Team Building Activity: Odyssey of the Mind

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 30, 2019

This is a great activity to encourage your team members to think beyond the conventional – to think creatively. It works in a group of five to 25 people and requires five to 20 minutes. You will need to have four to five various interesting household objects, such as an extension cord, unique cooking utensils, etc.

You will need a space large enough for team members to see each other. Introduce this activity as a way to challenge our creativity, similar to the “Odyssey of the Mind.” Ask if anyone is aware of the school program called “Odyssey of the Mind.” If no one volunteers, share the origins and purpose:

Sponsored by NASA, Odyssey of the Mind is a school program designed to foster creative thinking and problem-solving skills among students from kindergarten through college. Students solve problems with a variety of different tools. By encouraging children to solve problems in a creative and unique way, students learn lifelong skills such as working with others as a team, evaluating ideas, making decisions and creating solutions while developing self-confidence from their experiences (for more information, check out

Now that the team knows what Odyssey of the Mind is all about, encourage the team to think differently about the first object you have in your hand. For example, take an extension cord and wrap it up. It could be an extension cord (traditional thinking) or it could be a whip to beat eggs. Or it could be a lasso.

Tell the team to pass “whatever this is” around the room, and ask each to share what it could be. (Make it okay to pass if they don’t have an idea to share quickly. Otherwise, you can get bogged down.)

Hand the extension cord to the next person and ask them to think creatively and ask, “What could this be?”

When the extension cord has been passed to all team members, introduce one or two other objects.

Debrief and Summarize
After all have had a chance to participate, debrief the activity:

  • What inspired your creativity?
  • What made it difficult to be creative?
  • What can we do to encourage creativity on our team?

Inspired by Sally Holloway

If you like this activity, check out my book, Team Energizers, for 49 other team activities!


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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