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Help Needed: Team Building Activities

A friend of mine has contacted me asking for help. So in response, I'm turning this over to you, the trusty DPG community.

They need a couple of team building activities for an event. Do you have any activities you could share for exercises that take about 30-40 minutes. There is around 24 people with a technology background who can be split into teams.

Any ideas? Post 'em below.

Thanks loads

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  • Hi,

    Here is a range of ideas that are good for a host of people;

    Group Juggling

    Ideal as an icebreaker and name game. Easily adaptable for all participants


    Asstd soft balls, bean bags, soft toys etc


    How to play:

    • Ask group to form a circle
    • Start by throwing the ball across to another person.  As you throw say the name of the person you are throwing to. This lets the person know you are throwing to them and lets everyone hear their name.
    • This person then picks someone else, shouts their name and throws the ball to them
    • Play continues until the ball makes it to everyone in the group.
    • Once someone has received the ball they cannot get it again.
    • The last person throws back to the leader
    • Ask everyone to remember who they have thrown the ball to (this is important). From this moment on they will only throw to that person
    • Repeat a couple of times so that everyone is clear to who they are throwing to and receiving from.
    • Now start adding additional balls or objects and speeding the throwing and catching up.  Then if you can all manage to throw/catch you will see why it is called group juggling!










    Chair Swap

    Good game for getting to know people.  Very competitive but everyone can get to play.


    • Form a circle of chairs one less than the number of participants
    • Everyone bar one sits down.  The one person left then stand in middle of circle
    • The goal of the game is for the standing person to sit down
    • They make a statement ‘everyone who has a tattoo swap places’ those people then have to get up and move to a different chair.
    • At this point the person in the middle seizes the chance to find a place.
    • Hopefully there will now be someone different in the middle and the game then continues with more statements

    Option 3 Team Building Game: 30-60mins

    Building tallest free standing structure using only newspaper and masking tape, good team building and also good for identifying leaders, strategists, group dynamics etc and how team functions.  By adding prize of some description changes it and introduces competition.  


    Newspaper, masking tape,

    How to play

    • Divide group into teams of approx. 6 participants.  Then ask for 1 volunteer from each team, those volunteers then leave the area.
    • Explain game to team.  Build tallest free standing structure using only the resources provided in 20 mins.
    • Brief volunteers.  Their role is to observe their group to see how they manage to achieve the task. But they cannot interfere or speak to their group
    • Give teams a 5-minute warning.
    • Go round and identify ‘winner’. 
    • Ask observers to feedback on: Who was a leader, did this change, who was creative/innovative etc, did everyone input ideas, was everyone listened to, was anyone left out, any arguments, what other roles did people take
    • Give prize to winning group (I usually use box of chocolates that can then be shared with wider group) 

    Name that Person

    Option 1 Time Required: 15-30 minutes

    Split group into two teams. Give each persona blank piece of card, ask them to write five little known facts about themselves on their card. Include all leaders in this game too. For example, I have a pet iguana, I was born in Iceland, my favourite food is spinach, my grandmother is called Doris and my favourite colour is vermillion.

    Collect the cards and put them into two piles. The facilitator will draw one card from the opposing team pile, and will get things going. Then a team member of each team reads aloud the card, clue by clue, each time they all try to guess who it is on the opposing team, Five points if they guess right on the first clue, then The team with the most points wins. 

    Option 1 Team Building Game: The Perfect Square

    Gather your team in a circle, and have them sit down. Each team member should then put on a provided blindfold. Taking a long rope with its ends tied together, place the rope in each person’s hands so that they all have a hold of it. Leave the circle. Instruct them to form a perfect square out of the rope without removing their blindfolds. Once the team believes they have formed a square, they can remove the blindfolds and see what they’ve accomplished.

    You can introduce variations into this game. For example, you might, at random, instruct a team member to not speak. One by one, members of the group are muted, making communication more challenging. Or, let the team come up with a plan before putting on the blindfold, but once they cannot see, they also cannot talk.

    Purpose: This exercise deals with both communication and leadership styles. There will inevitably be team members who want to take charge, and others who want to be given direction. The team will have to work together to create the square, and find a way to communicate without being able to see. By introducing the “muting” feature, you also inject the question of trust. Since instructions can’t be vocally verified, the team member calling out instructions has to trust those who cannot talk to do as they are told.

    Also a general knowledge quiz at the end is a nice way to finish.

