Build a Bridge is a game you can use with teams of 4-6 people.
You set them the task of building sturdy bridges from the materials you provide and then watch how they work together.
You can use this in either a team building setting or as part of a recruitment and assessment process to see what kind of team behaviors each participant has.
When Would You Use It?
This can be used for:
- Team building at away-days.
- Recruitment and/or assessment centers (I’ve used it to recruit for fork-lift drivers, fruit packers, office workers, senior managers – basically for any job where you want to observe how the individual behaves in a team task against the clock).
- It works best with teams of minimum 4 and maximum 6 people.
When team building...
- To get the group working to a shared short-term goal as a team.
- To get to know each other better and each member’s strengths – quickly.
- To establish the role of the leader.
- To listen to the brief and planning before problem solving together.
- To reinforce the benefits of working collaboratively
- To HAVE SOME FUN together.
When using for recruitment / assessment...
- To observe which candidates engage positively with other group members.
- To see if any natural leaders emerge.
- To see which candidates listen to the brief carefully and ask questions.
- To see who is working collaboratively.
- To see who is a problem-solver; helps their fellow group members; makes suggestions; etc.
- To see if there is anyone who takes a back-seat and does the bare minimum.
- To see if there is anyone who is toxic to the group dynamic.
Resources Required (for teams)
- 1 large ball of string
- 30 x 1 meter garden plant support sticks or bamboo canes (alternatively 15 x 2 meter sticks)
- 1 pair of secateurs (to cut the sticks/canes)
- 1 roll of clear sticky tape (25mm). NOT the wide brown duct tape type!
- 1 x pack of index cards OR several sheets of card of a similar thickness
- 2 broad sheet newspapers (no-one wants a tabloid!)
- 12 pencils
- 1 x tape measure or rule
- Rubbish sack (for the team to collect up all rubbish at the end of the exercise)
Resources Required (for the facilitator)
- Flip chart
- A shoe box for each team (or similar container) filled with 2 kg of sweets or biscuits
- Tell the whole group that the task is to build xxx number of bridges and they will do this in teams (i.e. if there are 3 teams then you want 3 bridges).
- Show them the Instructions slide and take them carefully through each point so they fully understand the task.
- Start the clock and help the teams by answering their questions as they go.
- Run a plenary discussion after the task to reinforce some key learning points:
- If you are running this as a team-building exercise, then finish off with some points on the flip chart about team working, how the task went, what they learned, what they would do differently, etc.
- If you are using this for recruitment, make sure the participants have a name badge and have a team of observers tour the room throughout making notes on each. Have a list of criteria that you are looking for and a scoring system. Use the flip chart to record scores to aid decision making.
- Your task is to build xxx number of bridges in your teams (i.e. there are xxx teams so we want xxx bridges at the end).
- Each team must build a bridge with the materials provided.
- A bridge must be self-supporting with enough space under it to pass the cunningly disguised lorry (the shoe box) and also be wide enough for the ‘lorry’ to pass along the bridge.
- Your structure must be free-standing and not attached to the table/furniture/walls in any way.
- A bridge can have as many supports as you want but one section of the bridge must span 1 meter, measured from the inside edges of the supports.
- You can only use the materials provided to build your bridge.
- A bridge must have a deck and be able to support the weight of the ‘lorry’ along the full length of the bridge.
- You have 1 hour to complete the task.
- If you complete the task within the time allowed, you get to keep the contents of the ‘lorry’ (if you don’t, then I can take them home!
- At no point should you say that it is a competitive task – when their task is complete, and there is any time left, the best teams will hopefully offer to help out the others.
- Make a point of praising any team or team member that helps out – refer to the original task point which was for the group to build xxx number of bridges.
- If using it for group recruitment over a short period, word can get round the very quickly and, believe it or not, people practice!
- So you can vary the structure to be built – a seaside pier with at least 2 spans, one of which must be 1 meter minimum; or a crane/lifting device to lift the ‘container’ with sweets from the floor up to table height; or a Ferris wheel with at least 6 cradles and smaller boxes of sweets to carry and must rotate.