The Day We Doubled Our Learning

It is no secret that we all love the continuous learning sessions at work and look forward to these sessions. But today, we were in for a double surprise. We were going to have two different sessions in place of one.

Happiness, fun, and learning doubled! One was an activity about teamwork and the other one an activity that tested leadership and team involvement. Both the activities were led by our Product Owner, Bhushan Patil.

Previously, Bhushan has led many activities, but this is the first time he was leading two team activities at a time. He wanted to take up this activity for the leadership and teamwork aspects of both games. Bhushan is fun-loving and a very friendly person – in fact, he can be friendly with anyone and everyone. He is also a real foodie.

The first activity was the Tennis Ball Team Builder Activity and had teamwork as its objective. The game was ideal for 5-12 people and took around 20-45 minutes for us to play. Though the team was big, we only needed one tennis ball.

Before we started the game, an observer was assigned to keep notes of team dynamics, time and to give directions to the participants. The entire activity was divided into two parts and the first part was named – The Process. Next, the entire group had to form a circle and the tennis ball was given to one person. Then came the rules, which are as below:

  • Everyone must receive the ball
  • We could not pass the ball to the person next to you
  • The ball must be returned to the person who started with it
  • The ball had to travel through air
  • The ball was not be rolled across surfaces, floors, walls, tables, or chairs

As the rules were announced and understood, the timekeeper announced time we took to understand the process. Now, that we were all clear about the process, it was time to move on the 2nd part of this activity – Creating the Product.

One unit of the product was 8 rounds of passing the ball in the correct sequence as per the above-mentioned rules. If anyone dropped the ball, the round had to start again.

As a team, we started creating the product with the timekeeper announcing the time taken to complete one product. As we finished one product, the timekeeper asked us to cut the time in half. And we repeating this till we could create the product in the least amount of time.

This activity was not just a great idea but also a great kick-off to a team meeting where one wanted to create an atmosphere of innovative thinking and teamwork. As the activity closed, the below questions were asked:

  • What roles did people play?
  • Did anyone emerge as a leader in the process?
  • What other roles evolved within the group?
  • How did you feel when you had to disband the process and try things differently?
  • When did you feel like it was okay to stop and be satisfied with the outcome?

The second activity was called Fishes and the Fishermen. It involved creating 2 groups each competing against the other. Ideally, an outdoor activity, we played it indoors. So the team took turns being the fishes and the fishermen. As the name suggests the fishermen had to catch the fishes in their net. The net here is a big circle that Team A made by holding each other’s hands high up in the air.

The fishes – that is Team B had to dart in and out of this fishermen circle in quick steps. But how? For this, the Team A had to decide on a number between 1 and 10 (and they had to do it secretly – the fishes were not to know about this number). As the fishes darted in and out, the Fishermen would count the numbers aloud and at the pre-decided number, they had to bring their hands down to net the fishes inside the circle. The activity was repeated till all the fishes were caught and the activity was repeated with Team B as the fishermen and Team A as the fishes.

The purpose of this activity was to understand who assumed the leadership when the number decision had to be made and how involved the team was in the decision making as well as in following the instructions to the T. As usual, the activities were inspiring and fun-filled though there was some confusion during Activity #2.

Then it was time to recount the lessons learned and the fun they had. Everyone enjoyed Activity #1 very much and learned about the importance of team coordination and teamwork. Though a little confusing (with the pre-decided number for which they had to lower their hands), Activity #2 also taught the team about the importance of leadership in a team (or the issues with multiple leaders trying to get the team to act). So that was not just learning that doubled, but the fun as well.

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