Mazes and Team Building

As part of a leadership course I am taking, we had an opportunity to use an electronic maze to illustrate some interesting points about team building.

The electric maze, or learning field, was a set of 48 squares arranged 6 x 8 embedded in a large floor mat. Each square was programmed to be ‘safe’ (off) or ‘alarmed’ (on).  Each of the two groups was allowed 10 minutes of strategy planning to set their tactics. The goals were to determine a safe path across the mat and then have each of the team members (6 in our case) cross the mat along the safe path. Team members were not allowed to talk after the 10 minute strategy session was complete. Each team was given an amount of ‘money’ which was used to pay for infractions such as stepping on an alarmed square, skipping a square or talking.

Playing the game itself was very enjoyable. Afterwards, it was interesting to reflect on the various assumptions and strategies of the different groups.

Success factors

  • team effort
  • observing
  • cooperation
  • remembering successes (correct moves)
  • remembering failures (additional learning)
  • assessing risk

Assumptions by some groups

  • the event was a competition
  • winning was the end goal (team members across and most money)

Reality Check

In fact, winning was not defined. The task was just assigned. In reflection, all groups realized that by working together the challenge could have been solved more easily if the groups worked together, collaborated and shared information and collective learning.

How often does the real life version of this event happen? How often do we miss opportunities to truly get something accomplished in an timely, efficient,  and perhaps more cost effective manner? Take the opportunity to analyze, plan work flow and  capitalize on the TOTAL resources available to deliver  a solid end result with a stronger team.

~ Mark