people develops into a team with a common objective. Technique to achieve task is discovered and refined by 'storming' (see the Tuckman team development model). A team leader emerges. Practice (essential) develops technique and plan. The leader's role becomes stronger as the team develops. Difficulties are ironed out. Resources (people) are reorganized. Right person for the right job (notably for the two crossing points) Training and practice are carried out. The team becomes increasingly motivated to perform. Performance improves, excels, achieves and wins. (With thanks to Lt Col Ajay Ukidve (retired), Victory Associates, Pune, India)

table quiz
It's very easy to create a simple quiz - base it on a theme or general knowledge - which can be use for teams or pairs in competition. See the Big Boys Toys table quiz as an example of a themed quiz, available as a pdf download (Ack. J Hespe). See also the puzzles section for quiz questions. The Big Boys Toys table quiz can be given as a competitive exercise between teams lasting 20-30 minutes plus 10 minutes to

review, or as a quiz to be worked on in breaks or overnight as light relief. Prizes always increase team-building value and enthusiasm.

spaghetti and marshmallow towers


For a variation on the newspaper construction theme....... Issue spaghetti (raw uncooked) and marshmallows to groups of 4-5, and give them 15-30 minutes to build the highest structure in the room (or a widest bridge or tallest arch, etc - whatever the facilitator decides). A really different fun exercise for team-building, motivation and illustrating many management and organizational principles. Exercise duration, amount of materials allocated, group sizes, and whether to appoint team leaders are all flexible aspects of this wonderful game. Excellent for jaded business-people, young people and schools. The review afterwards can focus on a wide range of issues - team-building, motivation, time-management, organization, systems, planning, communication, resources, research and development, etc. If you use this exercise to illustrate a particular aspect - eg communication - it is helpful for the delegates to discuss and highlight some of the essential points in the pre-exercise brief, which provides a useful framework for the review. These unusual materials can also be used instead of construction kits for the organizational modelling exercise below. (Thanks Kathi Bogue)

delegate introductions
A very easy warm-up to relax everyone - whether the delegates know each other or not (surprisingly this is often more fun when they do and if they don't they'll appreciate the opportunity to meet and get to know each other early on). This will also take the early pressure off you as the facilitator by having them do some of the work. Ask the delegates to pair up - you can simply suggest the person sitting next to themselves, or something more active, like finding someone with the same colour hair, or same height, or same colour eyes, anything appropriate for the group. Then ask each person briefly to interview the other person (say three mins each), and then everyone to present the other person to the audience, again briefly, say a minute each. This is much more dynamic than simply asking everyone to introduce themselves. If necessary give people pointers as to what they should be finding out about the other person (eg - job, home-life, likes, dislikes, hobbies, why they are there, etc). You can also say that after the exercise that everyone will have achieved useful experiences and developed useful skills, ie, questioning, listening, interpreting and then (scary for some) speaking to an audience of strangers. These aspects

of communicating are usually consistent with at least one theme of the day, so is a relevant and helpful way to start any training session.

the golf-ball shaker (for creativity and ice-breaking)


The exercise is great for beginning any creative session as it gets people thinking and working outside of their known area. It's also a good warm-up for any situation as it gets people participating, smiling and laughing. It's best done by individuals, although for a large group it can be done in pairs. Ask the delegates first to design a shoe - any shoe - making a sketch in 30 seconds. Displaying and reviewing quickly all the ideas is an important part of the exercise so have the delegates draw on acetate for an overhead projector, or make a large drawing on a flipchart sheet, using coloured fibre-tip pens. Quickly review each of the designs. There are no right or wrong answers - the likelihood is that most people's shoe designs will all be similar and certainly resembling styles available in the high street, which is because they are thinking about a concept that already firmly exists - people mostly will be accessing memory and experience rather than truly creating. Next ask each delegate or pair to design an electric heater, again in 30 seconds. Review each design quickly. This time there will be some quite different designs - again no right or wrong answers - the purpose is to show that with less well-defined pre-conceptions the ideas will be slightly fresher and a lot more varied. Finally ask each of the pairs or delegates to design a 'golf-ball shaker' - give no other explanation (what the hell is a golf-ball shaker?.....) - again give 30 seconds for the task. Review the designs and marvel at the range of interpretations and ideas. The ideas necessarily are more creative and innovative because there are no pre-conceptions or existing products in the delegates' minds. The exercise is liberating and enjoyable, particularly when the ideas are reviewed. You can add more intrigue to the exercise by asking the delegates to guess who is responsible for each design, which highlights the aspect of personal flair and style in design and creativity. (Ack. Tony Wills).

round tables (for delegation, leadership, team building)


Split the group into three teams of five. Around the room (or building) put five tables and on each table put three sets of materials and instructions for a task - use things like newspaper bridge building, newspaper towers, playing card sorting, anything that's complex

enough to create a delegation challenge for a team of four plus leader (lots of ideas for the tasks appear below). The game is a contest (or time-based race, depending on the scoring system you prefer to use) between the three teams to complete all five table tasks in turn, only moving from one to the next when each task is completed, or when time is elapsed. Every team member takes it in turn to lead their own team and delegate the task activities as the team moves from table to table. While leading, the leaders are not permitted to take part in the task other than speak to their team members. To prepare, you need three sets of five task materials/instructions. Each exercise should have a time limit (up to you), and there needs to be a clearly understood scoring system for each task (easiest would be simply 3pts for winner, 2pts for 2nd and 1pt for 3rd). As the judge, you reserve the right to deduct penalty points for transgressions (eg leaders participating, or tasks being incomplete or running over time). There needs to be a clear way to measure the performance of each team for each task, so there can be a clear result at the end. The extent to which relative performance is visible to all teams at the time of doing the tasks is up to you - it's a variable factor that changes the nature of the activity (the less visible the performance the more test for the leader as to what's required to win) - some tasks could be clearly visible (eg., tower height), others might only be revealed at the end of the whole activity (eg playing card sorting). Tasks don't all need to be physical construction. Tasks can be varied, including mental (eg puzzles) or creative (finding things out), and they don't necessarily need to be done at the table (teams might be required to go off in search of things in the building - information, or obscure items, like a mini-treasure hunt). The tables need only be the base points for each task, where the leader gets the task instructions. Prior to the activity you should brainstorm with the whole group the relevant skills/aspects that will be useful in the whole activity, eg: establishing who's good at what, timing, resource planning, clear instructions, etc. Use these points as a basis for review afterwards. After the activity review with participants how they felt when being delegated to do things - motivation, consultation, participation, encouragement, clarity of instructions, style of leadership, etc. Also review experience of the leaders - what was difficult, what could be improved, why some things are more difficult to delegate than others. Refer to the notes on delegation and issue these guidelines before or after exercise.

maslow ads (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and motivation)

In pairs or threes, or brainstorm with a whole group, ask for examples of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs motivators in advertising. Ask for explanations as well. You can issue several glossy magazines and/or show videos, or simply ask for examples. Here are some pointers: 1. Biological and Physiological needs - wife/child-abuse helplines, social security benefits, Samaritans, roadside recovery. 2. Safety needs - home security products (alarms, etc), house an contents insurance, life assurance, schools. 3. Belongingness and Love needs - dating and match-making services, chat-lines, clubs and membership societies, MacDonald, 'family' themes like the old style Oxo stock cube ads. 4. Esteem needs - cosmetics, fast cars, home improvements, furniture, fashion clothes, drinks, lifestyle products and services. 5. Self-Actualization needs - Open University, and that's about it; little else in mainstream media because only 2% of population are self-actualizes, so they don't constitute a very big part of the mainstream market.

