Leadership Inspirations Activities

Pipeline

Team members move a marble down a line of pipes without the marble moving backwards or falling on the ground

Duration

20-30 minutes

Team Stage

Storming, Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Experiential Activity

Materials

Lengths Of Half Pipe Or Narrow Guttering, Marbles Or Balls (Also Water)

 

SUMMARY

This is a group problem solving and communication exercise where group members move a marble from one point to another using pipes. Requires a high level of communication and teamwork.

 

SET UP

  • Set a start and finish point using either rope, a bucket, or landmarks. Ensure that the distance from the start to finish point is longer than the total length of pipes held by team members.
  • Give each team member a piece of pipe.
  • Facilitator Note: As facilitator, you can control how hard or easy to make this task. You can take them over obstacles, down stairs, around trees, etc. If, for example, the group is in the forming stage, put only one minor obstacle in the path and create opportunity for fairly instant experiential success of teamwork. If the team is performing, make the obstacle course longer and harder and more physically challenging in order to deepen their experience of what they can achieve together.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Brief the participants on the start line and the finish point (a distinctive container is helpful).
  • The group must work together to deliver a marble down the pipes from start point to finish.
  • Give the group any extra rules you may wish to add to the task, such as:
    • Every person must carry the marble at least once,
    • The ball must always been in motion,
    • Participants need to take turns in a certain order; or
    • Both feet must remain on the floor at all times-get creative if you want to add challenge
  • Give the group the pipes and the marble and 5 minutes planning time (if necessary).
  • Allow the group several attempts if you have the time and they have the motivation, or keep it to one attempt and draw out the key points in the debrief.

VARIATIONS

  • Frame the activity in terms of a new project which the team needs to respond to both efficiently and effectively, for example: a new client with specific needs; a tender to be put together by a deadline; or a marketing strategy idea that needs to be put into action.
  • Challenge the group to see how fast they can get the marble through the obstacle course. Time the group, and ask them to guess how fast they think they can really do it. Then give them another go. Requires debriefing.
  • For added problem solving under pressure, do not give the pipes and marble to the group during planning time.
  • Can be done indoors with a height factor involved. Explain that the marble is stuck to a point on the wall with blue tack and their job is to ‘rescue’ it and bring it down safely to a container on the floor. Use the gutters more like a ramp, and perhaps give one less gutter than the distance. Once they are set up, allow the marble to be released from the blue tack.

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?

Accountability

  • Who are you currently accountable for as an individual and a group? Who holds you accountable?
  • What is effective accountability? Are our methods as a group effective?
  • What role do you play in your own accountability and the group accountability?

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?
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?