Team building requires exercising collaboration in challenging scenarios

This bridge building exercise will help your team understand and practice how to improve collaboration while building a bridge together. 

The exercise includes a couple of constraints to challenge the team. The purpose of the exercise is not just building a bridge but reflecting on how the team deals with obstacles and communication. 

materials for a collaboration exercise building a bridge

 

What?

Two groups will get together to build a bridge with random materials. Each group will make half of the bridge (the left or right side) but won’t be able to see what the other group is doing.

They must rely on verbal communication to collaborate with each other. 

two teams building a bridge with a whiteboard in the middle

 

How?

Building materials: blocks, Jenga pieces, Legos, chopsticks, marshmallows,  tape, paper, pens, cardboard, etc.

Before you start this collaboration exercise, divide teams into two subgroups (4-6 participants each). 

Each subgroup will focus on building one side of the bridge (left or right). 

Put two rectangle tables together and insert a rolling whiteboard or similar in between the two, so the subgroups CAN’T see what their partners are doing. 

Everyone gets the same amount and type of materials. 

Let all teams start at once. Give them 30-50 minutes for building their bridge. Don’t assign time for planning/ design–let them figure it out.

Once time is up, remove the whiteboards, and the groups need to bring their parts together to form a bridge. They can’t modify anything at this point.

Review and take pictures of the finished bridges.

Debrief.

 

 

Coaching Tips

The end goal of the exercise is not the bridge but improving collaboration. 

Make sure people don’t get distracted with who built the nicer bridger. Of course, a little bit of competition always energizes people. 

During the debrief, discuss how they approached the challenge. What did the team focus on first? On defining collaboration, approach, and roles? Or on designing the bridge itself?

How did they approach the bridge-building exercise? How did the limitation (not seeing) help improve/ hinder communication?

How can they apply learnings to deal with everyday challenges?

two groups building a bridge at a workshop

 

Additional Reading

How to Liberate Innovation across Your Organization

Why Leaders Fall into the Collaboration Trap

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

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