Simbols is initially, a seemingly simple task, but quickly becomes challenging as there is only one answer to the problem, and only one chance to solve it! Each individual has a number of patterned magnetic cards, which they need to describe the pattern of, in order to fit it into the correct place on a magnetic board. Participants can only communicate verbally and cannot show each other their cards, meaning each individual must contribute to solve the problem. Participants have only one chance to provide the correct answer, therefore process planning and improvement is vital.
Using verbal communication only, participants need to refine and improve their language and communication skills for mutual understanding between team members, mimicking everyday communication when a shared visual reference is not available.
As well as improving communication, problem solving skills and team building, Simbols activity also tackles project planning, strategic thinking, improving performance, and time management as participants are given a strict time frame to assemble their grid.
It is also an excellent exercise to use on an international or cross-cultural awareness programme as it rapidly highlights different cultural references and language styles.
Simbols can be used either in a group with a minimum of four, or maximum of 30 participants. Or, as four sub-teams which then integrate into one large team for the final assembly. The sub-team version challenges collaboration and communication between remote teams, and how they plan to effectively integrate.
Simbols was originally designed as a follow on activity to Colourblind, and is a great extension for continued improvement of effective communication 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.
- • Use an effective communications system to deliver a final process implementation stage.
- • Deliver a successful solution to the problem they face against very tight time and quality targets
- • Managing each individual’s input and ensuring everyone in the team understands
- • Understanding everyone will have a different way in which they explain and understand situations
- • Ensuring everyone is listened to and understood
- • Understand that language and communication is culturally specific
- • Team leadership
- • Team building, integration and collaboration between teams
- • Effective team planning and process improvement
Facilitator manual, Gameboard, Carry case, 30 x Different magnetic tiles
Each participant (up to 30 in total) has a number of printed magnetic cards. Each card fits into a specific place on a pre-printed grid. There is only one way in which the pattern can be assembled correctly and only one opportunity, at the end of a planning period, to assemble the grid. The participants cannot show or exchange their cards to each other and are reliant upon high quality verbal communication only, to solve their problem. At the end of the exercise they assemble the grid against the clock.
In the 'Team Simbols' version, 3 x sub-teams solve part of the grid puzzle before coming together and integrating as one team for the final time trial.
A period of around 30 - 45 minutes intense verbal information exchange and process planning, leads to a high energy 30 second implementation finale.
The design of the Simbols activity and the complexity of the information can lead to confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty. To avoid this, precise descriptive language and communication, and careful feedback and checking skills must be applied. However, this happens in a context of time pressure, in which implementation must be ‘right first time’.
- Worth every penny!Review by Catharine
Quality of Learning Design Value for Money
Walking Tall Development Ltd
(Posted on 20/01/2015)