organizational modelling (to prompt thought and debate about organizational structure and communications)
Split the group into threes or fours. Issue each team with a good quantity of components from a particular toy construction kit (Lego, Stickle Bricks, K'nex, or similar - each team need not have the same as each other). The task for each team is to create a model which represents the organization that they work for, including other parts of the organization relevant to service delivery or product manufacture. The models require thought and discussion about structure, relationships, departments, co-operation, dependencies, isolation, etc., which can then be reviewed by the whole group when complete. It's a very enjoyable exercise, illuminating for all, and an ideal prompt to debate and develop solutions for improving organizational effectiveness, systems and communications.

agenda wall (barriers to team working)


This exercise illustrates the importance of having a clear collective aim for any group, and how poorly a team or organization functions when individuals (or teams within the whole) have different aims within it. The parameters of the exercise can easily be changed according to group numbers. For large groups create pairs or threes to work

together. Issue the group a box of toy building blocks, such as Lego, with various different bricks (colour, length, features, etc). The group task is to build a wall of certain dimensions (you as the facilitator state height and width according to time and group numbers). Issue each group member (or pair or threesome) with their own 'hidden agenda', which they must keep secret and try to achieve. The hidden agendas can be anything that conflicts with other hidden agendas, which will create conflict while the main task of building the wall is under way. Check that each hidden agenda is possible, albeit at the expense of other agendas. Here are some examples of hidden agendas to issue. It's easy to think of others when you have all the bricks in front of you. 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 one row contains only single blocks (no doubles or trebles etc) ensure every row contains at least one double-block brick (Adapted from a suggestion by Ruth Fradenburg)

fun and games with video (for team building and any other subjects)
Video is a great team building and training medium if you use it creatively - not off-the-shelf stuff which rarely works for specific situations. Instead use home-recorded video to provide you with unlimited interesting subject matter for exercises, role-plays and reviews, it's much more fun. For instance - record on video some scenes with a suitable number of characters (relative to your team sizes) from famous TV soaps (especially amusing ones with amusing characters). Then have two teams recreate the scene(s) incorporating your own key messages or products. Alternatively have the teams critique the behaviour according to the theme or message of your session. Using brainstorming before a review or critique session is a great way to establish a common approach and understanding towards the points for review and why. This saves you as the facilitator having to do a lot of detailed preparation on the points to review - get the team doing it instead as they'll learn more that way. A proforma tool which will help you and the team establish and then refer to the points for review is available by email free here.

Also, video some TV adverts (good and bad) and have each team critique them, brainstorm first the points you want to look for and review, eg., the AIDCA format (see acronyms), image, style, relevance to target audience, likely effectiveness or otherwise, 'feel', etc. Also, video some scenes from the TV show 'The Office' or another show featuring inept workplace behaviour (the funnier and worse the better) and have teams critique the behaviour from different aspects, eg Action Centered Leadership, Tannenbaum and Schmidt, motivation (eg. XY/Herzberg) leadership, culture, quality, Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Transactional Analysis, etc. Make sure you establish the review points and then use a review sheet to focus on, to manage and get the best out of the review or critique session. Using video in this way creates a lot of fun and interest for any team building or training session - there's so much you can do with this approach, and it's simple and very inexpensive.

variables and values (negotiation game)


Two teams - have each team identify as many tradable variables (concessions - real and perceived) that exist within your product/service offering. You can extent the exercise by asking the teams next to give real and perceived values to each concession. Also to identify actual costs to your organization for each. You can award a prize to the member of each member of the winning team, and maybe a special prize to whoever thinks up the best variable with the lowest cost and highest perceived value.

sweet traders (negotiation game)


Teams of three - each given an equal amount (as many as you like) of at least six different types of sweets and/or chocolate snack bars wrapped preferable or things get a bit sticky - each type of sweet has a value (eg 1pt, 2 pts, 3 pts, 4 pts, etc.). Devise a complicated scoring system - something that really makes people think and has many different possible winning combinations, Eg., bonus points for sets of all one sort. Bonus points for collections containing one of each, two of each, three of each, etc., bonus points for biggest collection compared to other teams, etc. Teams must trade with each other to collect the highest value collection. The purpose is to illustrate need for planning and trading, and continual search for new ideas and agreements. See how enthusiastically people plan and how actively they trade - imagine if this dynamism were applied to business.... (Eating the sweets during the exercise is strictly forbidden and carries a penalty of 1 million points)

pit (negotiation game)


The trading card game - based on collecting a set of the same sort of cards - normally based on the commodities exchange - wheat, barley, rye etc., If you can get hold of the game itself do try it, instead but you can base the game cards on anything, even your own products. Cards need plain backs so value/type can be hidden during trading. Individuals or teams of three (better). You need 8-12 cards of as many types as there are teams or individuals (Eg if you have six teams, you'll need six sets of cards, say ten of each = 60 cards total. The game needs at least five separate playing individuals or teams. Shuffle cards and distribute evenly. Players swap cards blind (by shouting how many they wish to swap - not showing or revealing what type of cards they wish to swap or acquire) - equal quantities of the same sort of card for each trade, which produces chaotic and enjoyable trading as players hold cards aloft shouting 'two, two,' or 'three, three', etc, (being the number of cards they are wishing to swap). Winner is first team to collect all same cards. Illustrates principle of trading, rather than simply giving away (concessions, discounts, etc). Also demonstrates enthusiasm and determination, which hopefully can be applied to business. Teams will sometimes cheat - swapping cards of different varieties. Use this point to illustrate importance of integrity - teams and players will be reluctant to trade with people who cheat.

bop it (communications, team building, warm-ups, etc)


'Bop-it Extreme' is a terrific hand-held game that was primarily designed as a children's toy, but it's great fun and extremely challenging for grown-ups too. You hold it like a steering wheel and wait for the robotic voice to shout instructions, to 'flick it', 'twist it', 'spin it', 'pull it', or 'bop it', while a rhythmic drum beat marks the time allowed. If you get it wrong or are late, it tells you how many times you got it right - it speeds up so the challenge never ends. Bop-it Extreme is great for team warm-ups, and for contests between individuals or

teams, and for demonstrating how the brain doesn't always do what you want it to, especially under pressure. It's available from any big toystore and various online suppliers. Cost around 20 or $30. It's utterly addictive so beware...

bidding game
Announce to two or more people that you will auction a 20 note to the highest bidder. The only rule is that the unsuccessful lowest bidder will have to pay you their bid. The bidders will start off low - maybe at just a penny or two. As they progress higher the awful trap starts to emerge - but there is nothing they can do about it: no-one wants to lose and have to pay a few pounds and watch someone else get the prize for a lot less than it's worth. And so it goes. Eventually you see (if they haven't run away) the ludicrous spectacle of people bidding higher than the face value of the note. Of course, the only winning first bid (and this is a good lesson on greed in any aspect of life) is 19.99... (thanks Rupert Stubbs)

silent touch (listening skills, communications)


If you want something a bit different, here's a great quick one for highlighting and developing non-verbal awareness. Each delegate does this in turn: One person (the 'touchee') stands against a wall facing it. The rest of the group, one by one, walks up to the person, places a hand on their shoulder and says their name (the toucher's name not the touchee). The person being touched must not look around to see the toucher. Then repeat the exercise using a different order for the touchers, this time without saying their names (you may need to point to people to control the order). The person being touched has to use their various senses more acutely to guess the identity of each toucher (the 'feel' of the shoulder-touch, maybe smell, the sound of the approach, etc.) You must explain to the whole group the whole exercise before it starts. You must instruct everyone not to disguise the spoken touch or the silent touch. The 'winner' is the person who guesses most of the silent touches, which means you need to keep a tally of each 'touchee's' correct silent guesses.

