This exercise was created for practicing Benne and Sheats’s group roles (although it might be adapted for any other similar classification). It does so by asking teams to resolve text puzzles (derived from popular teamwork fables) while at the same time team members are acting various group roles. Based on their performance the teams (as well as the individuals) might be awarded Oscars. The exercise could be also used to discuss the importance of group roles on team dynamics and teamwork.
The timing largely depends on the group roles classification to be practiced and the number of games to be played. On average one game should take no more than 120 minutes.
There are some specific materials that you’d have to prepare upfront. If you stick to the original exercise (thus practicing Benne and Sheats’s group roles) you could download them here. Otherwise you might need to:
Print all the materials and cut off the roles and the 4 worded groups from the chunks. Make sure that for each team there’s a corresponding pack of materials. Other things you might need during the exercise are papers, notes, pens and timer for timeboxing. There could be small prizes for the winners (even small Oscars).
Introduction (30 mins)
Introduce briefly Benne and Sheats’s classification of group roles and make sure that everybody understands the difference between task, building and maintenance (or social), and individual (or dysfunctional) roles. For each type of roles there should be a separate game. Their corresponding teamwork fables are distributed as follows: (1) Aesop’s Belling the Cat Fable for task roles; (2) The Fable of the Old Warwick for building and maintenance roles; and (3) The Fable of the Porcupine for individual roles. These fables were carefully selected in order their morals to reflect the specifics of the practiced types of group roles.
Split participants into teams. It’s important the size of the teams to be exactly 6 people (as the exercise is specifically designed for that particular case). If the teams are smaller or larger than this – the exercise might become too difficult or too easy (thus reducing its overall efficiency). In case the number of participants is not divisible by 6 – you might have one or more teams of 6 people and then the rest of the participants being observers. Their goal should be to carefully inspect the behavior of the team members as they play and then try to guess their roles at the end of each game. Yet another option is to have directors assigned to each team. They should know the role of each team member in advance and should provide help/guidance (privately) during the play (e.g. when somebody is not acting accordingly).
GAME (100 mins)
I. Set the stage (20 mins)
For each team form a pile of roles (either task, building and maintenance or individual) and ask everybody to pick up a random one. Make sure that the assigned roles remain private until the end of the game. Give 5 minutes for the participants to get familiar with their assigned roles and then another 15 minutes to figure out what should be their corresponding behaviors and attitudes during the play. They might consider things like speech, facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, etc. (as well as attitudes towards others; individual and group tasks; etc.). Let them list privately everything on a paper.
Distribute the puzzle to all the teams. Their goal should be to solve the puzzle while team members are acting the roles they are assigned to. The teams win points as follows:
Let them also know that each team member would receive 4 distorted words either in green or in blue. If green, then these words belong to the first part of the puzzle, and if blue – to the second one. The following rules should also apply: (1) distorted words should be restored individually (without the direct help of other team members); and (2) the words should be placed into the puzzle collectively.
II. Action! (35 mins)
Announce the beginning of the game and ask participants to start acting. The game play should go through the following three phases:
At the end distribute the original fable to the teams and ask them to calculate their intermediate results (using the rules specified above).
III. Who is who? (30 mins)
For each team collect their members’ roles descriptions and corresponding lists of expected behaviors and attitudes. Introduce briefly each role and ask team members to anonymously write down on a note who they think was its actor. Then go through each role and:
When ready – calculate the final results of the game and announce the winning team. The latter might be awarded the Best Team Oscar. Other awards you might consider are Best Individual Actor (the person whose role was guessed by everybody and who was acting according to the expected behaviors and attitudes), Best Acting Team (the team with the most guessed roles) and Best Performing Team (the first team to solve the puzzle).
IV. The morals of the story (15 mins)
Ask teams about the morals of the story and initiate discussion.
You might use the exercise to further discuss the importance of group roles. You might consider their impact on team cohesiveness, team development, team structure and composition, team performance, leadership and decision-making, conflict management,etc.
Original article: http://www.agify.me/the-teamwork-oscars/