“The Zin Game” Team Building Facilitation

My trainer and mentor Blair Singer, master facilitator of note, taught me this fantastic game and how to facilitate it. In the last couple of years I have facilitated it in various groups and teams, always with the same result: “Wow this was amazing, I’ve learned so much about my own behaviour and that of my team members’.

zin game facilitationIt’s an exercise in recognising team behaviour in a tricky situation. The team is confronted with a task for which it needs to communicate all relevant information quickly, process that information, and draw conclusions based on that information. Invariably some information will be held back, irrelevant information might take center spot and so forth. This creates an environment for the team to analyse who’s in control, who leads, do those normally not leading have a chance to give input, how is information processed, etc.?

I usually “play” this game with a team I’ve worked with for a little while as sort of an end treat of our work together but it is equally effective on its own without prior work. However on those occasions where I actually knew the team I was always blown away by how precisely it reflects the going-ons in a team.

The best way to teach is by showing. Let your team experience how it solves problems by way of playing this game.

Key points particularly addressed are:

  • how to work as a team
  • how to solve problems in and as a team
  • how to improve group communication and give everyone a voice
  • reflection on group dynamics and how to improve them if needed
  • virtue of group problem solving vs. doing it “on my own”
  • group leadership vs. individual leadership

How does YOUR team solve problems?

Would you like your team(s) to experience this game too and learn how to work better as a team? Here’s how it works:

  • Time needed: 1.5 hours (includes introduction, game itself and reflection discussion)
  • Group size: 5-8 people per group, multiple groups can be facilitated either concurrent or in sequence
  • Venue: a quiet room with a table or at least chairs for the team to sit
  • Location: within 60 km of Somerset West/Cape Town, otherwise by arrangement

Please contact me to discuss further details. Fees depend on numbers and location, please indicate both in your enquiry. [Ask for small business discount!] Other team building activities and games are also available, please request.

In a recent game

we went through all of these but in particular the leadership dynamics were a problem in the team in reality and very quickly showed themselves in this game. There was one strong leader, the manager, who was the unquestioned decision maker. As it happened she made a wrong assumption based on some of the information very early on but because nobody questioned her, nobody even thought about questioning her assumption. That threw the entire team off course for nearly the full game.

At another stage she had to leave the room (normally not something I allow but had to in the circumstances), as she was gone the team was left scrambling and resorted each to their own little world. Nobody took the lead and carried on with the task at hand, everyone waited until she was back. It was a very interesting observation and I might include this purposely in future when facilitating this team building game where a strong leader is present.

This was the most profound insight for this group and they each realised how they all behaved like that in real life. Most notably the manager too realised her play in this all and they all could reach a new level of understanding and team work.