Team-Building Activity: Playing the Cards

Here’s a team-building activity for adults that is fun and generates valuable information at the team level.  It works for teams of 6 to 60+ and requires only a stack of index cards (at least 3 cards per person) and pens or markers.

First, create small groups of 2 to 6 people, depending on group size. All groups begin with the same task, designed to address some topic of interest to the team. For example, the task may be to list:

  • Project that this team should consider in the next year
  • Ideas for creating a new innovative product or service
  • Ideas for creating efficiencies or streamlining business processes
  • Core values that you believe should drive this team’s actions
  • Ideas for future team-building activities

Each group generates cards that respond to the assigned topic— only one idea per card.  Each group may generate as many cards as they wish, as this is the brainstorming section of the activity.

Once each group has generated a stack of cards (takes about 10 minutes), the stack is passed to a different group (so each group gets a new set of cards). Then, in a second round, the group sorts through and reads the cards they have received from the first round. The group must select the top 2-3 cards from their inherited set— these are the top ideas that the group thinks are the best of all the cards received.  For example, Group B receives a stack of 7 cards that list different ideas that Group A generated for new innovative services, and picks the top 2-3 ideas. This round also takes about 10  minutes.

In a third round, the 2-3 top selected cards for each group are then passed to a third group. The rest of the cards are set aside. For this final round, the group selects what they believe is the best idea from their inherited cards and then drafts a preliminary action plan to bring that idea into reality.  The output from this step is a statement of the idea and a plan of attack for carrying it forward.

This entire exercise takes about an hour, and can result in a great team-building experience, as well as action plans for the future. For example, one corporate team we worked with generated a preliminary plan for an internal staff rotation program. Another team generated a list of top 10 corporate values and examples of how they could be demonstrated across the organization. One hour, a world of ideas!