ROPES Challenge Programs

Team Initiative Activities Descriptions

Celebrating the win.

For an overview of this program format see Ropes Challenge Team Initiative Overview.

People typically want to know... what will we be doing? Below is a partial list of popular activities. We invite the client to be involved with us in planning the program by selecting activities that will appeal to the group.

Generally, many different activities can highlight important team process skills for each group, as groups typically recreate their patterns when they are involved in a challenge activity. Facilitators observe the process and ask participants to comment on "what happened" in debrief discussions that follow each activity.

Examples of Warm-up Activities - (one or two to start-off the program)

ROPES-Helium-Tube-TIHelium Tubes (approx. 20 minutes) (Getting a group to think and act like a team)
A long narrow tube is placed on the fingers of all the team members lined up shoulder to shoulder. Simply lower the tube to the ground. What could possibly be difficult about this? Well, you’d think the tube was filled with helium as it defies gravity and the efforts of the team. Collective mind over matter can gradually complete the task.

"I'm In Charge" (approx. 10 minutes) (Taking initiative - breaking the ice - owning the program)
Participants have 45 seconds each to lead the group in an activity to prepare everyone to participate fully in the program. This includes anything physical, informative or creative. This is a good icebreaker as it gets participants to take initiative and "do their own thing."

ROPES-Gordian-Knot-TICaptain Video (approx. 20 minutes) (Communication and getting past self imposed constraints)
This is an activity to demonstrate the challenge of communication and the assumptions we make about options available to solve problems. One person in the group works out a short movement sequence that everyone else in the group is to repeat. However, each person only sees this motion demonstrated by the person who viewed it just before they do, and then passes it along in serial sequence through the group. At the end, the Captain and the last viewer both do the motion as they know it. Is it even vaguely the same? This fun activity gets people to observe, discuss, and start to make connections to work, program and leadership issues.

...also ask about Gordian Knot, InsideOut, Cheer Leader, Bob's Mother, The Listening Warm-up, Commonalities, Where In The World is... , Call of the Wild, Elves -Giants -Wizards, Diversity Circle, LineUp, and several other effective activities to get a program started.

The Most Popular Team Initiative activities

Many people refer to Team Initiatives as Low Ropes. These activities are mobile and can be set-up at a location of your choosing. Ask about other available activities. These activities involve very low levels of physical effort and emotional stress. Bottom line: people generally stay grounded and don't get winded doing these activities.

To plan out your program, you can look over the quick theme descriptions next to the sample activity title and consider what experiences would be most valuable for your team. We guarantee they're all a lot of fun as well. Each of these activities require about one hour to complete, including the debrief discussions. There are many more activities to choose from. Contact us directly to plan out your program in detail.

ROPES-Maze-TIThe Maze (Developing and sharing an effective process with limited budget and communication constraints)
The Maze activity is conducted on a checkerboard patterned carpet and involves one or two teams. Starting at one end, each team needs to figure out the one path across the maze so that each person can cross without setting off an alarm. For indoor programs, we use a carpet with weight sensors that are programmed to sound if one steps on an "off-limits" square. Teams set their own time and performance goals. Performance goals are measured by minimizing repeated hits on alarmed squares. Each subsequent alarm from an identified square has an incremental cost, measured in chips the team budgets for itself at the outset. If these chips are depleted, the facilitator/banker can advance a team up to seven red (debt) chips, and after these, up to five blue (equity) chips. The best collaboration effort between teams resulted in "0" cost - a perfect outcome.

ROPES-ZoomZoom (Promotes shared problem solving and good communication. It also demonstrates the power of working for consensus)
The objective is for participants to identify the exact order of the pages of the story. Participants are instructed to consider the perspective of the audience – children - and the intent of the author. Taking other points of view requires that people separate themselves from assumptions, biases, and personal preferences – and, frequently, “group think”. A fun part of this activity is the wordless, colorful, whimsical, and fun story. Many seemingly unrelated depictions are actually interwoven to develop a story line in which the most obscure picture is the starting point for discovering an interrelated world. The discussion after the activity focuses on the process that evolved, how agreement was reached, and the final result.

