Tangled Mess

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Timing: 15 mins, plus court time


  • People and space
  • 1 stop watch per team
  • Video camera
  • Corporate Lawyer


Each team selects a manager. Then, standing in a circle, the rest of the team members are asked to hold hands with others that are not directly adjacent to them. Each person should be holding hands with two different people, forming a tangled mess. The team must then untangle themselves by following the instructions of the manager. None of the other team members are allowed to talk. Record the time it takes to untangle. Repeat the process, but this time remove the manager and let the team untangle themselves through communication and collaboration. Record the time; it should be faster.

Then try untangling in silence, and see what happens.

Be wary of team members taking advantage of the situation, and filing a sexual harassment lawsuit for the inevitable groping that will occur. It might be a good idea to videotape the exercise, to facilitate ensuing depositions.

Learning Points:

  • Trusting and empowering the team is quite often the most effective solution.
  • Some team members will intentionally take advantage of the situation, invariably destroying the very trust that these exercises should be building. Take note of the alacrity with which these team members contact their lawyers.

Posted by Mike

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3 Responses to "Tangled Mess"
  • Stephan reindl December 11, 2011 at 5:35 am

    I find this game very exciting. I play it with ropes instead. Hold N ropes (2 N ends) together. Each one grabs 2 ends, then step back. The ropes allow for more flexibility and decrease unwanted physical proximity.

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  • Curtis Palmer March 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I like the ropes idea @Stephan… I have used twine where the group faces inward and randomly paces the twine from person to person making a bit of a knot. You idea solves the issue I encountered where there were some people more knotted up than others. Thanks for the great suggestion!

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  • Kat Lim Ruiz July 20, 2017 at 4:46 am

    When u remove the manager, then the team can talk? Or they still should remain silent?

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
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