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Can You Make it with Dominos?

Communication Skills Exercise: Make it with Dominos


Purpose

This exercise helps delegates to understand the importance of feedback in communications and realize why the lack of it can be so frustrating for both sides. By working together towards a common goal, delegates will learn to be patient, pay attention to details and of course use feedback.

Objective

Teams to replicate a particular domino configuration based on the given instructions with and without feedback.

What You Need

  • A set of dominos. Make sure you have enough dominos for the number of diagrams used.
  • Copies of domino diagrams. You need to prepare these before the course. The easiest way to obtain them is to place dominos on a table and take photos of them and give the delegates a printout. You can alternatively use the diagrams provided below.
  • You need one diagram and one envelop per 4 delegates. Put each diagram into an envelope.

Setup

  • Divide participants into pairs.
  • Assign one pair to another.
  • If the numbers don’t match, you can use 3 people in some groups.
  • Ask two pairs to decide which pair wants to be the “Describer” and which wants to be the “Achiever”. They will be set against each other.
  • Get the pairs to get separated from each other preferably with a partition.
  • If this is not possible, get them to sit with their backs to each other.
  • Distribute the envelopes containing unique domino diagrams to “Describers” and the dominos to “Achievers”.
  • Explain that there are two parts in this exercise.

PART I:

  • Ask the “Describers” to explain the diagram to the “Achievers”.
  • “Achievers” must replicate the dominos the same way as it is shown in the diagram.
  • “Achievers” are not allowed to look at the diagram.
  • “Describers” must be careful not to show the diagram to “Achievers”.
  • “Achievers” can’t ask questions or get any feedback from “Describers”
  • Give the groups 5 minutes for this task.
  • When the time is up, ask everyone to look at the diagrams and compare their designs. There will be lots of laughter.

PART II:

  • Collect the diagrams and shuffle them.
  • For this exercise, teams must swap roles.
  • Distribute the diagrams to the delegates making sure the same pairs don’t get the same diagram as the last exercise.
  • Follow with the same physical setup where “Achievers” are not allowed to see the diagrams.
  • This time, the “Achievers” are allowed to receive feedback. They can ask questions and then correct their design based on the feedback they receive from the “Describers”.
  • Allow 5 minutes.
  • After the allocated time, get all the groups to compare their achievements with the designs.
  • Follow with a discussion.

Timing

Explaining the Test: 10 minutes.

Activity: 5 minutes for exercise & 5 minutes for comparison for each part => 20 minutes

Group Feedback: 15 minutes.

Discussion

Were the results in the second exercise better than the first one? How did feedback help to get better results? How can you apply this to workplace situations? What is the effect of clear instructions, versus clear instructions plus feedback? Which one is more important to focus on; giving clear instructions or giving and receiving feedback? How can you achieve both?

 

Example Domino Patterns

Dominos pattern 1

Dominos pattern 2