ROPES-Warp-SpeedWarp Speed (Continual process improvement - creative problem solving)
Participants are challenged to continually improve the performance of passing several balls through a set sequence that the group develops at the outset. Each time they succeed, the challenge becomes to do the task in half the time. In order to succeed, the team members need to change the way they are doing things. This usually is only possible if they challenge their assumptions about how something "must" be done, realizing that many limitations are self imposed. New ideas that work are often the result of combining several people's ideas that no one person would come up with on their own. The message: we need each other in order to adapt and change and become more successful in response to outside demands.

Hot Stuff (Three Mile Island) (Creativity under pressure, identifying clear roles and responsibilities)
A "nuclear reactor" is represented by a circle on the ground, about twelve feet in diameter. In the center is the "reactor core" with some "fuel" lying on top. A "containment device" is located off to the side. Outside the reactor, in the "control room," are materials available to the team. The team is informed it has about thirty minutes to contain the fuel (some balls) on the nuclear reactor core (a pedestal) to prevent a nuclear meltdown. No one can go into the reactor area, and must wear protective gear (blindfolds) if touching anything that does go into the reactor. This is a "hot" activity to demonstrate the need for clear roles and responsibilities, effective leadership, good communication, and shared problem solving to be successful. Teams can do this activity simultaneously and potentially help each other's problem solving. Or they can work in isolation and compare results later.

ROPES-Polygons-TIPolygons (Sharing accurate information)
During the first half of the activity, everyone in the group wears protective eyewear (blindfolds). They are instructed by their facilitator to form a perfect shape, such as a square to triangle. In the second half they can all be sighted while they form a more complex figure, such as a star. This activity is about coordinating leadership and sharing a "vision" to complete a project.

ROPES-Sherpa-WalkSherpa Walk (taking initiative, empathy for the needs of others, clear two-way communication)
This activity simulates a guided adventure in rugged terrain, presumably dependent on a leader. The leader is a volunteer who is sighted and guides a blindfolded group, trailing in a line behind the guide through a woods and over obstacles that are described by the guide in a fantasy adventure. The group follows along and listens to the description for clues on what to expect and what to do. The leader can either be very focused on guiding each member of the group or give general descriptions to the person next to him, in the front - to be passed along. The blinded participants soon learn how much they need to depend on and support each other for their safety and success. The activity simulates how teams, typically with less information than their leaders, need to generate an additional element of initiative and leadership to support each other and be successful. Sighted leadership can change once or twice during the activity, allowing for different styles to be experienced.

All A-Board
At the end of the Sherpa Walk the group is taken to a small 2' x 2' elevated platform that simulates a precarious mountaintop on which the whole team must be supported at the same time, still blinded. This experience often provokes valuable discussion on the ways "followers" on teams need to still take initiative and support each other to be successful.

The Trust Series (identify the elements of trusting relationships and how they apply to teams and individuals.)
Participants engage in three different trust falls; 1st with one catcher and one faller, 2 nd with both being catcher and faller at the same time, and 3rd with one person falling and the whole group continuously catching and supporting. The activities follow with a discussion of how the three activities can suggest what's needed in developing trusting relationships, the different orientations people have regarding trust, and how they affect work relationships.

ROPES-Channels-TIChannels (How to collaborate when goals and accountabilities merge.)
Here is a moving challenge that can promote interrelated teamwork. Each team is given a small ball, and each person on the team is given a "channel" device. Each device is slightly different from the others. The challenge is to get the ball from a designated starting point to a target point without dropping or making physical contact with the ball. A series of related standards must also be met for each of the channel support structures (people) that construct the channel. What starts out as a fairly straightforward objective, soon becomes a bigger challenge, as more balls must be moved, the target moves further away, and new obstacles must be avoided. A second team (or more) can enter the picture as teams share channel routes, targets, and even balls in the process. This activity requires collaboration, coordination, cooperation, and tactical skills to be successful. Engagements with other teams can produce elegant and effective solutions, or can impede performance depending on how the groups relate with each other. Or, it can just be a competitive challenge.