    • Great ideas thanks for sharing Jacob. I love the juggling ball one. I've used it a few times. I've tried it before where you brief them to remember who they throw the ball to, but not mentioned that they need to remember who the ball is coming from. Interesting how quickly they figure out that's what they need to do.

      Interesting too what happens when you randomly pull someone out of the group (like a team member leaving, absent etc) and how it all quickly falls apart. Perhaps they should have been paying attention not just to two particular colleagues (where the ball is coming from and going to) but to the wider team too. Some nice discussions points to have around that.

      Great share. Thanks Jacob.

  • Hi,

    There are a few activities/ exercises that I use as team building activities in my sessions. They usually take 20-30 minutes to complete.

    The first involves splitting the group into smaller groups of around 5 people. Each group has the same amount of drinking straws or uncooked spaghetti (usually 30 pieces), the same amount of masking tape (usually about 1 meter), 1 chocolate bar and 2 chairs that have a gap of around 1 meter. The object of the activity is to get the teams to build a bridge, slide, catapult etc that will get the chocolate bar from one chair to the other. It encourages ideas and conversations between the smaller teams, along with competitiveness for the larger group. The trainer then makes a decision based on which construction is the most sturdy and enabled the chocolate bar to move from one chair to the other.

    The second activity I use involves splitting the group into 2 teams. Each team has I piece of A4 paper. Using masking tape mark out on the floor a distance of about 2 meters. The idea is that the team all stand at one end of the marked out area and they need to get their whole team to the other end of the area, BUT the carpet is shark infested and if they tread on it they are killed! They can only tread on the piece of paper. (they are allowed to rip the paper into smaller pieces to make stepping stones etc) The winning team is the team that gets the most members across without them being 'killed', and if both teams get all members across it is the team that did it  in the shortest time.

    Finally, a good way that I like to split the groups up is to get them to arrange themselves in a line by things like ascending age, shoe size, time taken to get to work etc etc. this helps to ensure that the teams are mixed sufficiently.

    I hope this helps and makes sense!



    • Love that idea Jon. Is it acceptable to eat the chocolate bar and then sit on the other chair!! Just asking! :-)

  • hi

    I had a great day of team building activities  with my organization that I was dreading but then enjoyed so much. tt was at the snowdome  in Tamworth .  very very good  experience

    • Hi Maria,

      Thanks for your reply and for sharing. Would love to hear more. What team was it? What did you do there and what did you find good?

      Interested to hear more.

  • Hi Ady

    I have questions. Why are these people being brought together? What are they there for?

    In the light of what I heard at the CIPD conference last week about collaboration, if the session was about collaborating more effectively then I'd focus on small groups finding out about each other (everyone needs equal participation), actively listening to each other and asking good questions. These seem to be the foundations for good collaboration. I'd think about designing a session that helps put some of these elements into practice but in the context of the organisation and why those people are there.

    Sorry, this is not a direct answer but it feels like there is an opportunity here to do something that's a bit different. Oh, and don't call it a team building session!  


    • Thanks Martin. I must admit many questions popped into my mind too when I picked up on this request for help. Perhaps my friend should just dive on here and join the conversation ;-)

      Love the idea on good old conversation - questioning and listening. I've seen this work very well using the Open Space format again recently. It was impressive to see what topics came out into the mix when the agenda wasn't pre-determined. I'd definitely explore this option and happy to provide more info on this. It works incredibly well and perhaps this is the 'something that's a bit different' that would work? Knowing that you're very familiar with Open Space what would you say Martin?

      I agree the 'team building' label is perhaps one to avoid. I think that phrase has had it's day. I know we can all get better at what we do and that't the idea of team building. But then there's also the darker side of how people interpret that as being 'If we need team building, does that mean something is broken and we're not doing well'

      • I agree that World Cafe is good for surfacing topics/challenges etc. But you could also get into smaller groups and find out more about each other - maybe other skills you have that aren't used in the org etc. Collaboration requires people to know more about each other in order to trust them. Maybe that's a good starting point for this particular session?

        • Hi Sorry for the delay in getting back to you (I'm the colleague running the session) but I've had technical issues.  Thanks for the input, World cafe sounds a good idea, I think they may need a prompt like other skills to get them started.  We haven't used the label "team building" with them as this is going to be a long term goal and certainly won't happen in one afternoon, neither should it.  Collaboration is very much the goal in the short term as they are different technology groups coming together.  A fun element is included already in the day as we're at a gaming complex but the danger is that not all games will provide an opportunity to collaborate.

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