Review and discuss only after everyone has had their turn as the 'touchee', otherwise clues will surface and benefit the later touchees. When reviewing you can refer people to brain types and styles, and particularly right-side brain strengths, which generally enable greater sensitivity and awareness for this type of exercise. See the Benziger theory. (Thanks Chris Baker)

nail puzzle (team building, problem solving, lateral thinking)


This fantastic puzzle makes a great quick warm-up or teaser for a whole group or for teams to solve. Details on the puzzles page. Also a great puzzle for reinforcing any idea or training that involves a theme of 'nailing' something or 'hitting the nail on the head' - ie emphasising the need to be very specific.

memory exercises (team building, questioning, information gathering)


Show a picture for a minute with lots going on in it - big comic book cartoons are ideal - and then ask different questions about what was in the picture (eg what animal was to the left of the camel?, what colour was the teacher's tie?, etc). A great variation on this is to have each team to think of a certain number of questions to ask the other teams. Teams get points for correct answers and for other teams failing to answer. Put about 20-30 household items on a tray and let people memorise them for a minute, then have them jot down all they can remember within a time-limit, say 5 minutes. Draw some geometric/coloured shapes and do the same as above. Do the same with long numbers.

speed games (team building, mental ability)


Traditional games 'speed versions' - time-limit draughts (chequers) points for pieces captured, speed chess - the winner is one to achieve check-mate or take most pieces (different pieces are worth different points) within a time limit. 'Connect-4' and 'Mastermind' colour or number versions work well too. These are all great mental challenge games that can be played by individuals or teams, and against the clock if you introduce a suitable scoring system.

sycamore seed game (creativity, team building, problem solving)


Design and demonstrate a 'wing' or 'spinner' which stays in the air for the longest time when dropped from a specified height (a sycamore seed is a great example to show after the exercise to demonstrate a lateral thinking approach). Issue just a small sheet of paper. Teams of three or pairs are best. Alternative version is to make a paper aeroplane which glides the furthest from a specified height, with or without push start (depends on room size). Time allowed can be as little as 3 minutes, but it's better with 10-15 so that it brings in a planning element.

the paper girder (team building, planning, organizing, creativity, problem solving)
Using one sheet of A4 paper and an item issued for a weight (eg a small coin), make the longest horizontal extension from the edge of the table, to support a paper-clip at its end (attached or hung within the final inch of the end of the girder). The measurement will be the horizontal distance from the tip of the girder to the table edge. Scissors, knives or moistening the paper are not allowed. Teams of three are ideal. Again, time allowed can be as little as 3 minutes, but it's better with 10-15 mins to bring in a planning element.

playing card sorting (team building, planning, organizing, creativity, problem solving)
Issue one, two or even three packs of cards to each team (teams of three best). Mix up all the cards in each team's pack(s). Aim is to sort into packs and suits fastest (display face up on table). Be aware that if packs are of different designs you will need to state whether these need sorting too, which obviously increases difficulty. Teams of three and upwards. Great for organization, especially if large team sizes are possible.

bigger team building games and exercises clay islands (team-building, teamworking, planning, negotiation inter-

personal skills, creativity, problemsolving and more)


A wonderful hands-on team exercise that takes people way outside their normal work comfort zones. It's always different, is full of learning and development, and always a lot of fun. Group sizes of 6-8 people work well, 8 is ideal. Smaller group sizes of 3-5 will work, but produce less team dynamics and inter-action than with larger groups. It's best with three or more groups, but possible with two. Issue each team with a football-sized lump of clay (the type used for making pottery, available from craft and educational suppliers), and a suitable flat board or tray on which to work. Clay modelling implements are optional. The task for each group is to create an island, which the groups themselves are to imagine they inhabit, which they will model with the clay. Instruct the groups that for the first two parts of the exercise the members within each group are to not allowed to speak to each other. Give 10 minutes for the first two 'silent' parts of the exercise: 1. Ask the groups to create the geographical features of the island e.g. cliffs, rivers, inlets/harbours, mountains etc. 2. Ask them to create shelter for themselves individually eg., a house, a cave, a mansion, a hut. After these two activities have been done in silence, allow the members of each group to speak within their own group while creating their own island 'community', which can be scheduled to go on for 1530 minutes. Suggest elements that need to be discussed and established as to how their island operates and what constitutes the 'community' (some of which may be modeled, others not) such as health care, education, commerce, defence, food production, transport, infrastructure, governing structure, decision-making process, etc - all to be discussed and developed by the group. The group is of course the 'ruling council' for their own island, and they have the opportunity to define how they will work together, including issues of leadership and decision-making, etc. Observing all of this experiential development produces excellent data for review afterwards with the group, and is particularly useful for training and development concerning gender, leadership styles, decision-making, personality types, team-working, etc. After a further 15-30 minutes tell them there are other islands (they'll probably know of course, but hitherto will not have given a thought to any islands other than their own). Tell them that they are not obliged or required to do anything about the other islands - it's up to each group what they do. Typically the groups will want to take action of some sort, whether to trade, attack, make friends - whatever.

Again this leads to all kinds of experiences within the group and between groups, which should be noted by the facilitator(s) for use later in the review. The exercise needs to be given a finish time or it could go on indefinitely. There is no winner and no stipulated objectives for individuals, groups, islands - it's meant to be very open, which enables the relationships, cultures, systems and styles, etc., to develop very freely. The review can be conducted in various ways - group presentations, individual presentations, group discussion, personal experiences 'felt' by people; focus on certain headings: leadership, decision-making, communications within and outside of the island groups, good planning, bad planning, issues of morality and integrity, island cultures; the list obviously is very long, and the extent to which groups are focused on these issues before and during the exercise is flexible and up to the facilitator. Using clay is messy, so make sure people have aprons and somewhere to wash. The use of such an unusual material provides excellent motivation and interest - working with clay is a very 'earthy' and basic activity and people do not often have the chance to play with it. It does add another dimension. This exercise works particularly well as an evening activity on a residential course. As a guide, allow at least an hour for the exercise and 30 minutes for the review - obviously longer if it involves presentations. Typically younger people take less time, but whoever is doing it, if the exercise is providing useful learning experience keep it going. The facilitator should look especially for the development of relationships in the island communities, and how these affect the relationships between the islands. Leaders and styles emerge, which can all be discussed in the review. The exercise can be used with all ages and in all situations, whether for, business, organizational, educational, or behavioural development. (Ack Judith Jenner)

mini-business project game


Games activities with a real ongoing business purpose - like the website challenge below - are ideal for training and developing people over a period of a few weeks or months. The focus should be the products/services that the company offers or are within strategic intention/capability to do so. Using a series of mini-business projects as a basis for the 'games' gives the organization some serious businessrelated output, as well as developing the delegates' behaviour and skills (creativity, research, planning, finance, negotiation, selling,

design, contracts, buying, management, etc). This type of project based activity also develops a strong feeling of involvement and responsibility among the delegates. As an alternative to creating a new website business , which is an exciting project for most people (see the website challenge below), delegates can instead be tasked to establish a new distributor or retail outlet, or a new product line, as a basis for the 'game' activity. The 'game' is essentially to conceptualise and then implement a mini NPD or new business project. Mentoring, coaching, liaison with other departments are important support elements during project set-up and as the projects unfold. There are also potentially big additional benefits for the organization in building bridges between interested departments - marketing, finance, IT, etc - while parameters are established and projects develop. Terms of reference need to be clearly agreed, and adequate consultation and approvals are essential. The business and training benefits can be huge.

