Optimize 
!

With this energizer you ask the team to pass the ball around as quickly as possible, with at least two people touching the ball before any individual touches the ball again. It gets increasingly complicated and requires a lot of communication and strategy…

Outcome:

To show the group/team that it’s possible to optimize and perform much more efficient than first expected with some creativity, ingenuity and forgetting the rules and making new ones.

DETAILS
  • Group Size: 11+
  • Time: 11-30 mins
  • Props: Yes
Details
  • Category: C/T/R
  • Type: Physical
  • Video: No
PROPS
  • Balls
    3 per group – Any kind of smaller ball will do (tennis ball, ping pong ball, baseball etc).
VIDEO

No video is available for this energizer.

Description

Setting it up:

This energizer and game revolve around passing a ball through a group of people in a special order. This is best suited for groups of 6-10 people. If your group is larger, simply split them up and turn this into a game.

The group is given a ball which they, as quickly as possible, have to pass between everyone in the group TWICE. The same person can’t touch the ball again, before two others have touched it first.

So, A can pass it to B who passes it to C, who returns it to A, then B, then C. In this example of course, it’s only three people. Your group will be larger and thus more complex.

Have the teams lay a strategy for how it’s to be done, discuss the best way to do it. Once they’re ready, time it. See how fast they can do it. Have them optimize and do it again. If you have several teams, time them too and compare with the other teams. To add some competition to it, have the team call out when they’ve completed the round, to add pressure on the other teams.

When they have things under control, twist things around a little. Introduce a second ball. Explain that the same rules apply, only this time they need to get two balls passed around twice to everyone.

Let them rework their strategy and have them try once more. Again, time them.

Keep challenging them to do it faster. There’s a very good chance that they find a strategy where everyone knows exactly who to pass the ball to, doing it in an order where there are no bottlenecks. This of course is all good and fine. As said, keep challenging them to optimize on the time.

In the end, tell them that you would like to introduce a third ball, and that just like before it has to be passed around, everyone having each ball twice, and never touch the same ball before two other people in the group have touched it first – This time however, they can’t take longer than 5 seconds to do it…

 

This is most likely impossible with the way they’ve set things up at this point. They’re quick, but likely not THAT quick. They’ll have to rethink how to increase the difficulty of the task while decreasing the time they have to solve it – That’s the point!

Solution:

All the participants will position themselves so that they can place their hands right next to each other in the order the ball has to move between participants. They’ll make a “ski slope” of hands, in a light angle downwards so a ball can roll from the top to the bottom touching all the hands in the correct order.

Example: 5 people would hold their hands like this: 

·         Person A (left hand) 

·         Person B (left hand) 

·         Person C (left hand)

·         Person D (left hand) 

·         Person E  (left hand)

·         Person A (right hand)

·         Person B (right hand)

·         Person C (right hand)

·         Person D (right hand)

·         Person E (right hand)

 

Then simply have person A let go of the ball(s) and have them roll over their hands.

Competition/Rules:

While the rules of this have already been explained, the competition part might need a few pointers. “Time” the teams. While it’s not really needed to time them for the final solution (either they have it or they don’t, and the final solution will take less than a second so no real point in timing that) you could time them for the attempts building up to it, just to challenge them and let them know they ARE in fact being timed.

Facilitation:

Does this sound familiar in comparison to many dilemmas in companies? Optimizing, increasing production while downsizing? The question about how to do this often arises. Often as manager you face employees getting discouraged by the mere thought that change is coming.

This exercise shines a light on the fact that it IS possible, with creativity and by changing the rules as we thought they were, to change our methods to optimize.

Have them reflect on workflows from their everyday, where rethinking the way it’s done could increase output and perhaps even decrease the time it takes.

Make sure to increase the difficulty as they go along. Don’t ever let them rest thinking they’ve done what needed to be done. Up until the actual solution, they’re only optimizing slightly, changing as the scenario changes (something which is indeed and of course is a good thing!). But keep an eye on their progress, then keep throwing curve balls in there until they’re so much under pressure that they MUST develop the right solution.

Facilitation notes:

If you find that they’re not feeling pressured enough, stop them and give them 1 minute to figure out a solution to pass the ball between everyone’s left and right hand but with X people between left and right hand touching it. In other words, FORCE them to think up the correct solution.

About Us

After years of experience with thousands of participants at conferences, meetings, sales training, kick-offs and much more, we’ve decided to share some of our experiences and tools on the internet, to help battle dull meetings and help presenters, trainers, teachers, managers and more, to give more powerful and engaging sessions/meetings etc.

Win the Crowd!

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