Lessons from the Amygdala Hijack
Building Trust at Work with special guest Charles Feltman -- Leadership Skills TeleSeminar

How does a teambuilding game relate to a job?

I recently received the following email:

I reviewed the Bandanna--Cup--Marble game and thought it was ok, however I was at a loss to understand this part of the task

'What metaphorically is the bandanna, cup, marble, and table relative to your job in this organization?  I gave the groups 15 minutes to create a presentation, which they would be giving to the other groups.  The group loved the activity and loved the discussion as well as the presentations from the other small groups"

What was achieved here and what were the answers, I am struggling to understand how inanimate objects can be related to a job??

Is it related to learning, experience, training

Please could you elaborate

Here's my response...

Dear (name withheld),

You wrote:

"I am struggling to understand how inanimate objects can be related to a job??"

People learn through the experience of the game.

The debrief session (processing the game with the group) helps people assign meaning to the game in a way that moves the team forward.

An example:

John Wooden is one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.  Coach Wooden talks at great length about how the game of basketball is a training ground for the "game" of life.  Wooden was famous for using the game of basketball to teach life lessons.

There is a GREAT documentary called "The Heart of the Game" which tells the story of a college professor who coaches a girls high school basketball team as a side job.  The coach uses the game to teach life lessons to the girls. 

Similarly, a team can use the bandana-cup-marble game to learn life lessons (team skills, leadership skills, etc.).

What does the game of basketball have to do with real life?  Nothing.  Unless the facilitator (coach) draws the connection.

What does the bandana-cup-marble game have to do with real life?  Nothing.  Unless the facilitator (trainer, supervisor, manager, etc.) draws the connection.

When people are fully engaged in the learning process they are more likely to learn at a deeper level.  Teambuilding exercises (games) help people more fully engage (intellectually, emotionally, physically) in the learning process.  The game becomes a story and our job as Teamwork Facilitators is to help the team assign an empowering meaning to that story.


Bob Espo

Zooming in on the possible metaphors feels a bit directive and scope-limiting. Perhaps a broader set of open questions. E.g.: Ask the group to describe how well they succeeded with the task. What was easy? What was challenging for them? How did they address their challenges? What approaches, resources, strategies did they use? Changes in thinking along the way? How does tackling this task echo experiences they have of working with this team in the real world? Are there learnings and insights that showed up here they would like to incorporate into their own teamwork? Etc. Essentially, my point is to let THEM supply the MEANINGS that emerge for them, individually at first, and collectively on reflection.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)