Simbols is a powerful learning tool that addresses communication skills, team planning and implementation, process improvement and team leadership. In this 45-minute exercise, players receive printed coloured cards with a variety of shapes and patterns. The cards which have to be assembled, under challenging conditions and a tight time-frame, into a specific, finished pattern.
To arrive at a solution, participants describe the cards they've been dealt and determine the correct way to lay them out. All interaction is verbal until the last minute, when it's time to “launch” their solution, laying out the cards in correct pattern, before the deadline.
To assemble this complex visual puzzle, team members must:
- 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, against very tight time and quality targets, a successful solution to the problem they face.
As teams work to devise a solution, you'll hear comments like:
- "So put your half pyramid with the black triangle next to mine and then... ."
- "Is that the big triangle or the little kite on the triangle?"
- "Kite? What kite?"
- "And which way did we say was up...?"
The Simbols™ team challenge can be accomplished in two different ways -- as a whole team activity (ideally between 5-15 people) or as three sub-teams, each responsible for part of the task.
Applications, Uses, Learning Opportunities
Simbols is a rich experience that can be applied to a variety of learning objectives, including:
- Preparing for a product launch
- Allowing managers to develop a strategic plan for their teams to implement
- Identifying different learning and thinking styles in a team
- Working in three remote sub-teams to complete a joint project
- Making transitions between large and small group working
- Refining a process to improve operational performance
- Recognizing diversity in teams, the different perceptions that people bring to a situation and how easily this can cause misunderstanding
- Reaching agreement about a strategy in a situation in which many viable options exists
- "Getting it right" the first time
What do I get?
A carefully researched and designed group learning activity from RSVP Design. The activity uses a lightweight single-sided, metallic write-on /wipe-off board supplied with the game materials. The activity comes complete with a set of magnetic components, full participant briefing instructions, facilitator's manual and a suggested review process, based upon predicted learning outcomes.
How does it work?
Up to 30 individuals receive printed colored cards which have to be assembled, under challenging conditions, into a complete pattern. The participants need to act quickly to to set up a new and efficient communication process, improve and develop this and then use it to implement a solution against tight time deadlines. Excellent communication is not enough: the team must also demonstrate excellent project planning and process improvement. Teams respond to the challenge the activity offers, enjoying "pitting their wits" against the problem and seeing tangible proof of improving performance. In addition, they develop key skills that are of significant value in team briefing, coaching, instructing and delegating task responsibility to others.
What are the learning outcomes?
The facilitator determines the key learning through the use of the review process. Key learning can be identified in areas of:
- Achieving shared understanding between individuals and sub-groups
- Offering support and alternative communication strategies to others
- Taking opportunities to improve performance and quality
- Managing time and information under pressure
- Agreeing an acceptable level of risk in developing solutions
If you are familiar with Colourblind®, Simbols is a great follow-up exercise!