(this exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Geoff Watts)


Unspecified, but allow up to 20-30 mins for balloon making and debrief


Download and print the attached for one or more of the balloon animal shaping instructions.

Balloon Twisting Tips

The Basic Hat

The Balloon Dog

The Sword

Large bag of coloured modelling balloons, with hand pump

People works in pairs.



One of the pair plays the customer, one plays the worker. The worker must follow the customers instructions.

Variation 1: The customer can only use the written instructions. The worker can not look at the instructions.

Now give the customer a different animal sheet.

Variation 2: The customer can only use the picture instructions. The worker can look at the instructions and work collaboratively with the customer.

(You can switch the customer and worker around if you wish, and there are numerous interpretations you can tinker with too: distributed customers (back to back chairs), distracted customers (give separate problems to customers))

Learning Points:

Proving that lengthy written requirements are less useful than simple mock-ups. Real time collaboration (pairing customers with developers) is better than blind feedback (without seeing the product). Time efforts using the stopwatch and compare results.

3 thoughts on “Balloon Animals

  1. I played this as part of a workshop to introduce UX concepts. It took more like 45 mins or so but everyone loved it and it worked really well. Really got everyone in a positive mood. My one tip would be for the facilitator to make sure they are confident tying knots in the balloons as I had to help quite a lot of people doing this!

  2. This was great fun to play with teams. I combined it with the paper airplanes game to illustrate the cost of context switching within a sprint.

    Start the pairs off with the balloon dog, let them run for a couple of minutes then stop them and give the customers the paper airplane instructions and tell them to build that instead, then switch back to the balloon dog after a minute or so.

    Much hilarity and more than a few parallels drawn with our previous sprint!

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