This is a game to let people experience the effects of different punishments/rewards systems have on the way a team works together. One team will be ‘The Team’ which is rewarded and punished on a team level and ‘The Individuals’ have a mix of team and individual rewards and punishments.
Timing: 20-45 minutes
Materials: Deck of Cards, rules instructions, paper/pen to keep track of scores
Divide the groups in 2 groups. Ideally around 4-7 people per group. Explain people that the point of the game is to build one or more houses of cards.
The 2 groups are going to have slightly different rules. One team will be rewarded and punished on a team level and the others will be rewarded individually.
Whenever I talk about a section in the rest of the rules I mean either the 2 cards standing up ( /\ ) or the card covering it ( — )
The ‘Team’ scores as follows:
2 pts for every section they add to the house. This is multiplied by the layer they have added it to. So on the second layer they get 4 points. On the third layer they get 6 points.
-10 pts for every time the house (partly) collapses.
The ‘Individuals’ score as follows:
1 pt for every section added to the house, multiplied by the level for the individual
1 pt for every section added to the house, multiplied by the level for the team
In the event of a (partial) collapse the person whose turn it is gets -8 points. And he can shift the blame by choosing someone else to also receive -2 points.
Both teams are also required to keep track of how many sections at what level they add and how many times the house collapsed.
It is also possible for a person to pass and not attempt to add any more cards.
The reason to give them their printed instructions and not explain it in public is that you do not want the teams to know they are playing by 2 different rules.
Give them 5 minutes to build houses. As soon as one collapses they can keep going and start over.
After the 5 minutes are up, ignore the scores and gather the statistics on the amount of sections added and total number of collapses.
Then do a debriefing to gather experiences and see what was different between the 2 teams.
If there is time do a round with both groups on the team score for some friendly competition.
What usually happens is that The Individuals will be competing against each other. They are probably more risk-averse and look to blame strategically. After someone has a high enough score they sometimes sit back and pass instead of taking the risk of losing their lead.
The Team on the other hand is working together. They are figuring out the way to place cards, help each other place them and warn when they see something going on.
Compare this with how bonuses and blame is usually distributed in their organisation.
Special thanks to the people in my PLAID workshop at the AgileHolland Agile Games Night who came up with the problem and the resulting brainstorm and the volunteers at Agile Coach Camp Denmark for being guinea-pigs.