Cynefin with the Team Drawer

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Authors: Ilia Pavlichenko and Alexei Pikulev.

We will show the game that helps to understand Cynefin and dynamics of transitions within it. We called the game “Cynefin with the Team Drawer” and to play it we need:

  1. Several sets of the Team Drawer (one for each team, look at the photo below). It is a small wooden platform with a big hole in the middle for  the marker and the small holes on the edges of the platform, which cling colored laces.

  2. People – yes, they are necessary. We expect one set of the Team Drawer for each team. The team’s size can vary from 4 to 10 people.

  3. A few blank sheets of paper flip-charts.

  4. Enough space, so pre-inspect the room before the game. For a comfortable game you need about 7-10 square meters per team..

  5. Blindfolds for eyes.

  6. If you have extra players who do not participate in the team, make them observers, and then after the game ask them to share their observations.


Let’s get to Play.

Before the game, ask the participants to expand their Team Drawer, insert a marker in the middle of the big hole and let it go. It is important that the team does not try to draw before the start of the game.

  • Round 1: Ask the team to take the ends of the threads together. The first challenge is to draw a perfect circle.

  • Round 2: Now, please ask them to draw a house with a window and shutters, sun with rays and next to the house a girl playing with a dog.

  • Round 3: Now you say that the game gets much more complicated and now they have to draw blindly. Give the participants the blindfolds. At this point, they will try to agree in advance how to act. He He, they are so naive. They would expect a serious blow. Once blindfolded, ask people to draw the ideal Scrum Master. Talking is strictly forbidden. If you have two teams or more you can allow communication for one of the teams so that you could compare their experiences afterwards.

  • Round 4: You can once again torment the teams, and please choose the challenge yourself.




After an active part of the game ask all to get back to their seats. Now it’s time to talk about Cynefin. Then ask the team to share their feelings and experiences. Ask the following questions:

  • How did you feel?

  • To which domain would you attribute each challenge?

  • Why?

  • How did the dynamics change through the game and what did you observe?

There are no correct answers, it all depends on the attitude. Cynefin is a sense-making framework. Be prepared of the fact that even on the same team there will be different opinions. And it’s OK. We draw the transitions on a flip-chart and continue to talk about Cynefin. You may notice, for example, that one of the teams when immersed in a chaotic domain appeared an autocratic leader who told everyone what to do.

One can not exactly guarantee you – you will have real fun.

You can watch a short video on how to play the game by clicking on the link.


I wish you a successful game.

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9 Responses to "Cynefin with the Team Drawer"
  • Nick Zdunic August 27, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Looks like a promising games to illustrate Cynefin. Was thinking somewhat myself about something useful to play. Will try it myself. Can the Team Drawer be readily purchased somewhere.

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  • Illya PAVLICHENKO August 27, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Hi, Nick

    thanks for your interest. Yes, that’s exactly the question I was waiting for. Look, I’ve bought it in Russia here
    I’m just not sure that it’s called Team Drawer in english version. Any ideas how to find it in Europe?

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  • Fredrik Wendt September 20, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Neuland has this Team Drawer too,

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  • Illya PAVLICHENKO September 20, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Frederik, thanks for pointing out on the place where it can be bought. Have updated the game description.

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  • Deepak October 2, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Very interesting game. Self explanatory!!!

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  • Illya PAVLICHENKO October 2, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Please play and share your feedback with us ))

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  • Richard Scott-Will-Harknett October 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Sounds great. Looking forward to trying in. If you can’t buy Team Drawer or an equivalent you could just make it from some cardboard, string and sticky tape – you could even make the self assembly part of the game

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  • Olivier January 13, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Thanks for posting this very interresting game.
    What is your timebox for this game ?

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  • Illya PAVLICHENKO January 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hello, Olivier

    the game is quite short. I don’t even put a timebox on teams usually. It takes maximum around 15 minutes to play all rounds. Maybe it’s worth to experiment with timeboxes and putting extra pressure on people by means of it.

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