Leadership Inspirations Activities

Traffic Jam

Get out of the traffic jam by switching places with the other team

Duration

10-20 minutes

Team Stage

Storming, Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Experiential Activity

Materials

Gym Dots, Paper Plates, Or Pieces Of Paper

 

SUMMARY

The goal of this activity is to move into the line next to you, in reverse order, so that the people in the front of the line will be at the back of the opposite line, and the people in the back of the line will be at the front of the opposite line.

SET UP

  • This is a traffic jam with all participants in the left column in red cars and all participants in the right column in blue cars.
  • All cars are facing towards the pinnacle spot at the top (which starts as the empty spot).
  • Red cars cannot pass red cars but they can pass blue cars. Blue cars cannot pass blue cars but they can pass red cars.
  • It does not matter how many blue cars a red car passes and it does not matter how many red cars a blue car passes. They simply cannot pass cars of their own color.  Of course, while remaining SAFE and following the rules (only one person on a space at at time).
  • All cars will move forward and at the pinnacle spot they will make a U-turn (therefore they are still moving forward toward their final destination).
  • Red cars cannot be in the same row as another red car until one of the cars has reached its final destination (and vice versa).
  • It can be beneficial for the facilitator to mark participants as red cars or blue cars (you can do this with name tags written in red or blue or small red or blue stickers on their foreheads). This will help you keep track of whether or not they are following the rules.
  • Another possible tool is for the facilitator to track the group using post-it notes on a clipboard and move them as their corresponding participant moves.

Correct Answer

Incorrect Answer

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Divide groups into 8 – 10 (any bigger than this and it’s difficult, any smaller and it may be too easy).
  • Ask each person to take a space in a line, except for the single space at the head of the formation.
  • Rules:
    • You can only move forward (that is, toward your end spot).
    • Once you begin, you cannot stand in the same row as someone from your original line until you reach your end spot.
    • One person on a space at a time.
    • You cannot skip over someone in your line.
    • One person can move at a time.
    • If you make a mistake, or reach an impasse, you will be told and you will need to start over.

VARIATIONS

  • Give participants the first and last rules only.
    • If you do not give them all the rules in the beginning, the group will have the additional task of determining the remaining 4 rules through trial and error. This means that when they break a rule, you tell them they have broken a rule, and they need to restart.  This is a more difficult task, but once they get the essence of the rule, then they have figured out the rule. If necessary, you can process with them about what happened to break the rule. If they still don’t figure it out, it’s up to you how much help you give them to avoid breaking the rule again.
  • Give participants all of the rules.
    • If you give them all of the rules, you may have to repeat them throughout the activity. This allows you to tell them precisely which rule they have broken when they do so and have to start over.  Remember to repeat the rules EXACTLY the same each time to avoid confusion and participants challenging what you say.
  • Facilitator Notes: This decision depends on time and group dynamic. If you have a lot of time and a group that generally gets along well, then not giving them the rules may be successful. If you have limited time and a group that does not get along as well (or that needs to manage rules and consequences) then giving them the rules may be better.

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.?

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?

Teambuilding

  • When has your group worked well together in the past? When have they not worked well together?
  • When has (something that happened in the activity) happened in the past with your group?
  • What habits or actions make a successful or effective team? What does your group do well as a team? What are your group’s opportunities for growth when working together?
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?