website challenge (team building, creativity, commercial skills, financial skills, planning and organizing, technology, presentation, communicating, etc)
Needs to run over several weeks or months. Great for interdepartmental or regional competition. Challenge is for the teams to each set up a real website and achieve the highest traffic to beat the other teams (need to issue some money or allocate a budget - not much - you don't need much for this - and need to establish clear parameters). You can introduce lots of variations and complexities depending on how far you want to take it. You can stipulate the product/service area or leave as open as you wish.

stranded - the team building survival game


You can use this type of exercise with various scenarios for teams/groups of between 3 and 15 people: desert island, jungle, etc. It's also great to use in group selections for recruiting staff, when the interviewing panel observe the efforts, abilities and attitudes of the participants. Here's a mountain survival scenario exercise. It's a very flexible theme provided you avoid the requirement to establish a definitive correct list of items - there's no definitive 'right answer'; there are other reasons

for this too. It's best not to have a definitive list of items as recommended by experts - what's important is for the group to see the benefit of group discussion and collective expertise, experience and input, which produces a generally accepted better list of items than anyone's individual list. The risk in referring to a supposed definitive 'right answer' list is that: it focuses too much attention on the outcome rather than the process, it causes participants to guess what they think the facilitator thinks, as if it's a trick question, and it can undermine the credibility of the exercise and the facilitator when inevitably someone in the group, or worse still, the entire group disagrees with the 'right answer', as is likely with any hypothetical scenario. Position the exercise like this: After your small light aircraft crashes, your group, wearing business/leisure clothing, is stranded on a forested mountain in appalling winter weather (snow covered, sub-freezing conditions), anything between 50 and 200 miles from civilisation (you are not sure of your whereabouts, and radio contact was lost one hour before you crashed, so the search operation has no precise idea of your location either). The plane is about to burst into flames and you have a few moments to gather some items. Aside from the clothes you are wearing which does not include coats, you have no other items. It is possible that you may be within mobile phone signal range, but unlikely. (Other than these facts, he session facilitator may clarify particular questions from the group(s) as to details of the circumstances and the environment, and these details remain constant for the duration of the exercise. Other details may simply not be known - it's at the facilitator's discretion.) Your (the group's) aim is to survive as a group until rescued. From the following list choose just ten items that you would take from the plane, after which it and everything inside is destroyed by fire. First you have five-ten minutes (flexible, this is up to the facilitator) by yourself to consider and draw up your own individual list of what the team should have, without consulting with other members of the group. Retain this list after presenting it briefly to the group. Then you have 30-45 minutes (up to the facilitator) as a group to discuss and agree a list on behalf of the group. Nominate a spokesperson and present this new list. With the facilitator's help, the group(s) afterwards then reviews the benefits of discussion, teamwork, collective expertise, group communication skills, etc., in the team approach to compiling the list, compared to each individual working alone to establish a list, and

obviously why the team list is likely to be better than each of the individual lists. Choose ten from the following - splitting or only taking part of items is not permitted (again the list and number of permitted items is flexible to suit the facilitators and situation requirements. This is a long list and will provoke an enormous amount of debate. To run a quicker exercise definitely reduce the list or delegates will feel rushed.) Pack of 6 boxes x 50 matches. Roll of polythene sheeting 3m x 2m 1 crate of beer (12 litres in total) 1 bottle of brandy 1 crate of bottled spring water (twelve litres in total) Small toolbox containing hammer, screwdriver set, adjustable wrench, hacksaw and large pen-knife. Box of distress signal flares. Small basic first-aid kit containing plasters, bandages, antiseptic ointment, small pair of scissors and pain-killer tablets. Tri-band mobile phone with infrared port and battery halfcharged. Clockwork transistor radio. Gallon container full of fresh water. Box of 36 x 50gm chocolate bars. Shovel. Short hand-held axe. Hand-gun with magazine of 20 rounds. 20m of 200kg nylon rope. Box of 24 x 20gm bags of peanuts. Bag of 10 mixed daily newspapers. Box of tissues. Bag of 20 fresh apples. Electronic calculator. Laptop computer with infrared port, modem, unknown software and data, and unknown battery life. Inflatable 4-person life-raft. Compass. Large full Aerosol can of insect killer spray. Small half-full aerosol can of air freshener spray. Notebook and pencil. Box of size 8 women's promotional pink 'Barbie' branded fleecelined track-suits (quantity is half of each team/group size). Gift hamper containing half-bottle champagne, large tin of luxury biscuits, box of 6 mince pies, 50gm tin of caviar without a ringpull, a 300gm tin of ham without a ring-pull, and a 500gm christmas pudding. Travelling games compendium containing chess, backgammon and draughts.

Sewing kit. Whistle. Torch with a set of spare batteries. Box of 50 night-light 6hr candles. Bag of 6 large blankets.

cotton reel cars (team building, planning, organizing, creativity)


Teams need an hour or two to do this justice, so it's great for an evening exercise when there's an overnight stay. Give each team a set of materials - the more the better within reason (the exercise becomes more complex and longer lasting with more materials). Materials could be anything that could be used to make a small car - for example: shoe box or egg box, wooden kebab skewers, sticky tape, stapler, some wheels - from Lego or Meccano or cotton reels, plus the basic drive-unit components, (ie at least one cotton reel, a couple of matchsticks and at least one rubber band - and if you don't know how to make a cottonreel 'tank' see the exercise below). The objective is to build a selfpropelled (rubber-band-powered) car that goes fastest, or covers the greatest distance, or both - it's up to the facilitator. The exercise climaxes with a race/competition in the bar in the evening. (The exercise has the feel of Robot Wars or Scrapheap Challenge, if you've seen either on the TV.) A variation on this theme is simply to issue each team with a box of mixed vegetables - fresh not frozen please - (eg., cucumber is good for a chassis; sliced carrots make reasonable wheels) and some cocktail sticks, and there being no obvious vegetable-based drive-unit, each vegetable car must be launched from a slope. The furthest distance is the winner.

cotton reel tanks (team building, planning, organizing, creativity)


