Paper Tower Game

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Intent or purpose: 
For Part A To reinforce planning, cooperation and to realize that perceived boundaries might not be real.For Part B: Knowing the technical limit does not guarantee that it can be reached if there's not enough time but that you still get a lot better result through detailed planning and learning. It is also to become aware of assumptions and planning is useful.
Used as component of: 
This can be an introduction to a workshop in which assumptions need to be examined. It is also used as an introduction ot a technical limit workshop.
Types of Participants: 
Any but doing this with a more technical oriented group is great fun.
Recommended size of group: 
Optimal amount of time needed: 
6 Minutes
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
a discussion about assumptions and making false assumptions
Level of participation: 
Ideal Conditions: 
Room with several tables big enough for each team to work.
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Facilitation skills required
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
This does not take any technical skill
Resources Needed: 
2 reams of A4 or 81/2 x 11 inch paper and two rolls of tape.
Pre-Work Required: 
prepare the paper and masking tape for the first part of the exercise.

<p><b><i>Exercise A</i></b><br>
<i>1. Split the group into teams. Numbers should be ca. 6 per team for a dynamic exercise. More than 10 per team and you lose people. <br>
2. Give each team 5-x sheets of A4 and 2" of tape.<br>
3. Present the challenge (be careful how you phrase it):</i><br>
- "You have been given 5 sheets of paper and 2 inches of tape.The task is to build the tallest tower in 15 minutes. The time starts NOW".<br>
<i>It may be useful to pre-prepare this statement on a flip chart.<br>
4. Facilitator tips (pre-prepare questions that will become aware of these areas and how they could improve).<br>
- watch out for the following shortfalls: </i> <br>
- <i>Some teams dive in, others make drawings, others still pilot design ideas.<br>
- Some are good at ensuring all the team knows the plan and that all are listened too.?<br>
- The facilitator's time squeeze and immediate start drives behaviour that is not based on value but on 'urgency'<br></i>
<i>?- There was no statement that this was a competition.?<br>
- They could have all collaborated.</i><br>
<i>- Some teams wait and then copy the best ideas off others.<br>?
- Some teams ask the facilitator how to build it.</i><br>
<b>Boundary Conditions?</b><br>
<i>- They could have asked for more paper and tape.<br>
- They could have used flip chart paper.<br>
- They could have asked for glue or wood or bricks or tables or....?<br>
- There are no boundary conditions other than 15 mins of time, and.?<br>
- They could have asked for longer.<br>
5. The following are possible questions to ask but they need to be thought through for the group you are working with.<br></i>
a What were some of the things you did as a group?<br>
b How did you make decisions?<br>
c How did you communicate with each other?<br>
d What was the most important driver for the way you worked?<br>
a How would you describe the relationship you had with the other teams? <br>
b Why did you have that relationship?<br>
c What in the description of the exercise led you to believe that this relationship is valid?<br>
d What other relationships could have been taken with the other groups?<br>
a How did you learn during the exercise?<br>
<b>Boundary Conditions</b><br>
a What were the boundary conditions in the exercise?<br>
b What are the stated boundary conditions?<br>
c If the only boundary condition was the 15-minute time limit what could have you done to build a bigger tower?<br>
<i><b>Exercise B</b><br>
1. Discuss what could be the tallest tower say with a full pack of A4 and a roll of tape (you need some limit here). Draw the analogy with the Technical Limit height - make a note.</i><br>
2. What would be the technical limit of a paper tower using a ream of paper and a roll of tape? <i>(One way to look at this is the height of the ceiling as it could be hung from the ceiling. Do not suggest this solution at this time though.)</i> <br>
3. What would be the best way of building such a tower? <i>Allow a brief discussion of how to build such a thing.<br>
4. In the middle of the conversation after some ideas are out place, a full pack of A4 and a roll of tape in the middle of the room and tell them to build the tallest tower possible in 15 minutes. The whole room should join in.</i><br>
- <b>Usual result:</b> <br><i>The group usually melees around a bit then gets on with building a tripod structure out of rolls of paper - some get up to 3m high or more. <br>
- The main point here is that they accomplished something far greater than before - celebrate that.<br>
5. Compare the actual height with the pre-noted technical limit. </i><br><br>
1. What are the learnings of this exercise?<br>
2. Why do we make assumptions that are false?<br>
3. What can be done in teams to help examine assumptions about the boundary conditions of a project?<br>
4. <i>You can point out that even when they started to understand "The Limit", with insufficient time to plan, they'd never make it</i></br></p>

How flexible is the process?: 
Follow-Up Required: 
Derived from: 
this is a variation on a bridge building exercise that has similar dynamics
Epistemological Framework: 
History of Development: 


License Model: 
Free (or unattributable)
Namesort ascending City Country
Imaginal Training Groningen Netherlands
Namesort ascending City Country
Imaginal Training Groningen Netherlands