Leadership Inspirations Activities

Knot Not A Knot

Decide if the rope has a knot tied in it in the shortest amount of time

Duration

10-20 minutes

Team Stage

Storming, Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Experiential Activity

Materials

One Rope (75-100 Ft Long)

 

SUMMARY

The object of this activity is to CONCLUSIVELY determine if the rope has a knot tied in it AND they must make their decision in the least amount of time. Good luck!

 

SET UP

  • Prior to the group arriving, tie a loose knot in the middle of the rope (don’t tie a tight knot because it will be too easy for the group to see).
  • Pile the rope in such a way that the two ends of the rope are on top and on opposite sides.
  • Gather the group around the rope pile and give them the objective and rules.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • The object of this activity is to CONCLUSIVELY determine if the rope has a knot tied in it AND they must make their decision in the least amount of time.
  • No member of the team may touch the rope pile.
  • The group may request a “pull” from the facilitator whenever they choose. Each “pull” will result in two things: (1) the facilitator pulling an arms length of rope from BOTH ends of the rope pile and (2) adding 5 minutes to the final time.
  • Facilitator Notes
    • It’s important that the group understands the objective — they must CONCLUSIVELY determine if the rope has a knot tied in it AND they must make their decision in the least amount of time. These two requirements set up a “balancing act” that is the beauty of this activity. The group usually struggles over how to manage coming to a conclusion in the least amount of time. The group will almost always ask for several “pulls” so they can see what’s going on “inside” the pile of rope. Asking for a pull can result in added stress to the group because some will not want to have the time (5 minutes) added while others will feel that a “pull” is the only thing that will allow the group to make a conclusive decision.
    • When you do a ‘pull’ on the rope pile, you should do so carefully. Make sure you pull only the rope that needs to move. Pull one arms length of rope from each end of the rope pile.

VARIATIONS

  • “Table Top” version: Have people work in groups of 3. Supply each group with small diameter string (ex. kite string) rather than rope. A “pull” would only be inches long (rather than arms length). In this version you could have multiple groups working at one time. You would have to set up the strings in advance.
  • Consider giving the group play money. Set a price for each pull of rope (they must pay you). They are trying to do two things: keep as much money as they can AND conclusively determine whether there is a knot in the rope. If they make a correct determination about the rope in the given amount of time they get a monetary bonus (play money). If they are wrong, they must pay a big financial penalty.

SAMPLE DEBRIEFING QUESTIONS

What?
  • What was the goal of this activity?
  • Did your group do well? What could have improved?
  • How did your group make decisions? Was it effective or ineffective?
  • How did your group manage conflict that arose?
So What?

Alignment

  • Are we the only ones that define our purpose? What or who influences our purpose?
  • How do we communicate our purpose to new members or people outside of our group?
  • Why is it important that we all understand the purpose of our group/activity/etc.?

Feedback

  • Why is feedback important? What kind of feedback is important?
  • What does constructive/effective feedback look like?
  • How did positive/negative/or no feedback affect your success?

Group Dynamics

  • What are the traits that make someone successful on this team? What are the traits that make someone unsuccessful on this team?
  • What motivates our group?
  • How does our group dynamic affect the way we get work done?
Now What?
  • What does this activity tell you about the strengths of your group? The areas for improvement?
  • What’s one commitment each person can make?
  • What are three lessons the group has learned that they can continue to work on?
  • How can we implement these lessons in our school/organization?
  • What can you do differently moving forward?