This is an entertaining and educational exercise for building teams and getting people to work together towards a common objective. You can explore a whole lot of topics on teamwork, leadership, communication skills and problem solving. Unlike many team building games that are competitive, this exercise is cooperative despite having two different teams assigned with different tasks. As a result, the setup allows people to have a good time while also learning how to work with each other towards a common objective. The exercise can be run just in theory as well, but it is best if it is actually implemented. For that, you would need to access an open area such as a park with a specific layout so it does not require planning and preparation on your side.
Land a golf ball as close as you can to a target area while not being able to see the target area and only relying on the communication you have with another team.
What You Need
- Tools provided:
- A flag pole which is not implanted yet
- Rope with any desirable length
- A shovel
- A pair of binoculars
- Golf balls, as many as desired
- Cord of a desirable length
- A4 colour papers
- A communication device that is capable of sending only two signals; “yes” and “no”. The system contains only two gadgets; one should be given to the golfer team and the other to the spotter team. You can simulate this using a walkie-talike, mobile phone call or instant messages on a mobile phone. If using mobile phones be careful not to allow any other types of communication (both to avoid extra communication and also distraction from the outside world). Maybe the most ideal is a simple app on two old phones that you can provide where they handle this specific communication across the internet (we leave this is a challenge for interested coders to implement).
- A ladder
- An open area such a park so you can have a hill between the target location and the place the golf ball is hit.
- Divide the delegates to two teams.
- Assign one team as the golfer and the other as the spotter.
- Explain that the objective of the golfer is to hit the golf ball to make it land in a particular target area and remain there. Consider the following:
- The target area cannot be seen as a hill blocks the view.
- The golfer wouldn’t even know where the target is to begin with.
- The golfer cannot move away from the original position, so the golfer should repeat hitting golf balls until they can get one (or more) golf ball as close as possible to the target area.
- The objective of the spotter team is to help the golfer hit the target by communicating with the golfer. The spotter team can be close to the target and observe the performance of the golfer so they can communicate this with them.
- The spotter team and the golfer team should come up with a communication system so they can successfully carry out this task. They can only use the tools provided to them as shown above.
- The target area is setup as follows. A flagpole is implanted at a desired target location. A circle with a specific radius is created around the flagpole using a rope.
- During the exercise, the members of the golfer and spotter team cannot talk to each other directly, use body language signals or mobile phones. They should only communicate with each other using only the tools provided.
- You can set the difficulty of the task by varying the following parameters:
- The size of the target area which is set by the radius of the rope circling the flagpole.
- The distance between the target area and the golfer.
- The size and height of the blocking hill.
- The number of times they should hit the target.
- The available time.
- Ask the delegates to set up the target area. Allocate 15 minutes for this.
- After setting up the target area and before starting the main exercise, expect both teams to work together to come up with a practical communication system. They should work together to solve the problem and be confident that they can implement it before they proceed. Make sure they are aware of all the parameters, such as how long they have to hit the target or how many times, so they can devise a communication system accordingly.
- Allocate about 30 minutes for this part.
- Next, ask each team to get into position and implement their plans. They should continue for a maximum of 30 minutes (or whatever the allocated time is) or when they have achieved the number of times they had to hit the target.
- Note that anyone in the golfer group can do the shots. It could be one or more people. It is entirely up to the team to decide.
- Once the objective has been achieved or if the groups ran out of time, stop the exercise and bring back everyone together.
- Follow with a discussion.
Explaining the Exercise: 10 minutes
Activity: 15 min setting up the target area + 30 min communication system + 30 min hitting target = 75 minutes
Group Feedback: 10 minutes
Did you succeed in this task? If yes, what led to your success? What do you think of your communication system? How easy was it to actually implement your plan? How did you manage the teamwork? Did you assign a team leader? Did your team leader assign specific roles so everyone knew what they were supposed to do? Was there communication failure among each team as not knowing what each person needed to do at each point? How did the team deal with any time pressures?
If you did not succeed, what do you think led to your failure? What would you do differently to improve your chances of success next time? What did you think of the other team’s performance?