You may remember making these as a child. This is a great exercise for teams of three or pairs, competing against each other. Materials required per team - 1 cotton reel, any size over about 3 cms diameter and 3 cms length. 1 rubber band the same length (cut and tied if necessary) as the cotton reel. At least two match sticks (or cocktail sticks or wooden barbecue skewers). A wax crayon or candle. Sellotape or stapler. Construction - Thread the rubber band through the reel and anchor the loop around a stick, which must be cut so as not to protrude wider than the edge of the reel. Fix the stick in place to the end of the reel with a

staple or Sellotape. Cover the opposite end of the reel and inside the edge of the hole with plenty of wax for lubrication. Insert a second stick, which should be at least an inch - better 2-3 inches - longer than the diameter of the end of the reel, though the loop of the rubber band and then 'wind up' the rubber band using the stick, until it is pulled flat against the waxed end of the reel. Put the reel on the floor and watch it go... slowly. Then spend the next twenty years trying to find the perfect specification! Some people cut notches in the rims of the reels to create a cog effect for better grip. Different lengths and thicknesses of rubber bands are an important variable affecting performance and stability. Wax is essential - it won't work without it. The type and length of stick - other than the one used at the fixed end - also affects performance. The challenge can be a race, distance travelled or obstacle course, whatever you like. As the facilitator, ensure you practice it first and establish clear rules about the aim (what the tanks have to do when they've been made) and the quantity of materials available.

design a game (creativity, team building)


One of the best activities (and particularly to develop problemsolving/analytical skills) is to actually set the group the task of designing the activities or games themselves. You can mix it up any way you want, for example, split group into syndicates of threes and give them different games or activities to design (communications, team building, problem-solving etc), which all syndicates will then have to do. Ensure everyone understands the criteria for designing development activities - brainstorm them to establish clear understanding of the aims and parameters with the group is a good starting point. These main criteria can then act as the assessment criteria for each syndicate to assess the activity designs of their peers. To add extra interest and fun you can give each of the groups some props and limit their designs to using the props, eg paper, scissors, string, dice, building bricks, some newspapers and magazines, cottonreels, a bucket of water or two, blindfolds, foreign language dictionary, video cameras, anything. Introduce other rules and constraints - must be outdoors/indoors, must be a ten minute exercise, 20 minutes, whatever.

treasure hunts (team building, determination, organizing, problem solving)

There's no better activity for team building than a well-planned 'treasure hunt'. Treasure hunts can be based on solving clues or finding things, or a mixture. Teams have a set amount of time to collect a list of items from the hotel/office complex/local vicinity - eg a restaurant menu with a fish dish on it, a box of matches with a phone number with a seven in it, an acorn, a brochure with a yacht in it, a sports programme with green grass pictured in it, etc etc. This is fantastic fun and a supreme leveller. Obviously ensure participants are warned not to do anything illegal or anti-social. Great for evening exercises for overnight stays. If you are planning a big event for more than twenty people or so, it's essential that the facilitator goes to the location in advance, so that you can sort out the clues and the route and ensure it all works. It's easy when you're there. It's possible to think up a certain amount remotely, but the best clues will be specific local ones - that you must be able to rely on - something of this scale must be planned and tested at the location. Do some basic preparation remotely before you go there (start point, finish venue, rough area and route) and then spend a day there to find/create the specifics, design the whole thing, and be sure that it will all work in practice. Logistics (getting people from A to B) and timings (how long will it take the first and last to complete) are crucial. Timings are always difficult to predict - be aware that tourist venues are very busy in the Summer, which will affect how quickly people can complete it and the ease with people can all meet up along the way and at the finish. If it's an overnight event, how you design the event will also depend on where you're all staying and what you want to do before and after the treasure hunt. Ideally you don't want to have to worry about bussing people to and from the hunt, so ideally people should be staying where the hunt is and all together. If it's for the evening avoid any necessity for car-driving - it's too risky - on foot is much more fun, people can walk for miles without complaining provided there's not too far between stops for clues - the exercise helps too - maybe have them catch a bus at most, but no driving at night. The local tourist information office and library are always a useful reference points for ideas about a basic route, best area, plus contact numbers etc. If you're happy with drinking and can trust people not to be daft than basing the treasure hunt on pubs works well - pubs will offer good potential for clues, a route and lots of fun, subject to your view on alcohol playing a part. Definitely plan an organized gathering for the end of the treasure hunt where you can give prizes and relax as a group, particularly if the treasure hunt is in the evening. The finish venue needs to be reliable and under your control - you don't want everyone to be finally meeting up amongst hundreds of strangers.

For a large group of people it's best to have a few marshals along the route to help the lost and tardy. Teams of four, five, or six at most, work best - the bigger the team the quicker they solve the clues, although teams of seven would be too big and result in one or two being left out. Teams of five sounds are good. Think about your team building priorities - if it's to improve interdepartmental team-working then create inter-departmental teams; if you want to build stronger relationships within departments create departmental teams. If you've got gender, race or hierarchy barriers to break down, mix the teams accordingly. Try to mix the clues so they require different skills and knowledge, which will enable everyone in each team to shine - some clues very cryptic, some require observation, some historical, some technical, some mathematical, some requiring good persuasive or investigative skills, and always preferably with a local location reference/ingredient. Whatever you do, remember planning is vital.

mime act (creativity, team building, organizing, presentation skills, and lots more)
Groups have a set time to get/make costumes and mime a performance of a song, especially something with theatrical potential like Bohemian Rhapsody, or Stairway To Heaven - the more extravagant or camp the better - props can be begged borrowed or otherwise purloined, and the whole thing climaxes with a show when each group performs their mime act. Fantastic leveller, great fun, normally hilarious. Great to video and enjoy afterwards. House rules are absolutely necessary to avoid serious inconvenience to hotel or conference centre.

sports challenge series (team building, organizing, determination, physical ability, and lots more)
Each team can nominate a sport or game (in local house rules) in which it challenges the other teams. Agree a common weighted scoring system and run it like a weekly or monthly league. Be very careful and clear on the rules and scoring. Sports can be anything from softball on the park to chess and stud poker. League updates and prizes and trophies increase the buzz.

communication corridor (team building, communicating, physical activity, problem solving, listening skills and more)
Here's a great one for a conference warm-up. Great for communications too. Have two rooms with a corridor separating them the further away the better. Teams of three. Each team has a 'builder' with a set of building bricks or a construction kit in each room, and a runner between the rooms. In only one room do the builders have the instructions for what they're building. As they build, the runners have to run and explain to the other builder in the other room what is being built and how. Winning team is first with a correctly assembled construction in each room.

problem-solving tasks
Get the book on lateral thinking puzzles featured on this website at the businessballs online bookshop page. In it you'll find loads of really great lateral thinking problems you can use - ideally for syndicates of three - give them four or five at a time.

problem solving treasure hunt


Give teams of three a list of challenges and a timescale - anything from an hour to a week or two - even a month, depending on complexity and type of problem. Great for overnight stays, and can be integrated with normal treasure hunt for obscure items. Examples of challenges: Translate a passage of writing or verse from an obscure foreign language into English; Negotiate the best possible deal for the whole group to visit somewhere interesting and maybe a bit exclusive a sports event, the opera, the zoo, etc. (Need to clarify house rules on dates timings etc, and that the booking should be provisional.); give them a real problem from your own organization; give them a real problem from the local council or from the newspapers.

the 'in-tray' time management exercise (time management, decision making, delegation)

