Team Building Activity: You’re the Expert!

Posted by Kristin Arnold on August 5, 2013

Use this unique activity with groups of 3 people to creatively demonstrate the power of teamwork versus an individual’s work. The exercise requires 10 minutes.

You will need:

  • A universally familiar object, such as a telephone, coin, currency, company insignia, etc.  (I like to use a telephone/cell phone)
  • Easel chart
  • Paper
  • Pens

Start with a space large enough for the team to sit in a U-shape or circle see the easel. Introduce this activity as a way to demonstrate the power of team work.

Before you get started, make sure the object is not accessible to the team members (e.g., ask everyone to hide the cellular phones).

Ask if there is anyone in the room who uses a telephone. Ask them if they would consider themselves to be a frequent user, or “expert” on using a specific object (such as a telephone)?

Draw the outline of the object (e.g., twelve “buttons”) on an easel chart in front of the room. Ask each person to individually fill in the object (e.g., numbers and the letters on the telephone keypad).

After a few minutes, ask the team to break into groups of three to make a group agreement on the specifics of the object (e.g., numbers and letters on the telephone keypad).

While the groups are contemplating the answer, fill in the object (e.g., numbers and letters) on the easel chart, out of sight of the groups.

After the groups are done, expose the easel chart to the team.

Debrief and Summarize
After all have seen the “answer” and compared their work to the “answer,” debrief the activity:

  • Which did better? The individual or group? (Most of the time, the group has a better answer. Every once in a while, an individual has a better answer – this is called “process loss” where those great ideas were not integrated to the larger team).
  • How did the team come up with a better answer? What process did you use?
  • How can we replicate this in our team?
  • How can we guard against process loss?

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

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