Team Building Exercise: What Makes a Team Succeed or Fail

Team Building Exercise: What Makes a Team Succeed or Fail


This exercise helps delegates examine their teamwork and what makes it succeed or fail. It is powerful because rather than telling a team how they should behave you can ask them to evaluate their own success. Since they come up with the qualities themselves, they are more likely to be aware of these qualities and remember them in the future, which in turn will increase the chances of success for their teams.

You can run this exercise for delegates from the same team or those who have different teams.


Identify what leads to the success of a team and what leads to its failure.

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Flipchart


  • Divide the delegates to groups of 2 or 3.
  • Distribute two papers to each group.
  • Ask each group to write the following on top of each of their papers.
    • Questions A: “What are the three fundamental qualities that lead to the success of a team?”
    • Questions B: “What are the three fundamental features that lead to the failure of a team?”
  • Ask groups to brainstorm and answer the questions and write their suggestions on each corresponding paper.
  • Allocate 10 minutes for this part.
  • Bring everyone back together.
  • Ask groups to consider Question A.
  • Ask each group to read out their answers for Question A. Write their suggestions on a flipchart.
  • Continue with other groups until all groups have presented their answers.
  • Ignore repeated answers.
  • Distribute blank papers to all delegates.
  • Ask all delegates to choose their top three from the list on the flipchart and write it on their papers. This will constitute as their votes.
  • Collect the papers and count the votes to identify which three statements on the flipchart got most votes. Highlight three so it is clear which statement got the most votes.
  • Now move to Question B and repeat the exercise in the same way. Use a new flipchart sheet to record the statements.
  • First ask groups to share their answers and then distribute papers to collect votes and finally highlight the three statements on team failure.
  • Follow with a discussion.
  • You can optionally hang these flipcharts on walls for the duration of the course to act as a reminder.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 10 min group discussions + 5 min Question A presentations + 5 min votes for Questions A statements + 5 min Question B presentations + 5 min votes for Questions B statements= 30 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


Were you surprised by the final list of fundamental qualities that lead to success or failure of a team? Did other groups suggest areas that you did not consider in your brainstorming? What do you think about your own team in reference to these positive and negative qualities?

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