Issue the teams (or have them bring) a typical in-tray of correspondence. Their task is to decide how and when to deal with each, and then to present their answers to the group. Get the group to observe and critique the answers. Things to look out for: First assess all items and prioritise them (most won't do this, they'll just deal with them in the order they appear) Treat urgent items differently from important ones (most think they're the same) Only handling each item once (ie procrastination or deferring is a no-no) Opportunities to delegate (tips on the businessballs delegation page) Decision-making (tips on the businessballs decision-making page) Communication method and style in responding to memos, requests, complaints etc (most spend too long writing too much hand-written notes often suffice - email is useful - but recognise potential major hazards and make/agree time to deal with them properly) Avoiding making unnecessary work for oneself (most make mountains out of molehills) Using the phone to deal with sensitive communications/relationships issues (most are frightened, so write or delay, which costs more time and problems) Saying No when called for, and justifying why it's No. Make sure the sample in-tray material is a good mix of issues, otherwise there's no challenge and people won't see the need for different responses. If you can't be sure that people will bring suitable material provide it yourself. Best of all is to get your hands on copies of someone's in-tray who is forever complaining he/she's got no time.

newspaper towers (team building, planning, organizing, problem solving, time management, creativity, lateral thinking)
Lots of variations to this one. Adjust to suit group and time available. Basic exercise: Split group into pairs or threes (four or more will create 'passengers', who don't get involved). Issue each group an equal given of newspaper sheets (the fewer the more difficult, 20-30 sheets is fine for a 10-15 minute exercise), and a roll of Sellotape (Scotch tape in the US). Task

is to construct the tallest free-standing tower made only of newspaper and Sellotape in allotted time. Point of the exercise is to demonstrate importance of planning (time, method of construction, creativity), and the motivational effect of a team task. Facilitator will need tape measure. Instructions need to be very clear (for instance does tower have to be free standing at completion of time, or can it be measured before - it doesn't matter which, it matters only that any issues affecting a clear result are clarified.

newspaper bridge (team building, planning, organizing, problem solving, time management, creativity, lateral thinking)
Again, lots of variations to this. Great for reinforcing communications, support, interdepartmental co-operation themes. In teams (threes are best; teams of four or five can create 'passengers' unless you brief clearly for everyone to be involved and/or have each team appoint a team leader) using only the newspaper and Sellotape (alternatively known as scotch tape) issued, each team must construct a bridge, including floor-standing supports at each end and a horizontal span. The winning construction will be the one with the longest span between two floor-standing supports. If any additional floor-standing support is created, qualifying span measurement will be the longest length between any two of the floor-standing supports. There must be at least (say) 20cms clearance between the span and the floor. Any of the span lower than 20cms clearance will not count towards the measurement. The span must support certain objects issued (eg apple, chocolate bar, can of drink - consumable items are more fun) which must be placed (not fixed with Sellotape) on the span. The objects can be positioned anywhere along the length of the span, but must not touch the floor-standing supports. The floor-standing supports must be free-standing, ie not attached to the floor or any other object or surface. The use of Sellotape as 'guys' from the bridge to the floor or another object or surface is not allowed. Time allowed for planning and building and placing objects on the span is say 20 (max 45) minutes. Variations to tower and bridge games: Tower must support an object (eg a lemon, book, brick, plastic beaker of water, etc). Measurement is taken to height of supported object. If you issue an object to be supported at the top of a tower consider the well-being of the flooring and furniture. Beware safety and mess implications of certain objects, so avoid cups of coffee, glasses, etc. Build a newspaper and tape bridge between two tables, to support the greatest weight (number of given objects).

Build the highest platform to support a person's weight, using only newspaper and tape - make sure there's plenty of newspaper for this version, ie, three big newspapers for each team. (Bear in mind that a platform is still a platform if it's only an inch high, although platforms of a few inches are perfectly feasible.) Build the longest horizontal pier from a table top, supported with newspaper struts or not.

tips on newspaper constructions exercises:


Building tips: It doesn't matter how big the sheets are, but big double pages offer the greatest scope for the towers. Think about how much paper is issued as it changes the type of challenge: lots of paper makes it much easier and places less emphasis on planning. Very few sheets, or even just one sheet, increases the requirement for planning. The main trick for the bridge and tower exercises (don't tell the delegates before the exercise) is to make long thin round-section struts, by rolling the sheets and fixing with sticky tape - Sellotape or scotch tape, or narrow masking tape instead. The struts can then be connected using various techniques, rather like girders. The same construction approach works well for the bridge too. Round struts (tubes), and any other design of struts or sections, lose virtually all their strength if flattened or bent. Very few newspaper exercise builders understand this fundamental point, and some fail to realise it even after completing the exercise, so it's worth pointing out during the review. Square sections are not very strong. Triangular or circular sections work best, although the former are difficult to make. It's possible to make a very tall tower (8-10 feet) using a telescopic design, which requires many sheets to be stuck together end-to-end, rolling together and then pulling out from the centre. Most people make the mistake of forming big square section lengths or spans, which are inherently very weak and unstable. This is why the newspaper constructions are such good exercises - each one needs thinking about and planning and testing or people fall into traps and make simple mistakes. The strongest design for weight-bearing is 'building blocks' of hexagonal tubes (six sides). This is the shape that naturally results if lots of circular tubes are compressed sideways together, and it's also the shape found in nature's beehive construction. Hexagonal tubes are difficult to make though and

it's unlikely that people will think to do it. It's useful to make up a few samples to demonstrate in the review how strong the hexagonal construction is. Less strong, but quicker is to make is lots of short rolled circular tubes, up to six inches high - make sure there's enough paper for the teams when using the human weight-bearing platform exercise. Grouping the tubes together, stood on their ends and placing sufficient sheets on top to spread the person's weight usually is the easiest way to complete this exercise to a winning standard. Alternatively, roll up lots of solid cylinders, again a few inches long. Grouped and fixed together on their ends these make an immensely strong platform. The best way of finding answers is to try it - you should be doing that anyway if you are facilitating and running the session - you'll be amazed at how strong paper can be if it's folded and/or rolled and assembled with a bit of thought. The weight bearing platform will only be a few inches high we're not expecting to get someone up to the ceiling. If all else fails, if you think about it, at it's simplest a team member could simply stand on all of their allotted sheets of paper. It'll only be a few millimetres high, but it's still a platform. All of these exercises are generally tackled best by making the 'building block' elements, whether struts or tubes or any other shapes. And this emphasises one of the big lessons from the exercises - planning, and testing (time and materials permitting) are essential.

juggling (right-side brain, warm-up, team building, physical activity and lots more)
Juggling is a powerful warm-up and training aid. It's extremely flexible for training and team building, from a 10 minute warm up to a continuous activity over a few days. You'll need to learn the three-ball cascade first - it's easy - just follow the juggling instructions on this site. To use as a ten minute warm-up, give a summary of the instructions, then issue juggling items. Loosely 5-10% of people can already juggle, and others soon pick it up. Emphasise that everyone can do it provided they go through the proper learning process. Short warm ups can also be done in pairs, using three balls or bags (or lemons or potatoes depending on budget!). Pairs can stand side by side or face to face, but should only use one hand each. One person

holds two and starts. The second person throws their ball before catching the ball thrown by their partner. And so on.. To use juggling as an activity to inter-weave with a training course or workshop, break down the juggling instructions and sessions to one ball, then two balls, then three balls. Link to training themes as appropriate (lots of training naturally breaks down into threes, so it fits well). Use any existing jugglers in the group to help coach other delegates, or issue them with four balls and have them learn to juggle four (basically two balls in each hand, not crossing hand to hand, thrown alternately), or issue them with clubs. For more information about juggling four balls and clubs please contact us. Juggling equipment is expensive in the specialist retail outlets, use trade sources instead. Typically you'll get 'Tri-its' pyramid bean bags at 1.50 ($2) for three. Proper juggling balls are more expensive, 3-5 ($4-7) for three, but the extra cost is worth it if you want to print on them to reinforcing a theme or brand, because people keep them. For details of corporate juggling products, or specialised juggling support/facilitation please contact us.

