Serious fun

60 ideas from 16 people in response to 20 challenges in 45 minutes.

Next time you want a group to collaborate, try a People Sized Board Game.

It’s high impact but low-fi. You just need some floor space, masking tape and a list of challenges on the topic. Better still, ask the group to come up with the challenges. They are content experts in their field after all.

The rules are simple and everyone follows them, because it’s a game.

Winning is the object but fast is not necessarily best. Taking the time to think through solutions to the challenges trumps speed. Teams must pitch their written response to coaches who can send them back to the board to try again. Just like the barriers and push backs we experience in real life.  

If a coach gives the thumbs up, the team leap frogs ahead of the next team. So, the fastest team is not necessarily going to win. A team that takes a little longer working through the challenge together could end up the winner.  

Apart from having fun and feeling good if you win, what’s the benefit?

  • It’s an invigorating circuit breaker when people are stuck and can’t see the wood for the trees.

  • No one dominates because teams rotate through the roles. Teams quickly self-manage this, and the coaches keep an eye on things.

  • Swapping roles also makes everyone listen just a little more deeply.

  • Teams rapidly see that they’ll leap frog faster if they draw on their collective experience and wisdom. No one member has all the answers.

  • People have to think on their feet – just like in real life.

  • Experiencing the innovation that comes from safety in numbers. People really do try out new things, because they have each other’s back.

  • Players get insights on their own levels of collaborative maturity – “I was so competitive!” – and what they might need to work on.

  • Groups leave with a packed list of practical strategies and ideas to help them grapple with some of the challenges facing a team, company, sector or profession.

  • And nobody gets the dreaded after lunch fade.

Players in our session also really appreciated plenty of time to reflect after the game and share insights, both about the content and the process of collaborating.

It’s interesting that having to work together seemed to build trust. I thought you had to have trust to collaborate.

The real-world content gave the game meaning.

We were so focused, a well-oiled machine – and we’d only just met.

By the end of the game I felt like we knew each other really well, and we hadn’t even done introductions.

We came up with stuff I would have never have thought of on my own.

I can’t wait to try this with my own team!

I’m not suggesting that complex problems can be solved in a board game. But it’s a great way to experience the collaborative mindset and exercise collaborative muscles to be prepared for the complex challenges we face.

I experienced the People Sized Board Game with hosts Holly Hammond and India Prior from Plan to Win. It was so good, that I decided to share the magic with co-facilitator, Kathlin Mayer. Hats off to the creator Karen Ridd.

I adapted it easily for the group we worked with last week. I’d love to hear how you might put it to use and please get in touch if you’d like a hand. Have fun!

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Helen Keller.