Colourblind Communication & Team-building Kit

A highly effective tool for superlative communication!

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COLOURBLIND® was developed in 1991 for training Air Traffic Controllers in Great Britain -- where team communication is fundamental to success and where absolutely no margin for error, misunderstanding or ambiguity can be tolerated. Since then, COLOURBLIND has been used worldwide across languages, cultures and business backgrounds, to focus on the fundamental skills of great two-way communication and the achievement of shared meaning. It is also used to explore team problem-solving, team understanding of abstract concepts and to explore team culture. Colourblind is now listed as a 'Preferred Learning Material' by ILM (Institute for Leadership and Management), Europe's foremost leadership and management training provider.


Wearing blindfolds to ensure total dependence upon the quality of their verbal communication, and holding a collection of small, irregular, coloured plastic shapes, a group works together to gather information that will allow them to solve a puzzle. The size of the group (between 4 and 28) demands different types of skill: information and group management, effective listening and questioning, strong chairing skills, the ability to clarify and summarize and the need for feedback to ensure understanding.

The exercise can last for up to 40 minutes, with breaks for review and coaching, and generates a large amount of discussion. The activity can greatly benefit employees working in remote locations and is widely used for telephone support and customer service positions.


  • Develop effective communication, team building, and problem solving skills
  • Set up and manage an effective communication system that everyone understands and can use efficiently.
  • Develop a dialogue which will lead to a common understanding of abstract concepts.
  • Deliver a successful solution to the problem they face.
  • Learn to improve communication systems and the quality of the messages which those systems support
  • Practive listening skills and refine questioning skills
  • Develop adaptability in communication skills, changing and using language to meet the needs of others
  • Understand the cultural nuances of communication
  • Build common vocabulary and common meaning of descriptions


SIZE OF GROUP: Recommended group size per game is "up to 14 people." (If your group is larger than that, consider providing roles as observers rather than participants).

SPACE REQUIREMENT:  Plan on enough working space to ensure that the large team can work together and hear each other – the ideal arrangement is probably a ‘horseshoe’ shape of chairs, so that seated and blindfolded participants can receive the plastic pieces in their hands/laps.

HOW DOES THE GAME WORK?  Each participant is blindfolded and issued with a number of small plastic pieces. The team has to identify the colour and shape of two pieces that were removed from the complete set of plastic pieces. Teams of 6 - 14 gather knowledge to identify 2 coloured abstract shapes that are missing from a complete set of 30. The communication processes involved are much more complex and take participants through increasingly sophisticated patterns of communication until the task is achieved.

HOW MUCH TIME IS NEEDED? Expect 20 - 30 minutes of intense verbal information exchange and problem-solving. The exact amount of time often depends on the group.

WHY IS THE EXERCISE VALUABLE? The design of the Colourblind® activity and the complexity of the pieces is intended to create to confusion, uncertainity, ambiguity and perhaps a bit of frustration. To avoid this, precise descriptive language and careful feedback and checking skills must be applied. The use of only verbal communication mimics the amount of time we typically spend on email, telephone or other communications media when we don’t share the same visual frame of reference, and the resulting misunderstanding and even conflict that can develop when a truly shared meaning is not developed.  Individuals draw on their experience and descriptive skills to explain to each other abstract shapes that they can hold in their hands, whilst blindfolded. They use feedback and clarification skills to ensure that their understanding is accurate.

GAME ORIGINS: Colourblind® was developed in 1991 when our colleague, Dr. Geoff Cox, designed and delivered the first week of an induction training programme for Air Traffic Control cadets. Each cadet facing an intensive, demanding training programme in which teamwork and communication skills would be fundamental to success. Each, ultimately, would accept professional responsibilities which allow absolutely no margin for communication error, misunderstanding or ambiguity.

Colourblind® enabled participants to rehearse every communication skill which Air Traffic Controllers need and to highlight the problems and pitfalls which communication breakdown inevitably brings when there is no visual common ground

Since 1991 Colourblind® has been used worldwide across languages, cultures and business backgrounds, to focus on the fundamental skills of great communication.

Colourblind is also part of our Education Sector Package for those who wish to use it with students or young people in an educational setting.


Which are the two components that are missing from the set of shapes we have in our possession?
" I have a piece that is like a rectangle with points and a hole in the middle."
"Yes, I have one too...two points and a circular hole."
"Yes, I think I have one...does it look like a Capital A?"
"No, not an a rectangle with a diamond shape lying over it..."
"Would you describe it as an arrowhead?"
"Like a triangle, but instead of having three flat sides one is an arc..."
"Does anyone know what an arrowhead is in Italian?.."


View Video Demo!


  • 20 blindfolds (re-usable)6 puzzle pieces in each of 5 colors (total of 30 pieces)
  • Facilitator Manual - full guide with set-up, delivery and review suggestions

Package Weight: 2 lbs

Binder with Facilitation notes

Colourblind is designed by RSVP Design Ltd, now validated by ILM.


Colourblind Communication & Team-building Kit

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