plate spinning (right-side brain, warm-up, team building, physical activity and lots more)
Plate spinning is a great exercise for team building and for warming up delegates for training sessions and conferences. A plate spinning set comprises a plastic plate and a 'wand' - a plastic rod with a point at one end. You can obtain these from a juggling equipment trade supplier for about 1-2 ($1.50-3.00) per set - shop around for the best deal and contact us if you need help. It's easy to teach yourself, which you must do before you try to teach others! It's possible to pass a spinning plate from one person to another using the wands, and this gives lots of possibilities for team races. Plates, like juggling balls, can be branded to support themes, training messages or product launches, etc. They're also cheap enough to give away without denting the budget. People will ask for spares for their kids, so make sure you have plenty. Look at the how to spin a plate page for plate spinning instructions.

diabolo (right-side brain, warm-up, team building, physical activity and lots more)

The diabolo is another great street performer's skill that you can use for team building and training activities. The diabolo set comprises a diabolo 'reel' and two sticks, connected at each end by a length of string. Expect to pay around 5-10 per set depending on the quality and size of diabolo. The diabolo is easy to get started and then to do some basic tricks - throwing up in the air and catching again for instance, after which the diabolo requires quite a demanding level of skill to progress to the more advanced tricks. For instructions how to use and teach the diabolo look at the diabolo instructions on this website.

devil stick (right-side brain, warm-up, team building, physical activity and lots more)
The devil stick is a fantastic piece of equipment, again used by street entertainers the world over. The devil stick set comprises three parts: the devil stick itself, which is a rounded wooden stick, about two feet long, two inches wide at each end, with a taper from each end to a middle 'waist' of about an inch diameter. The other parts are two wooden dowel controlling rods, each sleeved with rubber for grip, about a half-inch in diameter. For instructions how to use and teach the devil stick look at the devil stick instructions on this website.

yoyo (right-side brain, warm-up, team building, physical activity and lots more)
Yoyos are cheap and easy, and great fun. The new style clutch yoyos are now available for less than 1 or a dollar due to over-production in the Far East, so shop around. Start by teaching people how to position the string properly on the yoyo and the finger, then simply making the yoyo go up and down in a controlled way. Next increase difficulty to spinning the yoyo on its clutch (the yoyo stays spinning at the bottom of the string given a fast throw), and then graduate to tricks like 'walking the dog'. Lots more tricks can be demonstrated and taught if you have time. Most yoyos will have instructions on the packaging make sure you learn the basics yourself before you try teaching others or using yoyos in a warm-up or games activity.

levitron (team building, organizing, lateral thinking, skills development)

The Levitron is without doubt one of the most incredible toys ever invented - it's a small precision spinning-top that with the aid of a repelling magnetic base and special weights, actually stays spinning suspended in mid-air, for two or three minutes. And the Levitron is all the more amazing for the fact that hardly anyone has ever heard about it. It was launched about 1995, but has never really achieved wide distribution. The Levitron is a great product for team games, training and reinforcing concepts about quality, accuracy, patience, the brain, all sorts. For more information about the Levitron please contact us. The use of levitron for team building games and business exercises is restricted only by your imagination - here are some ideas to get you started: in pairs or groups of 3 - a race to spin first. in teams of 4 or more - a race to spin first with each team member only able to handle a stipulated number of items (eg coloured washers, rubber washer, wedges, the top itself, the perspex plate, the base, etc) - a leader must be elected who allocates responsibilities after a stipulated time to assess abilities. Option to change responsibilities after stipulated periods. in pairs or groups of 3 - longest spin time competition. (Can increase team size and add responsibility requirements as above.) teams of 3 - use levitron instead of construction kits with communication corridor exercise. in teams of 3-5 - create the most spectacular levitron tricks and demonstration using items and materials in the training room. in teams 3-5 - write a training plan to teach someone how to use the levitron. in teams of 5 - role-play the training plan with an individual from the team who does not know how to use it (1 trainee, plus all other team members to have a training duty within the training plan). in teams of 3 - play with the levitron then create an advert for the levitron for the educational physics market. De-brief and review according to the exercises selected and the local situation and people, abilities, training or team-building purpose, etc. The best way to create a framework for de-brief is to brainstorm the

headings before the exercise with the whole group - this also helps people get the best out of the exercise, because they are aware of the pointers.

workshops
running workshops for motivation, teambuilding and improving performance
Workshops combine training, development, team-building, communications, motivation and planning. Participation and involvement of staff increases the sense of ownership and empowerment, and facilitates the development of organisations and individuals. Workshops are effective in managing change and achieving improvement, and particularly the creation of initiatives, plans, process and actions to achieve particular business and organisational aims. Workshops are also great for breaking down barriers, improving communications inside and outside of departments, and integrating staff after acquisition or merger. Workshops are particularly effective for (CRM) customer relationship management development. The best and most constructive motivational teambuilding format is a workshop, or better still series of workshops, focusing on the people's key priorities and personal responsibilities/interest areas, which hopefully will strongly overlap with business and departmental aims too. Workshops can be integrated within regular monthly team meetings - an amazing amount of motivation progress and productivity can be accomplished with just a 90 mins workshop per month. Workshop facilitation by a team leader or manager develops leadership, and workshops achieve strong focus on business aims among team members. Workshops are very effective for training too - workshops encourage buy-in and involvement more than conventional training courses because they are necessarily participative, and the content and output are created by the delegates. Also, the relationship between workshop facilitator or workshop presenter and delegates is participative, whereas a 'trainer' is often perceived as detached, and the training material 'not invented here'. There are many workshop format variations - here's a basic workshop format: Prior to workshop session identify via consultation the aim/opportunity area to be addressed (business task aims, team, and individual aims/needs - refer to action centred leadership if unclear about balancing these needs).

Set suitable date and venue for meeting and issue agenda, with verbal explanation/reassurance if necessary - see running meetings. At start of workshop, introduce aim and process - agree expectations - answer queries. (5 mins) Brainstorm the ideas and opportunities with the whole group flip chart is best - see brainstorming. (10-20 mins) Split the group into pairs or threes (more usually creates passengers) and ask them to come up with outline actions/initiatives/plans to achieve agreed purpose/aim. (20-30 mins) Have groups present back their ideas - review and praise positives aspects in each, and gently agree areas which would benefit from improvement/refining. (max 5 mins per group) Then task and agree for groups or individuals to refine outline plans into clear objectives (refer to SMARTER principles), during the workshop, or afterwards to be fed back to manager, which can then be followed up and coached during implementation. Follow up, coach, encourage, support and invite ideas for future workshop items and process improvements.

