Learning about group dynamics

To get our blood flowing again before another lecture in the Yurt we played a little game. Richard gave a sheet of paper to each of us to stand on in a random place in the Yurt. He put down one more paper which no one was standing on. Then he went on the other side of the room and explained to us that he would start walking towards the free piece of paper and try and touch it with his feet. We had to make sure someone would walk over and stand on it with both feet before he got there. We where not allowed to block him and he would time our attempts.
Then he left us to discuss our strategy. Essentially it is a very simple problem, but it took us quite a few attempts to protect him from touching the free paper for more than 7 seconds. We started by some people jumping on the paper randomly once he got close. That created a free paper where the person that moved jumped from. Then someone had to jump there. Since it was not coordinated at all it was easy for Richard to walk over because somebody would leave their paper right next to him.

During the discussions there where a lot of ideas and no real coordination of these ideas. People that screamed the loudest kind of got their ideas through to about half the group and some people just watched. Then the round would start and some people would implement their idea and others would do something else and it just didn’t work.
It became clear that we had a lot of trouble communicating effectively in the group. The people shouting might see one person nodding and acknowledging their idea and just assume everyone was in with them but roles where not defined. And other ideas where just not heard even if there might had have been a person that had already played the game before and known the solution but got overtuned by others shouting.

It would have been more sensible to gather in a circle in the beginning and calmly discuss a strategy. Maybe going around the circle asking people what they thought to be best and then voting on it or something similar. And it would be important that everyone is on the same page and clear about their role in the group.

It really was a nice way of highlighting a pattern we see in a way that we do a lot of things. Reactive, who shouts the loudest ways of managing processes, instead of taking time to plan and execute well. There was not even a time pressure in how long we where allowed to take to come up with a good solution and still we tried to hectically come up with something fast for a quick fix. We did not take the time to listen to everyone or plan out our ideas.

This small game really helped me think about how I interact with groups of people and how I can be more conscious about my role.

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