You can practice this activity to creatively demonstrate the interrelationships and importance of each team member – particularly at the end of the team’s work. It works well with 5 or more members and takes 10 to 20 minutes.
Create a space large enough for each team member to (sit or stand) in a circle. You will need a ball of yarn. As a way to bring closure to individual contributions to the team’s success, ask the team to sit in a circle.
Hold a ball of yarn in your hand and begin the process by saying, “We all are important to this team’s success. And we couldn’t have been successful without your individual contributions. So let’s celebrate and thank our teammates. Here’s how I suggest we proceed: I’ll start by saying I would like to thank (Name) for (accomplishment). (For example, I’d like to thank Larry for staying late one night, when I knew it wasn’t convenient, to finish compiling the numbers for the team.)”
Once you have thanked the person, wrap the yarn around your finger, and throw the ball to that person. Then they thank someone else, wrap the yarn around the finger, and throw the ball to the person you thanked, etc.
After several passes, we start to weave a web of interconnectivity and dependence on each team member. (Yes, there is a risk that one or two team members didn’t pull their weight…usually the team will make sure they get included somehow, but the message does get sent in a subtle manner that they, in fact, did not pull their weight!)
Continue until the activity appears to slow down, but check with the team first. Once, I was surprised that the team was having such a great time, they wanted to continue for five more minutes!
Debrief and Summarize
At the end, ask the team to look at the web we weave. “We are only as strong as all of us. And then look at what happens when we aren’t there to help each other. Please, take the yarn off your finger.” The yarn loses its beautiful shape and form!
Ask one team member to grab as much yarn as they can. See how one person can affect the balance of the team dynamic.
For new teams, whoever catches the ball has to share a “fact” about themselves – either personal or work-related.
Inspired by Sally Holloway
If you like this activity, check out my book, Team Energizers, for 49 other team activities!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.