See also the guidelines for team building games and exercises, the free team building games, the free SWOT analysis template and examples, and the free PEST analysis template, which can all help in running successful workshops. For help with facilitating workshops please get in touch - ac at alanchapman dot com

free team building games training ideas and tips


free team building games ideas and theory for employee motivation, training and development
Here are techniques, theory and ideas for designing and using your own team building games, exercises and activities, and the free team

building games, exercises and activities available in this site (below and here). Team building games, exercises and activities help build teams, develop employee motivation, improve communications and are fun - for corporate organizations, groups, childrens development and even kids parties. Team building games, exercises and activities also warm up meetings, improve training, and liven up conferences. These free team building games ideas and rules will help you design and use games and exercises for training sessions, meetings, workshops, seminars or conferences, for adults, young people and children, in work, education or for clubs and social activities. Team building games, exercises and activities can also enhance business projects, giving specific business outputs and organizational benefits. We cannot accept responsibility for any liability which arises from the use of any of these free team building ideas or games - please see the disclaimer notice below. Always ensure that you have proper insurance in place for all team building games activities, and take extra care when working with younger people, children and organising kids party games.

workshops format and how to run motivational, development and teambuilding workshops - here. free team building games, exercises, activities and ideas (for kids and childrens party games too) are now here. see also the free puzzles and tricks - ideal for team building exercises.

team building games and activity tips

Practise the team building exercise yourself first to check that it works, check timings, materials, and to ensure you have all the answers. Anticipation and planning are vital. Make sure all team building games instructions are clear and complete - essential for keeping control and credibility.

Become proficient yourself first with any team building games or equipment that you use. Always have spare materials and equipment to allow for more people, breakages and the inevitable requests for freebie items ("Can I take a couple home for my kids?...") Take extra care when organising teambuilding activities and games for young people, especially kids activities and childrens party games.

tips for quick games and exercises for warm-ups and team building
First of all - use your imagination - you can simplify, adapt, shorten and lengthen most games and exercises. To turn a long complex game into a quick activity or warm-up, scale down the materials, shorten the time allowed, and make the exercise easier. Most of the games on the free games page can also be used for children's education and development, and for kids party games - adapt them to suit. The number of members per team affects activity time and complexity teams of four or more need a leader and tend to take longer than a pair or team of three. Increasing or reducing team size, and introducing or removing the team-leader requirement, are simple ideas for increasing or reducing game complexity and exercise duration. Whatever you choose, as the facilitator, practice it yourself first so you anticipate all the possible confusions, and so that you have a good idea of how best to do it (you'll generally be asked by the delegates after the exercise). Think carefully about team sizes - pairs or teams of three are best for short 'construction' exercises, unless you want a leadership element in the game. Without a leader, too many team members causes non-participation and chaos, so avoid this (unless the purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate why teams need leadership). For a quick game any newspaper construction exercises in pairs is good - if people have done the exercise before add an extra challenge aspect to make it different (maybe give each team a banana to support on top of the construction and/or limit the team to just 2 or three sheets of paper, or ban the use of sticky tape) - whatever, if you have a slot of 20 mins, allow 10 minutes for the exercise so as not to rush the introductory explanation or the review. Don't forget a tape measure, and practice it yourself to try to come up with an ideal solution for when they ask at the review. Alternatively pick three or four lateral thinking puzzles and split the group into two teams. Larger teams are fine for quizzes because

teamworking is less crucial. Giving a tight deadline will encourage the teams to share out the puzzles, which emphasises leadership, communication and use of skills and resources. Think about the points that the exercise are illustrating so you can review afterwards sensibly.

tips for working with syndicate groups for team building or training
Team building games and training exercises work better using syndicate groups, or teams. This is particularly so if you want a competitive element, which is very effective in building teams and team spirit. Working with syndicates also encourages and enables more participation, activity and ideas, and managed well, it makes the trainer's or facilitator's job easier. Using syndicates in team building needs thought and planning - here are some pointers: think about what you are trying to achieve and structure the teams accordingly. always plan in advance how you intend to structure the syndicates. threes work best when you want everyone to be involved. pairs ensures everyone is involved, and generally work quicker than threes, but are less dynamic than threes. groups above threes will require a leader to emerge or people will be left out. groups of four or five are good for providing the opportunity for leaders to emerge. groups of six or more require quite competent leadership skills within the group. ensure clear instructions are given to each sydicate, and these are best given in writing as well. more pressure is put on the team if only one set of instructions is given - less pressure results from giving each team member a copy of the task instructions. the best number of team members to achieve a certain effect will vary according to each exercise or game or activity. you can change or keep the make-up of the syndicates as you change exercises, depending on the precise team building and relationship aims. some people are not comfortable being in the same team or group as their subordinates or manager.

you have the option to nominate individuals to perform certain functions within the team, eg time-keeping, leading, scribe (recording), communicating, etc. ensure syndicates have necessary equipmant and materials, depending on format - eg flip chart paper, pens, laptop, acetates. ensure suitable space and working area exists for the number and size of syndicates you plan to work with.

train the trainer team building ideas


The job of training managers and trainers how to run team building sessions is different to running a team-building session per se. It's important that delegates experience the effect of different types of team building, and also and the effect of the many variables which might apply (team numbers, mix, location etc); different types of games and exercises and their purpose (games, quizzes, competitions, warm-ups, exercises, workshops, etc), and the theory surrounding team building and designing team building activities (personality and psychometrics; leadership; communications; planning and preparation; follow-up; stress, fun and physical activity; etc).

team building variables


team mix (age, job type, department, gender, seniority, etc) team numbers (one to a hundred or more, pairs and threes, leadership issues) exercise briefing and instructions - how difficult you make the task, how full the instructions and clues are games or exercise duration competitions and prizes venue and logistics - room size and availability (for break-out sessions etc) materials provided or available stipulation of team member roles - eg., team leader, timekeeper, scribe (note-taker), reviewer/presenter scoring, and whether the exercise is part of an ongoing competition or team league

With a full day or more it's very useful to include something on personality types and how this affects teams, style of management required, learning styles (eg Kolb, VAK, etc). If you use psychometrics

in your organization, if possible expose delegates to the testing and theory - it's interesting and a great basis for absorbing the issues. It also adds a bit of hard theory to the inevitable other soft content. Ongoing competitions are excellent for team building, but If you are training the trainers don't run a competition through the whole day mix up the teams from time to time to show how team dynamics can be changed and the effect of doing so. Also demonstrate how games take on a different meaning if numbers are changed (eg larger teams require leadership or there'll be passengers; and, you can play the same game with 3 and 6 people and it completely alters the conduct and outcomes). Change and demonstrate gender and age mixes also - team mix is a crucial area of understanding. Use a mixture of games to cover different logistical and environmental constraints - small room, large room, syndicate rooms, outdoors. Include a mixture of games to develop different skills and aspects within team building - leadership, co-operation, communication, breaking down barriers, planning, time-management, etc. Ask the delegates (in syndicates) to design their own games to meet specific scenarios. As well as the ideas, look at all the variables: clarity of instructions, timings, team numbers and mix, logistics, venue requirements, etc. Outdoors, use traditional games like rounders, cricket, touch rugby, relay races, to demonstrate the big team dynamics, and the physical exercise effect - stress reduction, endorphins and neuro-transmitters, etc. Also cover 'workshops' and how to plan and run them - practical sessions dealing with real business issues, with real content and real action-based outcomes, including the team-building effect - use a real business issue as an example. This would also require some presession preparation and coached and measurable follow-up, which are also extremely useful and under-used mechanisms.

free team building games, exercises, activities and ideas are now here. free puzzles for team quizzes. free guide to running teambuilding workshops.