ROPES-On-Your-MarkOn Your Mark . . . (Learning from the other team to improve everyone's performance.)
How fast can your teams complete this challenge? A circular game area is roped off. Inside are dozens of "hot spots" (disks) on the ground, each one with a specific marking to distinguish its place in a series. The challenge is for the team to make contact with each mark in series as quickly as possible. Another team is nearby and has the same challenge, and its hot spots are also inside the game area. Multiple play areas can be set up with two teams assigned to each. The challenge is to achieve the fastest combined time for touching the marks, in series. The game area with the fastest combined time wins. As an alternative, if there is only one game area with one or two teams, participants are challenged to meet a predetermined standard. The activity encourages out of the box thinking for ways to create an efficient process and for cooperating across teams.

ROPES-Bridges-TIBridges (initiative, figuring out the problem as your working the problem, attention to detail)
An activity in which the team starts out on one end of a space and must cross the space by making bridges across blocks without touching the ground, which is covered with a potent "acid". The team has multiple boards to build the bridges, but can lose a board if it touches the ground, and participants can lose use of an arm or vision if they touch the ground. The team needs to finish on or ahead of schedule. The problem solution doesn't reveal itself until after the team is typically well into an action mode, trying out different tactics, which may work at first, but ultimately need to change to be successful.

ROPES-Trolleys-TIKPM Transit (Kinetic People Movers or Trolleys):
(Managing multiple requirements to complete a task, focused execution, skill sharing, cooperation)
An activity in which the team attempts to complete an assigned task on time, and to specs. The props are described to participants as trolleys that each person on the team needs to be standing on in order for their team to advance. A course area is set out for the trolley. The objective is for the team to finish at the exact time set, not early, not late, like an efficient trolley company. Participants need to effectively cooperate to make the trolleys work. If everyone isn't working in unison the system breaks down and mishaps can occur. Teams typically rise to the challenge and develop the coordination to be successful.

Team-Initiaitives-Spider-WebSpider Web (setting and maintaining high standards, mutual support and trust, shared problem solving)
The team members find themselves at a large web like structure made out of string, and containing a dozen holes of various shapes through which people need to be passed to the other side. The group needs to set a quality standard for their performance related to how much movement is allowed in the process of moving each other from one side to the other, and enforce their standard during the activity. The group figures out who best fits through which hole and in what order, and aims to complete the task in 30 minutes or less. This activity stimulates a lot of excitement and cheering as the group succeeds in meeting, hopefully, high standards that it sets and maintains.

Many other activities are added to the Team Initiatives repertoire on a regular basis. Contact us for additional activity descriptions associated with a program for which you request a proposal.

An added option to include with these activities:

ROPES-Group-Discussion-TIDo a Personal & Team Communication and Behavior Style Program
Participants often value and enjoy the process of identifying the personal behavior styles that produce the team dynamics. People come to understand these styles as typical, predictable, and necessary to have in a fully functioning team, in that the differences ensure the kind of diversity necessary to help the team be productive. At times these styles can cause friction and confusion within the team. We describe how this can happen and useful strategies to both take advantage of the strengths and minimize the unpleasantness that can occur, especially in times of stress. We typically provide this program in two ways. The short and very general description of styles uses a survey instrument called the Personal Profile Preview. We can do this presentation in about 90 minutes at an additional cost of twenty dollars per participant. The full version of the DiSC personal profile includes a more reliable and informative survey and booklet. This version requires from two to three hours and costs an additional thirty-five dollars per person for the survey booklet. For even more in-depth personal and team profile analysis we also offer an on-line survey that is taken before a program.

A PDF can be downloaded immediately that provides an in-depth report that describes management and coaching styles, specific interpersonal dynamics, and can be used to generate an in-depth team profile.

For more information on these options click the link: Team Style Analysis.

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